Songs for the Classroom Help Children Learn and Remember Sight Words

Songs for the classroom are one way to help children learn and remember sight words. These songs for learning support the use of music in education.

Most researchers agree that the music of Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, and other composers of the Baroque era is beneficial to memory when played softly in the background where learning is taking place. The recurring themes used by these composers activate the left brain hemisphere while the music itself activates the right. Both hemispheres must be involved in order for memory to take place.

The presence of a steady beat is compatible with brain function and therefore improves memory because blood is pumped rhythmically through the brain by the steady beating of the heart. In some schools, the beat of a metronome comes and goes over the intercom throughout the day.

A very good online metronome is available at Metronome Online. You may also download TempoPerfect to place on your machine. Since resting heart rate is 60 beats per minute, that is a good setting with which to begin.

Since sight word instruction depends on the ability to remember those words, songs for the classroom are ideal for learning them.

Sight Word Oldies

Many songs, particularly from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, repeat sight words and lend themselves well to the creation of clapping games and the use of rhythm instruments such as those found in rhythm bands. My second graders learned lots of words with songs for the classroom used in this way, and they loved every minute of it.

When we heard a sight word in the song, we all stopped and pointed to the word on the wall. It was a good way for us to add another word wall and/or expand an existing one, too.

Always screen the lyrics of potential songs yourself to be sure that they are appropriate for children.

Here are some of our favorites:

Say, Say, Say - Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson

Words which seem particularly difficult for second graders are /w/ and /wh/ words. This song has the word “Who” repeated several times in a row so it is a good song to use for practicing this word as well as the obvious “Say, Say, Say.” Everyone stops dancing/clapping to point at these words on the wall when they hear them in the song.

Mustang Sally (Ride, Sally, Ride) – The Commitments

This is one of the best songs for a clapping game which students can help create.

One possibility is the following pattern of movement, executed on the beat and performed as partners, facing each another:

Lap - Hands on lap
Clap - Each claps his own hands together
Right - Each reaches across to clap right hand with right hand of partner
Clap – Each claps his own hands together
Left – Each reaches across to clap left hand with left hand of partner
Clap – Each claps his own hands together
Both – Each claps both hands with the hands of his partner without crossing
Clap – Each claps his own hands together
(Repeat)



Shake, Shake, Shake - KC and the Sunshine Band

The same clapping pattern described earlier will work for this song, too.

Black and White - Three Dog Night

Using rhythm band instruments works well with this selection, with everyone stopping to point to the wall when the words “black” and “white” are sung.

Stop! In the Name of Love - The Supremes

Students will enjoy creating their own pattern of movements for this song, the only stipulation being that they should stop and point at the word “Stop!” on the wall.


Return to Dolch Sight Words from Songs for the Classroom
Go to Word Walls from Songs for the Classroom

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More Sight Word Oldies


Give Up the Funk - Parliament

Used specifically for the word family /unk/, the clapping pattern below fits very well.


Lap - Hands on lap

Clap - Each claps his own hands together

Right - Each reaches across to clap right hand with right hand of partner

Clap – Each claps his own hands together

Left – Each reaches across to clap left hand with left hand of partner

Clap and hold – Each claps his own hands together and pauses before doing the next two claps in rapid succession as indicated by the music

Two claps - Each claps his own hands together two times

(Repeat)


HELP Me, Rhonda - The Beach Boys

CLAP for the Wolfman - The Guess Who (How can you not like this song??)

TWIST and SHOUT - The Beatles

GOOD Vibrations - The Beach Boys






About Clapping Games

It is important to involve children as much as possible in the creation of clapping games. Clapping the beat is never more important than in the afternoons when serotonin levels begin to drop.

Lowering the lighting and making use of natural light can help children conserve serotonin as harsh overhead fluorescent lights tend to destroy it fairly rapidly. Turning them off or covering them with filters can help lower stress by creating a more brain-friendly learning environment