Down by the Bay | Free Music Lesson Plan (Composing)

from the Lesson Zone

Unlock the creativity of your music students by asking them to create their own verses to 'Down by the Bay' and illustrate these ideas to understand the relationship between music and art.


Grade K-1


Students will create additional verses to 'Down by the Bay' and add their own visual art (drawings) to encourage creativity and understand the relationships between music and the other arts. Students may also accompany the song by playing chords on melody bells. This lesson is designed to fulfill Standard #4 of the National Standards for Music: Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines and Standard #8: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.


Down by the Bay | Lead Sheet (Music, Lyrics, Chords)
Paper or Drawing App for iPad
Melody Bells (Extension)

'Down by the Bay' Music Lesson Plan

Step 1
Ask students, "Who is ready to be a composer and artist? Today we will be creating new verses to the song Down by the Bay. Before we do that, let's make sure everyone knows the song.

Step 2
Teach the song Down by the Bay by singing each phrase, phrase by phrase, asking the students to echo your performance. In performing the song, continue the echo pattern until "Did you ever see a bear combing his hair?" On this phrase the teacher sings the question and the class answers with "Down by the bay."

Step 3
Continue singing additional verses in the same way.

Step 4
Ask students to recall the animals mentioned in the song, and the words that rhymes with each animal (bear-hair, bee-knee, moose-goose, whale-tail). Ask students, either in groups or individually, to create additional verses to the song.

Step 5
Sing the song again with new student created verses.

Step 6
Using paper, or electronic drawing app such as Draw Something ( iPad/iPhone/Android), ask students to draw pictures of the animals in the verses they created, and then write the sentence below the picture.

Using melody bells, ask students to accompany the song. The chord progression can be taught to the students by patting for the tonic chord (G), clapping for the dominant chord (D7), and snapping for the subdominant chord (C). Students can either add melody bells for the entire song or just the last phrase, "Down by the Bay."

Down by the bay,

Where the watermelons grow,

Back to my home,

I dare not go,

For if I do,

My mother will say,

"Did you ever see a bear,

Combing his hair,

Down by the bay?"

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