Substitute music teacher lessons are usually determined by the music teacher. There are those times, however when teachers don't expect to be absent and substitute teachers must come up with creative lesson ideas on the fly. Many elementary music lesson ideas can be incorporated into a classroom with little or no preparation that will benefit the children and not waste valuable class time.

Sing Rhymes and Finger Plays

Rhymes and finger plays work well for young elementary classrooms.
Rhymes and finger plays work well for young elementary classrooms.

Rhymes and finger plays are perfect ideas for the younger elementary music classrooms. Younger students enjoy singing songs like, "Mr. Sun," "Three Little Ducks," "Wheels On the Bus," and "Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?" Gather the students together in a circle and clap, snap and sing as a group. If students get bored, have a nursery rhyme coloring page on hand to complete the time.

Write Rap Songs

Students enjoy writing poetry.
Students enjoy writing poetry.

Rap is an informal form of art presented in musical form. It is presented in a rhythmic manner and is usually accompanied with drums or Hip Hop music. Rap usually involves emotional or social issues and can deal with issues that are of any emotion. Ask students to brainstorm uplifting thoughts. Keep it light or silly. Create a topic web on the board. Review the meaning of metaphor, simile and symbolism, as suggested by Reading A to Z Online. Let the students practice their rap poetry.

Musical Centers

Elementary students enjoy singing together.
Elementary students enjoy singing together.

Elementary substitute teachers can incorporate learning centers into a music class, especially since students quickly get bored with doing just one activity the entire class period. Separate the students into groups. Set up stations that the students will rotate into. Stations can include the following:

1 -- Singing Station -- Students can sing songs that they have learned throughout the year. 2 -- Computer Station -- Students can log onto Music Teacher Online. Beneath Music Information - Theory, click "Instruments." Students can learn about instrument families and click on green buttons to hear various instrument sounds. 3 -- Drawing Station -- Students can gather at a table to draw their favorite instrument that they listened to at the computer station. 4 -- Back to the Desk -- Instruct students to go back to their desk to brainstorm their own song, band name or both.

The Non-Musical Sub

Musical videos are effective, last-minute lesson ideas.
Musical videos are effective, last-minute lesson ideas.

Schools can't always request substitutes that are trained in specific areas. Non-musical elementary substitutes can play musical videos for a class as a part of a lesson plan. If a video is used, ask students to write down three important facts from the video or write three questions on the board for them to answer. This ensures that students will pay attention during the presentation.

Musical games, such as Music Jeopardy, Music Hangman, and Music Concentration can also be played quietly during class time. If games aren't available, ask students to write paragraphs about their favorite songs or their earliest memory about music. Ask each student to talk about a specific instrument they play or would like to learn to play. Ask students to draw the instrument discussed. Leave a report for the teacher's return.