Note Syllables Lesson

By |2018-10-26T09:17:13-07:00November 17th, 2016|

At first glance, early childhood arts integration lessons should be easy.  After all, our youngest students often have the most opportunity for creativity and play.  But as it turns out, integrating the arts with intentionality is not so simple.  Take this Note Syllables Lesson for example:



Many kindergarten teachers already teach syllables using fun chants and clapping sounds.  However, this Note Syllables Lesson takes it quite a bit further.  We are truly integrating the music standard with the literacy standard, making for a more cohesive and meaningful exploration of sound segments and syllables.

This is often the case when we dive into arts integration – it’s perfectly normal!  We feel like we “already do this”, but it somehow doesn’t feel as rich and in-depth as it could.  Here are some examples of how we’ve taken a fairly standard Note Syllables Lesson and bumped it up a notch:


If you’re using or developing a Note Syllables Lesson that aligns an art standard with a content standard, you’re already half-way there.  Selecting and framing your lesson around naturally-aligned standards tightens up your process and ensures your teaching both with integrity.  In this lesson, check out we are constantly going back and checking student understanding of both the syllables and the sound correlation.


An integrated lesson means that you are teaching each standard equitably, not equally.  You may need to spend more time in one content area and less in another.  That’s okay…so long as you are addressing both standards in your teaching.  For example, in today’s lesson, we’re spending much more time in the connection between sounds and syllables than on teaching either the concept of a syllable or the concept of eighth/quarter note rhythms.


The assessment doesn’t have to be complicated!  Remember that assessment is simply a measurement of growth, not evaluating mastery.  So in this lesson example, we are using a checklist that identifies student success in both identification and use of syllables and in the use of musical rhythms.

Looking for more Note Syllables Lesson ideas like these?

Be sure to check out our lessons page with over 80 free Arts Integration and STEAM lessons to download.  And if you’re interested in learning how to create a lesson like this for your own classroom, I highly recommend checking our our Creative Mindset Blueprint online class for 10 PD hours.

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  1. Joe Clark November 30, 2016 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Hey Susan, Thank you for all your work. I’m working on my dissertation which involves implementing Arts Integration in a K-12 public school district (I’m the fine arts director for the district). Could you point me to the general direction of anyone that’s written on this topic, or anyone’s Literature Review where I can dig for myself?

    • Susan Riley December 1, 2016 at 5:53 am - Reply

      Hey there Joe! I actually have quite a bit of research on this myself. I’ll email you what I’ve got – hope it helps!

  2. Francesca H Lopez June 29, 2018 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Susan,

    I am the executive director of a children’s theatre group. In 2017 the school district hired us to integrate theater into their curriculum. For 2nd graders we took the approach of acting out your books and used Corduroy, Three Billy Goats Gruff and Those Darn Squirrels. It took me a while but I did finally develop a curriculum for the 2nd grade. The kids loved it. The Superintendent is now asking me to add the 4th grade. I googled and your site came up. What I am interested in would be your integration of theater for grades k-12. Do you have something that specific? If you do I would be very very interested. PLease let me know and also how I woud purchase the lessons.

    Thank You, Francesca

    • Susan Riley July 1, 2018 at 4:28 am - Reply

      Hi Francesa! My first thought is to check out our curriculum at as there are definitely theater lessons there. But currently, it’s only for K-5 (6-12 will be added at the end of 2018) and it’s not JUST theater. It’s inclusive of all of the arts. The other idea is just sorting out our free lessons using the Theater tab. You can do that here: There’s 16 lessons in there right now. You could use those and supplement with additional lessons from the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge website as well.

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