Lesson Plan Title : Americans and Their Music

Age Range: Grade 6 through Grade 8 (Middle School)

Overview and Purpose: Where were you when you first heard your favorite song? Music can often spark a memory. It also changes with the times. In this lesson, students will explore the differences between musical eras and what elements may have brought about the changes in what we listen to today.

Objective: The student will be able to

*describe the defining music genres of the past six decades.

*understand how songwriters used lyrics to define the times.


CD's with music from the past six decades

Internet access for students

Lyrics of a song from each decade


Have music from the 1950's playing in the classroom when the students come in. Explain that the lyrics of popular music of a decade usually reflect the current events or feelings in the country at that time. Have students look at the lyrics for some of the songs that were hits back then. How did they reflect the culture? (i.e. teenagers were starting to be more independent and rebellious.)

Continue this discussion up through the current decade. Chart the information on a whiteboard for the students. After the discussion ask them to write a page about which decade they would like to know more about (based on the music) and to hypothesize what the next decade's music will say about their generation.

Wrap Up:

Students may enjoy being given the artistic freedom to create a song, a rap, or a parody about the era of their choice. They will need to mention various facts about the current and/or historical events of that time, popular celebrities, fashion, economy, who was president, what life was like in general, etc. Let them have fun with it.