Course Outline



Elementary Music Links





Write a children's song based on the criteria below.





Cross-curricular composition

Compose an accompanied children's song which incorporates a valid  connection to another subject area (cross-curricular), while incorporating a musical concept to use in your curriculum.  Be aware that the MOST important criteria I will use in grading this is:


Could you actually use this in an elementary classroom?!!

Would it teach something substantial?







Choose a subject area and concept (non-musical)

Example:  Science - the flea



Choose a musical subject area and concept.

Example:  intervals - an octave leap



Write some words in rhyme form which teach a non-musical concept


If I were a flea, how happy I'd be; for now, I just walk down the street.

But if I were a flea, I'm much taller, you see -  my hop would be 600 feet!


(This uses the concept that a flea can jump about 200 times its own body height.  You would continue the song with other facts or characteristics about the flea.)

Note:  The example above would be only one verse of the entire song, which would include other verses to teach various content about the flea.  Be sure that your content includes real learning.  For example, if my song just included content about the flea hopping around, it really wouldn't qualify as cross-curricular.  Work with your content area to teach valuable information.



Write an original melody for your rhyme which incorporates your chosen musical concept or concepts (do not use the tune to another song)

For example, your melody could contain an octave leap at "my hop".  Or, you might continue the next line as a chorus

My hop, my hop, my hop would be hard to beat. 

My hop, my hop, my hop would be 600 feet. 


You could take the opportunity to use your octave skip on the first "my hop" (do to do) and maybe a skip of a 5th on the second one (do to sol).  There are many possibilities.


bulletInclude an accompaniment, either scored, or as fake sheet chords.  If using chords, use a standard lead sheet format. Remember, it need not be harmonically complex.  Tonic, dominant and subdominant chords will suffice.  Just be sure that it can be reproduced by someone other than you in the future. Include an introduction.



Now ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the melody simple enough for children to learn relatively easily?

  2. Is it too high/too low?  Is the range too wide?

  3. Is there enough repetition of melody and rhythm for it to be easily remembered?

  4. Do the words flow according to their accented syllables (avoid syllable mismatch)?

  5. Is there a definite and accurate rhyme scheme?

  6. Do you have enough chord changes to avoid unnecessary dissonance?



Use a notation program to score your composition, such as Finale, Sibelius, or even a music notation app

  1. Include a title

  2. Designate yourself as composer

  3. Under the title, list the subject integration concept (both the subject area and the specific lesson focus and the musical concept which can be taught through your song)  I cannot grade the musical concept if I don't know what it is intended to be!

  4. Also include the specific grade level the song is written for (1st grade, 5th grade, etc.; do not give me a range)

  5. Indicate tempo and dynamics

  6. Make sure you delete any extra measures at the end.  This should look like a publishable score.

  7. The lyrics should be added to your score, not separate from the music.  If more than one verse, all should go under the melody line to ensure that each verse of lyrics fits the melody.

  8. Scale your score down to fit on a single page or 2 if possible.  If it requires 2 or more pages, format the pages evenly.  Instructions are included on the Finale Page if you are using Finale.

Finale Page

If you are using Finale for notation, this page may be useful to you.  This is the page I use to teach my undergraduate students how to use Finale and it has lots of useful information, like how to add lyrics to your score.


bulletRecord your song - Feel free to use whatever recording medium you like.  If you are a newby, try Audacity.  It's free and easy to use. Be sure to include your accompaniment as part of the recording. Nothing should be a cappella. If you teach children or have children, consider recording them!



Upload your recording to Soundcloud

  1. Create a free account on the Soundcloud website

  2. Click Upload in the top right corner of the site
  3. Click Choose files
  4. Select the file you want to upload from your computer
  5. As the file is uploading, choose the Private option under Settings, so that the recording is not publicly available on the Soundcloud website (unless you want it public)
  6. Once the file has finished uploading, click Save at the bottom of the page
  7. Click the Share button on the page that loads with your recording
  8. In the popup box that appears, check Short next to Secret link
  9. Copy the shortened Secret link
  10. Paste the link in the discussion forum.

Note:  I wrote these instructions a while back.  If the process has changed, please let me know.


Put the video on YouTube

Paste the link in the discussion forum.






Examples of musical concepts to teach:

Here are some ideas for musical elements to emphasize.  You can probably think of others.

  1. steps/leaps

  2. road map (repeat signs, etc.)

  3. form (rondo, ABA, strophic, etc.)

  4. syncopation

  5. dotted rhythms

  6. intervals (the sound, like a 5th or an octave)

  7. dynamics

  8. phrases

  9. high/low

  10. meter (duple/triple, simple/compound)

  11. movement (waltz, march)

  12. note values (eighth notes, for example)

  13. scales (minor scales, for example)

  14. consonance/dissonance

  15. tempo

  16. blue notes

  17. harmony

  18. creative movement

  19. steady beat

  20. musical style (a particular type)

  21. breath control (singing longer phrases)

  22. increasing vocal range

  23. diction

  24. conducting

  25. key signatures

  26. pitch matching

  27. PSP (posture)

  28. melodic direction

  29. pickup notes

  30. partner songs (singing 2 parts)

  31. canons and rounds

  32. accents

  33. repetition and variation

  34. sequences

  35. scat singing

  36. themes

Examples of Subject Integration Concepts

Here are some ideas for subject integration.  Feel free to use any of these or one of your own choosing. 

The possibilities are endless!

Please do not use a list (days of the week, the planets, etc.) unless you can also incorporate a traditional and accurate rhyme scheme.


  1. Any natural element (rain, wind, snow, sun, moon, rocks, trees, plants, water)

  2. Colors which mix together to make other colors

  3. Any animal, insect, bird, etc.; groups (dinosaurs, hibernators, marsupials)

  4. Language elements (nouns, verbs, alliteration, definitions)

  5. Math concepts (times tables, prime numbers)

  6. Cities, capitols, countries, continents

  7. Discoveries, inventions

  8. Discoverers, inventors

  9. Famous people (leaders, heroes, presidents, artists, musicians; anyone they need to learn about)

  10. Natural laws (gravity, perpetual motion)

  11. Rules or laws (Bill of Rights, Smokey Bear stuff)

  12. How to . . . (instructions for a dance, how to blow glass, pan for gold)

  13. Health lesson (dangers of smoking, food pyramid)

  14. Stories (song of story of Paul Bunyan, Tom Sawyer, Ann Frank)

  15. Social issues (tolerance, prejudice, recycling)


Note:  Be sure that your song teaches something!  Try to be more specific than just urging good decisions, kind words, or a reminder to brush your teeth.  Find content that might be difficult to remember or understand without the use of your song.




Grading Rubric




Cross-Curricular Composition Rubric

Performance Indicators




Below standard





What does it teach?


Music element

Cross-curricular subject

Usability K-5

No score to grade

Both content areas lack substance

One content area lacks substance

Acceptable treatment of both content areas

Good treatment of both content areas

Excellent treatment of both content areas


0 points

24 points

28 points

32 points

36 points

40 points


Does it work?


Lyrics, rhyming

Syllabic emphasis

Harmony, accompaniment

Melody, singability

Range, difficulty, dissonance

No score to grade

Unacceptable use of mechanics

Many errors in mechanics

Several errors in mechanics

Minimal errors in mechanics

No errors in mechanics


0 points

24 points

28 points

32 points

36 points

40 points


How does it look?


Tempo and dynamics

Composer, instrumentation, title

No extra measures or staves

Balanced lines

No score to grade

Unacceptable formatting

Many errors in formatting

Several errors in formatting

Minimal errors in formatting

No errors in formatting


0 points

12 points

14 points

16 points

18 points

20 points








Total points









Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson



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