Te Kotahitanga
Manu Reo o Aotearoa

Year 1-2 Singing

“I love singing, even though I can't sing in tune, and enjoy the joy and happiness it brings to the classroom. Pupils are able to remember things better through song/rhyme.” Teacher feedback

Make singing part of the day

Singing works best when it is just another activity that children take part in during the day:

Keep it fun

  • Simple repetitive songs work really well for this age group, with a limited vocal range.

  • Singing games, or songs with simple actions are great for Year 1 and 2, for example, Hello Hello song.

  • Songs that stimulate the imagination are great for these year groups too, for example, The Penguin Song.

Use songs to reinforce literacy

  • Use chants and rhymes to reinforce literacy.

  • Chanting and singing with a steady pulse will help students with word emphasis.

  • Print out the lyrics of songs and get students to - for example - find certain words, or underline capital letters.

  • Singable books - many picture books can be "sung" and there are lots of examples of these on YouTube, like Over in the Meadow (sung.) 

Focus on tone

  • Choose recordings where the singing tone is light and clear (or try to model this) so that students develop their listening skills and ability to sing in tune.

  • Remind students not to shout-sing as this is damaging for their voices.

  • Year 1 and 2 students are small, so their voices will mostly be small too - this is fine. Check that accompaniments or backing tracks aren't too loud.

  • Get the students to describe what they hear to encourage listening - getting used to listening can help pitching for students who "drone."

Children  Singing (online)

Explore sound

Students don't care if singing isn't perfect - they will love singing and hearing you sing, and anything you can do will be beneficial!

  • Get students to explore their voices and see what they can do (like high and low, different vocal sounds and noises.)

  • Echo games, where the students copy back noises, phrases, or sounds are a great way to help them explore their voices, for example, E Toru Nga Mea or Copycat Rap.

  • Use games to show sounds physically, like marching with big steps when the song is loud, and small steps when it is soft.

  • Make physical movements that represent sounds (like move like a snake, an elephant, grow like a tree in response to music.)

You'll need:

Yourself! And your tamariki. Songs from Spotify and YouTube are great - and a projector and speaker are helpful for these - but all that children need to get singing is a voice they can join in with. For learning tasks, you may want to print out the lyrics of songs for the students, but otherwise get them to sing from memory. For further information, see Hear Our Voices by Megan Flint, Mary Cornish and Maria Winder, or get in touch.

Song ideas for Year 1-2

What’s a bug? – Kath Bee

  • Fun text, catchy, mostly good vocal range for young voices 
  • Some call and response
  • Good repetition of the melody and the text make for easy learning
  • Clear melody, not overpowered by harmonies or instruments
  • Lyric video

Waihanga hanga tanga –Nga Pihi 4/Taku mei ao (Teacher notes page)

  • Good vocal range
  • Interesting melody
  • Good repetition, predictable melody makes it easy for children to learn
  • Clear melody, not overpowered by harmonies or instruments

Ko taku upoko from Hei Waiata Hei Whakakoa – no lyric video but words, performance tracks and mp3 backing tracks available.

  • A little low for young voices but is a fun movement/action song
  • Good model of speech section – lifted vocal tone
  • Clear melody, not overpowered by harmonies or instruments

Kōrero parirau – Nga Pihi 1

  • Good action song; great for movement and language
  • Recording is low but the song can easily be transposed higher
  • Covers a whole octave so suggest comfortable starting pitch is C
  • Fun, catchy melody

Le ‘Aute – Kiwi Kids Songs

  • Lovely melody; simple, easily learnt
  • Good use of repetition
  • Good vocal range
  • Fun activity - movement
  • Samoan language

My hat it has three corners – Sing up (free but sign up required)

  • Good vocal range
  • Fun activity – encourages listening before singing - "inner hearing"
  • Clear melody, not overpowered by harmonies or instruments
  • Repetition helps with ease of learning

One finger one thumb - Sing up (free but sign up required)

  • Good vocal range
  • Fun activity – movement
  • Clear melody, not overpowered by harmonies or instruments
  • Repetition helps with ease of learning

Little Caterpillar - Peter Combe

  • Vocal range a low at the start but extends up
  • Fun activity – movement
  • Clear melody, not overpowered by harmonies or instruments
  • Gentle, lullaby-like; interesting melody – a little more challenging

Websites for more Y1-2 songs

Kiwi songwriter Kath Bee's YouTube channel including songs about paper planesbugsdragons, and dancing kākāpō

NZ Children's Music duo Itty Bitty Beats' YouTube channel including songs about the solar systemmixing coloursa tiny pirate and Tekau ngā Kiwi Iti e (Ten Little Kiwi Birds) Counting Song

HNU Singplaymove songs (unaccompanied) have simple messages and hand movements including 5 Speckled Frogs (with puppets) and the Fingers Like to Wiggle Song

The Singing Space has fun videos for younger learners too, including singing stories There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and The Wonky Donkey

Michal's YouTube channel is a great place for fun songs with puppet friend Moe, including Old MacDonald Had a FarmSing the Alphabet, and Wash Your Hands

The iconic, recently re-released Kiwi Kidsongs with songs for all age groups, including Sausages and Custard, ​​​​Dad I want to be a camel and Two Legged Mice