How-To Use Music in the Social Studies Classroom

Social Studies teachers often hear how boring our content is from students of all ages and ability levels.  However, these same students will listen to music of all kinds, often engaging with the tunes in every possible way.  Why not use this addiction to the beat to our advantage?

Great tips for using music in the social studies classroom

How can you use music in your Social Studies classroom? Here's a quick how-to and a short list of my favorite toe-tapping tunes for each Social Studies content area!

Read more for tips on using music in the Social Studies classroom

First the How-Tos:
  1. Introduce units with music from the times.  Have students analyze the beat, the lyrics, or simply the feel of the music.  Encourage students to share their thoughts on the music or to predict the theme of the unit based on the music.
  2. Allow students to listen to music from historic eras to evaluate opposing viewpoints or perspectives on the times.  Create t-charts or Venn diagrams on the board with students adding points as the music plays.
  3. Have student create their own songs to describe eras in history.  They can perform the songs or simply present the lyrics to share researched topics or to review content.
  4. Utilize available technology (including student cell phones) to record videos on topics of study or content chants to help students remember and retain content.
  5. Use time appropriate music in centers or Walking Tours where students can immerse themselves in the period for a better understanding of the time period.
  6. Introduce music and dance from each era, teaching students the most popular moves, allowing them to examine the change in both music and dance over time.
  7. Simply play music in the background as students read, research, or complete assignments.  Music can be soothing, will help with memory, and can engage those otherwise distracted.
And now a few of my favorites:
Using music in the classroom will not only enhance your students' content knowledge, it will also help them to retain the content they learn.  But more importantly, it will keep them engaged and excited about learning Social Studies. That's the best benefit of all!

Using music in the middle or high school classroom can help students engage in content and retain that content for later recall. Here are how-to tips and ideas for reaching those auditory learners.

Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck

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