Music for Earth Day: Songs, Lessons, and Suggestions

Earth Day is one of those opportunities that comes along every year for music educators to collaborate with other members of the school community. Doing so strengthens the prestige of the music program, and relationships with teachers and administrators in your building. Many schools, particularly elementary schools, hold Earth Day activities, and feature themed activities and lessons designed to teach students what taking care of the enviroment looks like, and what they can do to contribute to environmental health.

Because music concepts can be taught with a vast variety of musical genres and styles, the music educator does not need to put their curriuclum on hold or interrupt an instructional unit in progress to particpate in Earth Day activities. Utilizing musical materials with an environmental theme can fit neatly and unobtrusively into the flow of what is in progress in your classroom. In addition, I have found that students often enjoy these songs, both because they are good songs, and because the lyrics in these songs are about things the students care about. Besides using them to teach musical concepts, students can create visual art in the form of posters that are motivated and inspired by the songs as they listen to them, and then those poseters can be displayed outside the music classroom as a way of participating in Earth Day activities. It is even possible to create a performance opportunity by collecting these posters and holding an “art opening” with them, with student musicians performing music for those who view the art. For the current climate of distance learning, this can be done by having students prepare performances at home, alone or with others online, and then upload them to your classroom account. The artwork can also be done at home while listening to the music and uploaded. (For a discussion of how to manage this, see my post, Managing Distance Music Teaching During COVID-19 Shutdowns. Other teachers may also want to use the same songs in their classrooms as writing prompts that can also be integrated and/or displayed with the posters.

Here are some of my favorite Earth Day themed songs.

  1. Big Yellow Taxi
  2. Mercy Mercy Me
  3. Carolina On My Mind
  4. Beautiful Day
  5. Feels Like Summer
  6. The Rape of the World
  7. My City Was Gone
  8. Earth Song
  9. Wildlife
  10. Coming of the Roads

In addition to using these songs in your own way, you may also be interested in some lessons from TeachRock. I have found the lessons here to be successful with my students, and they are now designing lessons for distance learning. Happy Earth Day!

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