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10 songs to get YOUNG students energized

Action songs are the simplest way to get the youngest students engaged. Such songs, dozens of which can be found online, are always upbeat and hard to resist even for us, serious adults. They involve some basic vocabulary and often come with karaoke-style subtitles. Moreover, action songs stimulate the three main styles of learning – visual the video, auditory music and kinesthetic actions. Thus, action songs are not only fun for kids and convenient for the teacher, they are also a high quality educational resource. Below is a list of the 10 best songs we use in the classrooms.

Pharrell Williams - Happy

Original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbZSe6N_BXs

 

Minions version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOWDb2TBYDg

 

This one is a bomb. It was in the animated movie Despicable Me and all kids know it well. Still, the energy in this pop song is unparalleled. 

 

The procedure:

 

1. As a group come up with simple words and corresponding actions:

 

hot, cold, sunny, cloudy, windy, rainy

 

Or

 

lion, monkey, giraffe, hippo, cat, dolphin

 

2. Ask your students to stand up and move around the classroom. 

 

3. Play the song and see how they immediately start dancing. It’s impossible to resist the song; it’s simply too energetic!

 

4. At some point stop the music and scream one of the words: HOT! 

 

5. Students must do the action you’ve agreed on. Who confuses the action sits down.

If You’re Happy Clap Your Hands

Personally I find this video unsettling, but the kids seem to love it and it offers a lot of simple movements to perform. I recommend this one for more experienced kiddies than total beginners. 

 

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfCMRk-osJ8 

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

 

Clap your hands, Click your fingers, Tap your shoulders, Nod your head, Blink your eyes, Pull your ears, Turns around, Twist your body, Touch the ground, Slap your thighs, Stomp your feet, Clap your hands, Say hello. 

 

There’s also an easier version of the song.

 

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4WNrvVjiTw 

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

 

Happy – clap your hands, 

Angry – stomp your feet, 

Scared – say oh no, 

Sleepy – take a nap,

Wheels On The Bus

I absolutely love the effort that someone put into animating this song. And so will your beloved learners, I’m sure. 

 

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_04ZrNroTo 

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

 

Wheels – round and round

All through the town

Doors – open and shut

All through the town

Wipers – swish, swish, swish

All through the town

Signals – blink, blink, blink

All through the town

Horn – beep, beep, beep

All through the town

Motor – vroom, vroom, vroom

All through the town

People – up and down

All through the town

Babies – wah, wah, wah

All through the town

Mommies – shh, shh, shh

All through the town

Daddies – I love you

All through the town

The Singing Walrus

We’re not 100% clear on the title since it appears to be a chicken not walrus but, hey, that doesn’t make this song any less catchy.

 

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUXk8Nc5qQ8 

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

 

Clap your hands, Stomp your feet, Swing your arms, Jump around, Touch the sky, Touch the ground, Shake your hips.

Old MacDonald Had A Farm

Any such list would be incomplete without this classic.

 

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6HzoUcx3eo 

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

 

Pig – oink, oink

Duck – quack, quack

Horse – neigh (ney), neigh (ney)

Sheep – baa, baa

Cow – moo, moo

Turkey – gobble, gobble

Hokey Pokey

Here’s a fun song to do in a group. The lyrics are all about instructions, which are easy enough for any age and level. It’s also great for learning basics such as in & out, right & left. 

 

Live action song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ogs1lUwjak (recommended)

 

Animated version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZinb6rVozc

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

 

Put left foot IN

Put left foot OUT

Shake it

 

Put right foot IN

Put right foot OUT

Shake it

 

Put right hand IN

Put right hand OUT

Shake it

 

Put left hand IN

Put left hand OUT

Shake it

 

Put bottom IN

Put bottom OUT

Shake it

 

Put head IN

Put head OUT

Shake it

The Freeze Song

If your pupils are in the right mood this one will be a killer. It’s simple yet fun. Short yet engaging, catchy and energizing. There are many versions of this song, however, I highly recommend this live action rendition:

 

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=388Q44ReOWE

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

 

Right hand on the left knee

Left hand on the right knee

 

Knees move in and out

Hands stay tight

 

Keep on moving but switch hands

 

Put one hand across your shoulder

And one hand across the back

 

Jump in place

 

Shake your body

From your head to the feet

 

Put your right hand on your head

And your left on someone else’s knee

 

Turn in a circle.

 

Turn the other way.

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off

When I introduced this to my classroom it became an instant favourite. I kid you not (pun unintended) for the next 3 weeks my beloved students (and I’m talking about 7 graders here) forced me to start every lesson by shaking with Taylor. 

 

Song (with lyrics): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIOVMHMNfJ4 

 

Before you play this establish some actions for these words:

 

Shake, Play, Hate, Break, Fake and… shake it off! 

 

The actions can be anything, from simple hand movements to sophisticated mime routines. For the grand finale of Shake If Off I suggest a full body seizure.

Hakuna Matata

Admittedly, this choice might be a bit risky. Unless your students are crazy about the Lion King they might not engage with this 90s classic. That said, as of this writing a live action reboot that has just came out in the cinemas, so who knows, maybe this amazing film and its songs will reach the current young generation too. 

 

Original (from Lion King): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB5ceAruYrI 

 

Official lyric video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4zG1Tnt5A8 (this is brilliant)

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

While it’s hard to learn all the lyrics, plus only half of the ‘song’ is actually sang, I recommend introducing only the strong punctuation words such as:

 

Hakkuna Matata

Wonderful Phrase

Craze

No Worries

Days

Problem Free

Philosophy

The Coconut Song

 

This last song is our bonus gift to YOU. This modern masterpiece is wacky enough for kids not to notice how utterly insane this creation is. Put this on, sit back, relax and enjoy the 3 minutes long psychedelic trip you’ve earned. 

 

Plus, if you haven’t seen it before we challenge you to watch it all with a straight face 😉

 

Best of internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0AOGeqOnFY 

 

Vocabulary & Actions:

 

Coconut

Nut

Fat

Tree

Family

House

Yup that’s it!

 

It’s also surprisingly educational, I mean, did you know that the coconut is a fruit??

Bonus: Despacito Zumba

We’re including this as a bonus because this song is in Spanish, however, our young students don’t seem to mind it at all and are absolutely obsessed with this zumba class. 


Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkRTgXy4HeQ&pbjreload=10

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