Have you noticed how much better you remember phrases that go with a tune? I can still sing commercial jingles that I heard when I was 4! Like the song about all the ingredients in a Big Mac. What a waste of brain space! Many wonderful people have capitalized on this phenomenon and created some cheery songs to teach facts that everybody should know to have basic American cultural literacy. That’s not a waste of brain space! So here is my top ten list resources for such songs, as well as some songs from my religion to teach spiritual truths. It’s too hard to pick my top ten favorite songs, so I’m listing them by the name of the composer, or the resource. I love them all! Maybe my older kids who have graduated from my homeschool can comment on their favorites. Two of them honored me a few years ago by getting the Singin’ Smart songs onto my iPad somehow, a feat I can’t even imagine being able to do.
I’ve used most of these songs through the years in my homeschooling. The younger kids groan when they hear them, because I haven’t played them enough to endear the songs to them, I guess. The older children appreciate them. My second oldest son told me just a bit ago how grateful he is that I exposed him to all these educational songs. They still pop up in his head from time to time, giving him much enjoyment. Hopefully the younger ones will appreciate them when they are old too, when time tends to make wholesome things beautifully nostalgic and not irritating in any way. A few of the resources are new to me and I want to start using them with the younger kids. Hopefully also the grandchildren when they come to visit. ( My idea of heaven is being able to homeschool them.)
So, I present to you, “Tree of Life Mama’s Top Ten List of Resources for Songs That Teach”:
- On top of the list is Janeen Brady, of course. Pictured above, she is a legend! How could I not mention her? I remember her songs as a child myself. She is the master of educational tunes. For decades, her company, Brite Music, has distributed her music to thousands of kids, teaching them about character traits, good hygiene, personal safety, phonics/how to read, animals, seasons, nature, holidays, weather, multiplication facts, the US Constitution, and much, much more. She has written dozens of songs. All of the music is so catchy! the video at the top is her song to teach the 3 times tables, from her album, “Time to Times.”
2. Next, we have Singin’ Smart by Pamela Peterson. She’s the aunt of a childhood friend of mine. These songs aren’t nearly as well-known as Janeen Brady’s songs but just as catchy. You can get Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here. These songs teach things like US states (see above) and capitals of the US, the planets, the US presidents, the countries of South America, Europe, and Africa, the bones of the human body, the explorers of the world, mountains of the world, good table manners, the muscles of the human body, the Dewey Decimal system, the preamble to the US Constitution, the branches of the federal government, and more. I learned about these from LaDawn Jacob. Some of her children are the vocalists, and my amazing brother-in-law is the guitarist. My husband got these for me when I was a young mom of two children ages 1 and 3. This was decades ago, when you couldn’t buy whatever you wanted on the web. They were my favorite Christmas presents that year. That’s just how nerdy I am. He definitely scored the husband points!
3. Geography Songs Sing Around the World by Larry and Kathy Troxel. I played these songs back when the format was cassette tapes, just like my Singin’ Smart songs were on cassette tapes. That’s how long I’ve been homeschooling! These are all so much fun to sing. Buy here where it’s cheaper, or on amazon here.
4. Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans Songs
Somehow I found these during my Layton UT homeschooling years and played them a lot for the older kids. They are from the 60s and have that funky, 60s-ish vibe to them.
Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans Space Songs are here. “Zoom a little zoom in a rocket ship,” longitude and latitude, and more.
Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans Weather Songs are here. You’ll be singing about clouds, the sun, hurricanes, the water cycle, etc.
Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans Energy and Motion Songs are here. It’s the song about kinetic and potential energy that most recently appeared in my sons’ brain as he was taking a test for one of his college classes. the Ballad of Isaac Newton is especially fun.
5. Beethoven’s Wig by Richard Perlmutter. These songs get you and your children familiar with classical music. Each songs has funny lyrics for the song. They don’t teach facts, other than the composer’s name of that song, like Grieg for the “In The Hall of The Mountain King,” from Peer Gynt Suite. I discovered these at the public library years ago. So fun! Get them here. I’ve daydreamed about getting a group of homeschoolers to do a zany show with a skit for each of these songs. How fun does that sound?!
6. Primary Songs from the Children’s Songbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can’t forget mentioning these songs. You can learn the Articles of Faith, the presidents of the Church, and gospel doctrine, plus invite the Holy Spirit into your heart by singing these songs. (I love too all the “other songs” not in the Songbook by many composers in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have compiled links to all the songs published in the Church magazines in my Celestial Family Devotionals Ebook, free over here. These include songs about the mom being careful about what she bakes for her family, (I especially love that one…”When mother goes to shop for food, she chooses carefully…the Word of Wisdom is her guide, to help her family,” Noah’s Ark, temples, the stripling warriors, Melanie Hoffman’s Gethsemane song, the same one sung by Claire Crosby below, and much, much more.)
7. Scripture Scouts Songs by Roger and Melanie Hoffman, Marvin Payne, Janice Kapp Perry and Steven Kapp Perry. These songs teach scripture stories and the principles contained therein, like the Golden Rule, priesthood power, and temple ordinances. The volumes are Old Testament, New Testament, The Book of Mormon, Articles of Faith, and the Proclamation on the Family. My older children have such fond memories of these songs! Have you ever wondered what the donkey thought when he carried Mary, the mother of Jesus? That song is in the NT album. We sing it every year when we act out the Nativity on Christmas Eve.
8. US History Songs by Larry Troxel. You will learn dates and the description of historical events with these songs, like when the Pilgrims came in the Mayflower, the settling of Jamestown, the U.S. Revolutionary War, the War of Northern Aggression, the Great Depression, the World Wars, and more. Go here to scroll down and see the dates and hear samples of the songs. You can also buy the book and CD from there as well.
9. Mathusee Skip Count Songs. These cover the same topic as Janeen Brady’s Time to Times: the multiplication tables. Janeen’s are more musical, definitely, but these are still fun. When I asked my 23 year old what songs to blog about, he insisted I include the Mathusee songs. I love that they have a religious version that uses Bible stories. At least it used to be available to buy, 20 plus years ago, I can’t find it now. You can listen to the secular version here.
10. Paola Brown’s Teach Me Health and Homeopathy Songs, written by Paola Brown and Jayna Ray. I’ve been listening to these songs a lot lately as I’ve been teaching the Teach Me Health and Homeopathy course for children in Zoom and to my own children. I also use them for the Homeopathy for Moms Book Club. I love these songs! They help me remember what homeopathic remedies go with what symptoms. Because of these songs, I’ll always remember that belladonna is for “symptoms that are red, hot, angry, and throbbing” and “a sudden high fever of 103 or more,” and staphysagria is for “slow healing of knife-like cuts, honeymoon cystitis, symptoms of suppressed anger.. ” Sample here and buy the CD or get the digital version in iTunes.
Bonus Resources: Songs I Haven’t Used Nearly as Much or Not At All But They Look Promising
Schoolhouse Rock was a staple of my ’70s childhood. Just search it up if you’re too young and don’t know what I’m talking about. The songs are about grammar, history, and government mostly, as I recall. “I’m just a bill, just an ordinary bill, and I got as far as Capitol Hill…”
My homeschooling friend Camille McCausland wrote Musical Notebooks, to teach the planets, the days of the week, the months of the year, the bones of the body, money value of U.S. coins, and more. Many of these are the same topics as in Singin’ Smart. We got these later than the Singin’ Smart volumes and just didn’t play them as often but they are fun too. Sample here and buy here.
Years ago I got the Lyrical Life Science book and CD of songs, in “used condition” at some homeschooler’s yard sale. I maybe played the CD once, which surprises me, because I love biology, and then it got buried with two moves since then. The songs are here in YouTube.
Kathy Troxel has some Grammer Songs here. She helped create the Geography Songs above so they’re probably just as great. She also has math songs.
Classical Conversations has many songs to teach about science, history, grammar, Latin nouns, and more. I haven’t ever used these songs but I’d like to.
Happy singing everybody! You remember what you sing, especially if you sing it often!