Thursday, 12 January 2017


‘When ancient opinions and rules of life are taken away, the loss cannot possibly be estimated. From that moment, we have no compass to govern us, nor can we know distinctly to what port to steer.’ ~ Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
Rules are the mark of any civilized society.

Children are not born knowing rules, they learn these by degrees - rules of the home, the family car, public transport, public places, sports grounds, places of worship, and so on.

School communities are no exception. School and classroom rules exist to ensure harmony for all, serving as a reminder that, among other things, teachers have a right to teach and students have a right to learn - in a happy, safe, and secure environment.

When it comes to protecting the rights of the members belonging to these learning communities, the rules and responsibilities, as well as the consequences for not adhering to these, need to be clearly stated, understood and respected.

(Part of the chorus lyrics from 'Our Class Rules ~ OK!' song)

Children learn in many different ways – I’m a huge fan of helping them to learn through song - if it can be learned, it can be sung, and vice versa.

Music is not only highly effective for motivating and engaging young learners, but, because it activates different parts of the brain, it is also invaluable for aiding recall - ensuring that lyrical content will have more chance of being remembered.

With that in mind, I wrote some basic classroom rules and behaviours, in lyrical form, which, together with colleague, Kathryn Radloff's, catchy melody, help students to learn, remember, and take responsibility for classroom rules and behaviours – through the enjoyable medium of song.

I, myself, use ‘Our Class Rules ~ OK!’ in schools, to establish and reinforce classroom practices, and my daughter, TNT (The New Teacher) reports using the song throughout the school day, as a handy point of reference.

TNT tells me that she has only to mention a line from the song, and students are reminded of correct/safe classroom behaviour and practices (e.g. chair legs on floor; hands up in the air; point scissors to the ground…).

Sometimes, a quizzical look in their direction is all it takes, for students to remember the rule – enabling them to take personal responsibility for their own safety and that of others within the classroom.


Below, you will find sample song lyrics and a few tips and suggestions for using this, or any other song about classroom rules: 

Sample Lyrics:

We have rules and responsibilities,
To keep us safe and happy
And we take these very seriously,
We care for everybody!

Verse 2
Put –
Hands up in the air,
If we have something to share,
Knowing it’s the right way;
Try to be polite,
Try to never fuss or fight
And then we’ll have a good day.
©Lyrics, Nuala O’Hanlon / Music, Kathryn Radloff
Keystone Creations ~ Educational Songs
'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

                                                                                                  Image Source:

Suggested Activities:

  • Discuss why rules are important (if we don’t follow rules, there are consequences, for ourselves and others
  • Discuss the need to feel safe and happy – what can we do to ensure this happens/we all have the right to… but we also have a personal responsibilities. 
  • Talk about good choices /not so good – consequences of both and the need for accountability
  • Brainstorm ways in which we can show we care and respect
  • Listen to song and list rules mentioned
  • Unpack/discuss lyrics, line by line, e.g:
  • Why do we have rules and responsibilities?
  • What does ‘rule’/ ‘responsibility’ mean?
Verse 2: Lines 1 & 2: 
  • Why do you think it is important to raise hands if we want to speak?
  • Identify and record rules mentioned in song
  • Brainstorm other class rules to add to list and continue to add as term progresses
  • Display rules around the room and refer to them often (use these for performance – see below)
  • Create a chart of class RULES / RESPONSIBILITIES / display these in classroom
  • Each student chooses a rule to be used to caption illustration (ref. ART, below)
  • Research rules for various communities/institutions and compare similarities/differences, e.g. home; school;  sport clubs; public transport, etc.
  • Discuss the reasons for these various rules
  • Create a class graph, recording different groups to which the students belong (students write out rules of these groups, giving reasons these are important)
  • Students illustrate/paint their chosen rule (see above
Create cartoons with speech bubbles, illustrating consequences of breaking rules, e.g. student falling off chair, after leaning too far back

  • Display students’ artwork (see above) around stage, and dramatize the song, pointing to the words: *RULES *RESPONSIBILITIES, during each chorus

Yours in Singing to Learn,

Nuala O'Hanlon
Teacher; Director,
'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

A Review: ‘In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.’ ~ Brendan Hitchens, teacher: Music In Action, A Magazine for Educators

**FYI: Our curriculum-aligned teaching teaching resources are available as:
**Blog Learning Content: 
©Nuala O’Hanlon & Kathryn Radloff

'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

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