How I Lesson Plan for Group Classes

I’ve had a few requests lately from readers regarding more info about what kind of activities I do with my Homeschool Music Classes and Piano Readiness classes, so I thought it might first be a good idea to first give you a peek into how I lesson plan for group classes.  Although I don’t lesson plan for teaching private lessons, I do always make a plan for group classes.

At each class, we begin and end with a “Hello Song” and “Goodbye Song.”  Students like having this routine, and they are very good at reminding me about the songs if I forget about them!  I have the students tap the beat on their knees (as we sit cross-legged on our carpet squares) while we sing.  That way, I can tell if they are engaged even if they aren’t singing all the lyrics for one reason or another.

When I lesson plan the evening before the next day’s class, I try to include the following things: 

  • Some kind of worksheet or written activity that they can take home and show their parents or hang on the fridge.
  • At least one kind of movement activity.   I believe that the best way to develop a good sense of rhythm in students is through movement-related activities.  Including movement activities in classes is strategic also because young children can’t sit still for very long.  I find it’s best to do a movement activity right before the worksheet time so they can get their wiggles out!
  • At least one activity using the piano.  I use silent keyboards and other props/games to learn various pre-piano concepts away from the piano, but I also make it a priority to let them use the actual piano because 1) that’s the whole point: nurturing a desire to make beautiful sounds at the piano; and 2) they love it so much!

On my lesson plan, I organize each activity chronologically, with a note next to each activity of the approximate time that each activity will begin.  I usually watch the clock pretty closely as I teach and try to stay on schedule.  If an activity takes longer or shorter than I anticipated, I adjust the next activity accordingly.  I also plan an “if time” activity in case it’s needed.  It’s important to be flexible!

At the end of the lesson plan, I compile a list of needed materials, so that I can easily gather them the next day before class and put everything in a basket.

Since the Homeschool Music class is intended to be a more academic class (versus the focus on music-making and pre-piano skills of the Piano Readiness Class), we are studying a composer each week.  I let them color a coloring page of the composer while I read a simple biography.  Then we listen to a famous composition and complete a worksheet that I create about the composition.

Here’s a screenshot of a lesson plan from last October, complete with all the elements mentioned above (click the image to enlarge, and then hit esc. to exit from viewing the image):

Printables mentioned in this lesson plan: the Rainy Rhythm game, the Musical Instruments Workbook, and the Musical Alphabet cards.

That pretty much sums up my method of lesson planning.  If you have questions or your own tips about lesson planning, share them in the comments!

PG
Joy Morin is a piano teacher in Perrysburg, Ohio (United States) who enjoys keeping her teaching fresh with new ideas and resources. ColorInMyPiano.com serves as a journal of her adventures in piano teaching as well as a place to exchange ideas and resources.

Joy has blogged 930 posts here.

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4 Comments

  1. Brooke
    Posted 28 January 2012 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! What tunes do you use for your hello and goodbye songs?

  2. Erica Picciano
    Posted 14 January 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Hey Joy! I just came across this blog post as I as searching for group lesson information! Recently I got asked to teach a good size group of young students. While I’m really excited about this opportunity, I’m now attempting to do a lesson plan for the class. I’ve never done this before! I was wondering if you might be willing to share (if you have it) a copy of what you would do at a first lesson. I noticed the lesson plan you shared here was for week 2. Is that possible? This class is probably going to be similar to your Piano Readiness class. Thanks so much and as always I love reading your blog! :-)

    • Posted 14 January 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      An important thing about lesson planning is being able to think big (plan ahead for following weeks, so you can work your way towards your semester-end goals) while also thinking small (breaking down those goals into manageable pieces that you can teach gradually!). Think about the concepts you want to teach each week, and then come up with activities that will teach those concepts to your students.

      I would try to cover a variety of topics each week. You’ll want to be able to return to each topic in following weeks, to review and expand on it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

      Singing — Find some simple songs to teach them, like a Hello and Goodbye songs. There are lots of other cute preschool songs and fingerplays on YouTube. I love “Three Speckled Frogs,” for one.
      Rhythm — for the first week, I’d probably focus on a finding-the-beat game (have them walk in a circle to music excerpts). Then, I’d try some simple rhythm clap-backs to develop their ear.
      Notation — The Rainy Rhythm activity linked to above is a great introduction to rhythmic notation.
      Listening — Listening for high/low sounds. Or, you could focus on loud/soft. These activities should be listening based, but also movement based! For example, you can have students stand with their arms in the air when they hear loud (or high) sounds, and crouch down to the ground when they hear soft (or low) sounds.
      Piano Skills — I would probably start with learning finger numbers. There are songs about the finger numbers on the Music For Little Mozarts CD and the Faber My First Piano Adventure CD. Later, you can learn hand shape and wrist motion (Faber has some other songs that are great for this).
      Piano Topography — Learn the black key groups of 2’s and 3’s.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have other questions. Good luck with your new class!!

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