Amy M. Burns

Elementary Music Technology and Integration

Amy M. Burns has taught PreK-grade 4 general music for over 20 years at Far Hills Country Day School. She has authored three books on how to integrate tech into the elementary music classroom. She has presented many sessions on the topic, including four keynote addresses in TX, IN, St. Maarten, and AU. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year, 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher, 2016 Governor’s Leader in Arts Education, and the 2017 NJ Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year Awards.

Assessment: Using Recordings as an Assessment Tool

Example: Recording Songs for our Annual Halloween Parade:

On October 31, we hold our school’s annual Halloween Parade/Fall Music Festival. In years where we did not have a snow storm or a major hurricane that knocked out power for days on  end, we usually have  weather that is nice and we prepare our Fall Songs. The PreK/K sang six songs for this year’s parade. I recorded them using GarageBand app for the iPad (Price: free, but worth spending $4.99 for the upgrade). When we record ourselves, the kindergartners listen and evaluate their own performances. This results in them using musical terminology to describe their sounds (“we sang softly” or “we sang that very loud”, etc). In the past, I have used portable voice recorders (M-Audio), or Audacity on my laptop, or GarageBand or Soundtrap on my laptop connected to a snowball mic (this can also be done with the app with the inclusion of the camera connection kit as well as if you are working with an older iPad). Some of the song list consisted of:

1. Halloween is Coming: This song can be found by googling the title followed by "ha ha ha". We made this song into a finger play. I also brought out the combination of "h" and "a", the sound the two letters make together, and how it is the first two letters of Halloween.

2. Three Black Bats: I found this song in the book Holiday Piggyback Songs, which is a book of holiday songs sung to familiar children's songs. Three Black Bats is sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice. We created motions to use with this song and if you have advance enough singers, you can try to sing this song as a round.

3. "1 2 3 4" sung by Feist (video can be found here: My concert theme for PreK this year is numbers. When I came across this song on the youtube sesame street channel when my oldest was 18 months, I immediately adored it. There are numerous songs from that show that are current pop tunes that were rewritten with educations lyrics for younger children. The three through five year-olds adore moving to song (we move like the animals named in the song) and singing the song.

4. This Old Ghost: Another favorite found in the book Holiday Piggyback Songs. This is a number songs that included four verses. The kindergartners made up three more to have the song go up to seven. They love to rhyme at this age and it was a fun activity for them to create new verses.

5. Five Little Pumpkins: A very popular song, poem, fingerplay, and numerous books can be found for this. Just by googling “five little pumpkins powerpoint”, I found this excellent powerpoint by Kelly Nyman on her kindergarten classroom website, This powerpoint is synced to music that would not download, however, since we are music educators, we can supply the music and the students can supply the vocals. 

6. The Day After Halloween by Greg Gilpin from So Much To Sing About! Ten Songs for Special Times Throughout the School Year. My students and my teachers love this song, especially the lines “It’s the day after Halloween. I’ve got the biggest sugar buzz you’ve ever seen teacher wants to scream!” I used Audacity to import the song file, used the effects menu and scrolled down to “change tempo,” and slowed the tempo down on the song. This made it a little easier for the students to sing and chant the middle verse.

7. Skeleton Shake by David and Anne Ellsworth (Music K8 24/1) - My PreK and K loved this song because it had them singing and moving. They were able to create and perform their own movements. In this recording, you hear a clip of them singing with the recording. 

8. Ghost and Goblins, Cats and Bats - Another favorite song found in the book Holiday Piggyback Songs. This song is especially great for younger children because it reminds the younger ones that Halloween is about dress-up and that the costumes are not real ghost and goblins, cats and bats. This recording was made over a decade ago, when I was a novice teacher. When I listen to this, I would not record the song with piano or with me singing along. I would now record this song the way I teach it: the students would sing the song acapella and with no assistance from me.

9. Me Gusta Mi Escuela by Mike Wilson (Music K8 19/1) - I have had my PreK/K sing this at our Fall Music Festival because it has my students singing in Spanish and English, and the students are singing about how much they love their school and their teachers. This is a very short clip.

10. Body Boogie by Teresa and Paul Jennings (Music K8 15/1) - This has been one of my students' favorite songs for years. This song has students moving and singing, as well as improvising or creating their own movements to the song. It improvising or creating their own movements to the song. It also has a great cross-curricular connection with the study of body parts. Finally, the accompanying big band sound track is wonderful.

11. Itsy Bitsy Spider - Halloween Version - I found this song through a Google search. The recording is of my kindergartners. One kindergartner got excited at the end and I had to cut off the ending. However, you will be able to identify the lyrics and the melody. 

12. Do You Hear a Ghostly Sound? - During this song, the students would hide a scarf behind their backs until the final "Boo!". At the final "Boo!", the students would throw their scarves into the air. The students loved watching the scarf float down to the ground. 

13. Do You Know It's Halloween? This song has the same melody as #12 and is a great opener to a Halloween Parade held on Halloween day.

If you would like the .notebook file for some the songs, you can find it here:

PreK/K Halloween 2015

PreK/K Halloween Songs 2014

PreK/K Halloween 2013

Photo credits:


Any info, student examples, pictures, graphics, etc, may be used with permission. Please contact me personally before using any info, student examples, pictures, graphics, etc.