By far one of my favorite is a 5th grade lesson where we use the song, "All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles to talk breifly about the band, how they were received in the United States when they first came to visit (February 7th, 1964), how this song was really written to protest the Vietnam War, etc. Musically, by studying "All You Need Is Love," students get their first chance to discover and experience music that is in a mixed meter.
What is mixed meter? Well, normally in songs the beats are grouped in sets of 2, 3, or 4. So you might feel a piece of music as "1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4" or "1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3" and so on. In mixed meter, the groupings of beats changes. Changing the meter makes the music much more complicated. In "All You Need Is Love," the verse of the song goes "1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3." Just try to say that out loud, making the "one" have more emphasis than another beat. It's tricky, right?
Fifth graders learned a partner activity that they performed with rhythm sticks that goes along with the entire song. It's challenging, but a ton of fun. Plus the song is just so perfect for Valentine's Day. Love is all you need!