85 Positive Songs for Teachers to Use in the Classroom

earpodsI’m a music fanatic, and I love having a song playing as the students enter the classroom. The right song helps students to come into class feeling good about life and ready to learn.

An opening song is also a great signal device to start class. I usually have an entry task on the overhead, and my students know that it needs to be completed by the time the song ends.

Here’s my current list of the positive songs I use:

(The first thing you need to know is that my absolute favorite song of all time is “Over the Rainbow,” so I play that song quite a bit. I have over sixty covers of the song, from country to alternative to dance remix versions, and everything in between.)

[Update: Click on songs to listen to samples or to buy from Amazon.com]

All American Rejects, “Move Along

Bachman Turner Overdrive, “Takin’ Care of Business

The Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations

The Beatles

Natasha Bedingfield, “Unwritten

Chris Cagle, “What a Beautiful Day

Chicago, “25 or 6 to 4

Petula Clark, “Downtown


Sheryl Crow, “Soak Up the Sun

Hilary Duff, “Shine

Electric Light Orchestra

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Gloria Estefan, “Get on Your Feet

Five for Fighting

Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop

John Fogerty, “Sugar Sugar

The Go-Gos, “We Got the Beat

Goo Goo Dolls, “Better Days

Green Day, “Time of Your Life

Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Linus and Lucy

High School Musical

Enrique Iglesias, “Hero

Jars of Clay

Jimmy Eat World, “The Middle

Joe Jackson, “Steppin’ Out

Katrina and the Waves, “Walking on Sunshine

Mat Kearney, “Nothing Left to Lose

Kool and the Gang, “Celebration

Kenny Loggins, “I’m All Right

Martina McBride, “This One’s for the Girls

Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dyin’

Jo Dee Messina, “Dare to Dream

Hannah Montana

Randy Newman, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me

Nichole Nordeman, “Legacy

Tom Petty

Dan Powter, “Bad Day

The Pretenders, “I’ll Stand by You

Rascall Flatts, “Life Is a Highway

Relient K, “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been

Sister Sledge, “We Are Family

Sly and the Family Stone, “Everyday People

Smash Mouth, “All Star

Starship, “We Built This City

The Stray Cats, “Rock This Town

Survivor, “Eye of the Tiger


Train, “When I Look to the Sky

The Turtles, “Happy Together


Van Halen

Jaci Velasquez, “We Can Make a Difference

The Wailin’ Jennys, “One Voice

John Williams

Steve Winwood, “While You See a Chance

Lee Ann Womack, “I Hope You Dance

Weird Al Yankovic

Other Soundtrack Music

Now that you’ve seen my list, tell me your opinion or add your own favorites by leaving a comment below.

62 Responses

  1. KJ says:

    Great list!
    I love all the songs you mentioned. Here are some more that my nephews love.

    wonderful world
    you’ve got a friend
    stand by me
    my wish-rascal fatts
    blessed-martina mcbride
    lean on me
    from a distance-bette midler

  2. alex says:

    “Put it there” – Paul McCartney

    .. a great song for your list

  3. L says:

    Here are some more songs with positive messages:

    Where Is The Love -Black Eyed Peas
    Work It Out -Jurassic Five
    Golden -Jill Scott
    Everything Is Everything -Lauryn Hill
    Appletree -Erykah Badu
    Video -India.Arie
    You Gotta Be – Des’ree
    Waterfalls -TLC
    Sowing The Seeds Of Love -Tears For Fears
    People Are People -Depeche Mode
    Independence Day -Elliott Smith

  4. meg says:

    18 wheeler —pink

  5. Nick says:

    Keep those song ideas coming! Thanks for the great suggestions.

  6. Elaine says:

    How about… (hope I’m not repeating)

    Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
    Good Morning Starshine – Oliver
    Don’t you Worry Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder
    Birdhouse in Your Soul – durn..who are those two guys?
    Secret o’ Life – James Taylor
    Girls Just Want to have Fun – Cindy Lauper
    I’t a Beautiful Morning – ?
    Help – Beatles
    Baby You Can Drive my Car – Beatles

  7. Elaine says:

    It’s a Beautiful Morning – is from The Rascals

  8. Joe Kizonyu says:

    Thanks for the help, I’ve been compiling a list of my own.

    Got a couple more suggestions. These ones are rock:

    Rule the World – Take That
    Alive – POD
    Not Broken – Hurst
    Be Yourself – Audioslave
    Imprint – Doubledrive
    Believe – Yellowcard
    Fully Alive – Flyleaf
    Good Times – Finger 11
    I Love Myself Today – Bif Naked
    Stand in the Spotlight – Armor For Sleep
    Brand New Day – Rhymes With Orange

    For R&B I’ve found India Arie is a great source. Try:
    I Choose
    Better People
    There’s Hope

    Some soft rock suggestions are:
    Forgiveness – Collective Soul
    Let Go – Adema
    Don’t Stop Dancing – Creed
    Don’t Panic – Coldplay

    And Finally some Easy Listening:
    Smile – Madeleine Peyroux
    This Is Heaven To Me – Madeleine Peyroux
    The Best Is Yet To Come – Michael Buble

    Happy Listening

  9. I can’t think of any more songs, but I thought I’d share what your list has inspired me to do.

    I am turning these songs into “bellringer/Daily Oral Language” exercise on power point. I love the idea of playing some positive music as my 11th grade students come into class. Yet I must be efficient with 48 minute class periods. So, each slide has a title, artist, a little known fact, a few graphics, and a couple of sentences about what the song is about. Only those sentences are a grammatical nightmare! The first few minutes of class they listen, laugh, and learn a bit of grammar while I tend to management issues. I just wish I had enough slides for every day. For now, I’ll use this activity twice a week until I can build my database. I will share the ppt on my class wiki closer to school starting. If anyone wants to team up and share these before the fall, email me at jbarnett@tcboe.org. I’m up for some collaboration on this!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Johnny says:

    Here’s a good list I use in my class:
    1) I can’t fight this feeling – REO Speedwagon
    2) People Are People -Depeche Mode
    3) Freewill – Rush
    4) The World I Know – Collective Soul
    5) Let it Be – Beatles
    6) Video – India Arie
    7) You’ve Got a Friend – James Taylor
    8) Walkin’ on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
    9) Don’t Laugh at Me – Mark Wills
    10) Waiting on the World to Change – John Mayer
    11) Larger Bowl – Rush
    12) These Are the Days – 10000 Maniacs
    13) The Change – Garth Brooks
    14) Peace Train – Cat Stevens
    15) Time of Your Life – Green Day
    16) Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
    17) You Can Still Be Free – Savage Garden
    18) Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Ashford & Simpson
    19) Blackbird – Beatles
    20) Put On a Happy Face – Bye Bye Birdie
    21) Morning Has Broken – Cat Stevens
    22) Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
    23) Winds of Change – Cinderella
    24) Spend My Time – Clint Black
    25) One Tin Soldier – Coven
    26) Teach Your Children – CSNY
    27) True Colours – Cyndi Lauper
    28) What You Are – Dave Matthews Band
    29) Survivor – Destiny’s Child
    30) Spirit in the Sky – Doctor and the Medics
    31) What I Am – Edie Brickell
    32) Hold on Tight to Your Dreams – ELO
    33) Answer in the Sky – Elton John
    34) How Can I Keep from Singing – Enya
    35) One Thing – Finger Eleven
    36) 100 years – Five for Fighting
    37) Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters
    38) Times Like These – Foo Fighters
    39) I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
    40) Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls
    41) Lonely People – Jars of Clay
    42) Imagine – John Lennon
    43) Believe – Lenny Kravitz
    44) Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
    45) Broken Wings – Mr. Mister
    46) Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.
    47) Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
    48) This One’s For the Girls – Martina McBride
    49) We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister
    50) Move Along – All American Rejects
    51) Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield
    52) Soak Up the Sun – Sheryl Crow
    53) We’re All in This Together – High School Musical
    54) I’m All Right – Kenny Loggins
    55) Dare to Dream – Jo Dee Messina
    56) You’ve Got a Friend in Me – Randy Newman
    57) Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been – Relient K
    58) We Are Family – Sister Sledge
    59) Everyday People – Sly and the Family Stone
    60) Where Is The Love -Black Eyed Peas
    61) Golden -Jill Scott
    62) Everything Is Everything -Lauryn Hill
    63) Appletree -Erykah Badu
    64) You Gotta Be – Des’ree
    65) Waterfalls –TLC
    66) Sowing The Seeds Of Love -Tears For Fears
    67) Independence Day -Elliott Smith
    68) “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” by Simon & Garfunkel
    69) “I Can See Clearly Now” – Johnny Nash
    70) “Simple Man” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
    71) “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”
    72) “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” – Ella Fitzgerald
    73) “All You Need Is Love” – The Beatles
    74) “What A Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
    75) “Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley
    76) “When you’re smiling” – Frank Sinatra and/or Dean Martin
    77) Believe – Josh Groban
    78) You Are Loved – Josh Groban
    79) I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2
    80) Peace on Earth – U2

  11. Nick says:

    I’d like to thank all of you for adding to this list. In order to make it easier to sample the songs and purchase them (which also supports this site), I have linked my original list to Amazon.com. Those without links are not yet available through Amazon. Thanks again!

  12. Barb S. says:

    Thanks so much! I needed to find some songs to inspire & accentuate the positive for our staff, as we have merged into a new, huge new school district! I’ll also compile a cd to keep my 6th graders motivated all year long!
    You ROCK!

  13. April says:

    On Top of The World-Mandy Moore
    Upside Down-Jack Johnson
    I can see Clearly now- Johnny Nash

  14. Mr. P says:

    I like the song, “Yes you can,” by Donnie McClurkin. Good positive message.

  15. Jeff Clark says:

    I have two videos that you can you use in the classroom and they are saving me by Nickleback which talks about a burden of a person to pass on the gift of seeing when people are going to die and then save a person and pass on the gift to them. The other is if everyone cared by Nickleback and how one person can make a difference in the lives of others. This is also a video

  16. mayra says:

    Here are some otehrs that are really good and from the present times with good messages if you listen closly 🙂 =
    1. all around me- flyleaf
    2. i can-nas
    3. meant to live- switchfoot
    4. never be the same-red
    5. child of eden-joy williams
    6. Silence- joy williams
    7. never alone-barlowgirls
    8. i need you to love me-barlowgirls
    9. million voices- barlowgirls
    10. dont worry now- britt nicole
    11. set the world on fire- britt nicole
    12.ready- britt nicole
    13. livin dream-grits
    14. one day-zoegirls
    15. even if-zoegirls
    16. feel alright-zoegirls
    17. never going back to ok-the afters
    18. as i rise again- dj alex or dream trance
    19.make em lean- lil prophet
    20.made to love-tobymac
    21.bring me to life-evanescence
    22. lose my soul-tobymac
    23. one world-tobymac
    24.my immortal-evanescence
    25.umbrella- the rubyz
    26. stand and scream- krystal meyers
    27.good behavior-plumb
    and much more!!!!! enjoy it i hope :))

  17. Lucille Wright says:

    What a great list! I didn’t see this one though –
    Proud – Heather Small, M People

  18. Meagan says:

    My classes current favorite is ‘The World’s Greatest’ by R. Kelley. I know that he is a little strange, but the song has such a positive message to it!

  19. Stephen says:

    Everyone leaves this one out:


    O-o-h Child, by the Five Stairsteps

  20. Kathryn says:

    Beautiful UR – Deborah Cox
    This is my now – Jordan Sparks
    One Step at a Time – Jordan Sparks
    You’re not alone – Shaye

  21. Rusty says:

    I’m always looking for new positive songs to perform.
    I love this list. I can certainly learn some of these and adapt them to my acoustic guitar style.

    I didn’t see
    I Won’t Back Down, by Tom Petty.


  22. Danielle Solan says:

    Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Jackie De Shannon

    Can’t Buy Me Love, the Beatles

    With a Little Help from My Friends, the Beatles

    Lean on Me, Bill Withers

  23. Keishla says:

    Anything early Motown is good:

    Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Supremes

  24. Kailah says:

    Life is Wonderful,Mr. Curiosity, Bella Luna, The Remedy(i won’t worry), Live High, I’m yours, Only Human- all of these songs by Jason Mraz

  25. Karen says:

    I love all these suggestions. I teach kindergarten and we do lots of cute kid songs. I was looking for songs like these to signify different activities, transitions etc. Are there any elementary teachers on here who use these songs like that? I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for which ones would be good to signify-
    lunch, Math,Science, Social St, Reading, Writing, recess, rest time, restroom etc- just trying different things this year. Thanks

  26. Carol Clemons says:

    I like R Kelly’s “I am the
    Greatest” and Carrie Underwood’s “Play On”

  27. Nicole says:

    You can use Stevie Wonder’s “I just called to say I love you”, to teach your elementary kids about the seasons. I used it and it worked really well!

  28. Kriss says:

    I teach third grade and I teach them the songs We are Going to be Friends ( for our Friendship unit)By The White Stripes and by Jack Johnson. My kids also love the song Looking out my Back Door by Creedence Cleareater Revival (for our Imagination unit).

  29. Timmie Lee says:

    I love this list! Personally, a couple of my favorites are Change Your Mind by Sister Hazel and Don’t Look Back by Boston. Thank you for this list!

  30. Thanks for the list and the comments!

    Our list is nearing 500 Positive Songs!

    From My Positive Music Radio

  31. Kathy O says:

    I absolutely love this thread. As the demographics change at my school site, I feel the need to motivate my students. Some songs I would add are:
    “Keep Holding On” (Avril Lavigne or Glee Cast);
    “Who Says” (Selena Gomez);
    “Sing” (My Chemical Romance);
    “Loser Like Me” (Glee Cast);
    “This Is Me” (Demi Lovato);
    “Make it Shine” (Victorious Cast);
    “Perfect Day” (Hoku);
    “Kids in America” (Kim Wilde);
    & Any Song from Music Inspired by Stuart Little 2.

  32. Cindy says:

    This is an incredible list. I am looking for positive songs for an end of fourth grade dvd. Wow. thanks.

  33. Debra says:

    I’d like some positive hip-hop for primary — intermediate. Great lists!

  34. Kara says:

    One Day by Matisyahu

    Say and Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer

    The Show Goes On – Lupe Fiasco

    Send me on my way -Rusted Root

  35. Hannah says:

    Here are some other songs:
    “Beautiful” Christina Aguilera
    “Born This Way” Lady Gaga
    “Perfect” Pink
    “Put Your Records On” Corrine Bailey Rae

  36. Kroz says:

    A few more for your list:
    Get What You Give – New Radicals
    Can You Feel It Tonight? – One Night Only
    Rock the Casbah – The Clash
    Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds
    Jump – Van Halen
    Firework – Katy Perry
    Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars
    Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough – Michael Jackosn

  37. Kara says:

    Sorry if some of these are duplicates and thanks for all the suggestions

    – Unwritten – natasha Bedingfield
    – Soak up the Sun – Sheryl Crow
    – The Riddle – five for fighting
    – 100 years – five for fighting
    – Live Like you were dying – time mcgraw
    – Bad Day – Daniel Powder
    – All Star – Smash Mouth
    – What if it all goes right – nashville star melissa lawson
    – when i look to the sky – train
    – i’ll stand by you – carrie underwood
    – stand – rascal flatts
    – stand back up – sugarland
    -standing outside the first – garth brooks
    – unanswered prayers – garth brooks
    – we shall be free – garth brooks
    – the dance – garth brooks
    – my wish – rascal flatts
    – where is the love – black eyed peas
    – man i nthe mirror – michael jackson
    – change the world – eric clapton?
    – the best is yet to come – nancy wilson
    – Let it be – the beatles
    – ain’t no mountain high enough – marvin gaye
    – fighter – christina aguilera
    – stay beautiful – taylor swift
    – closer to fine – indigo girls
    – you raise me up – josh groban
    – you give me hope – between the trees
    – better things – dar williams
    – weightless – all time low (one vulgarity)
    – don’t you know you’re beautiful – kelli pickler

    thats it for now but i’m sure my brain will keep turning

  38. Sara says:

    Well, all these are the great, great, great list of songs which I can use in the classroom! Thanks to all who have listed the songs 🙂

  39. Phyllis says:

    This is awesome!!!
    I would also love some in other languages especially Spanish that are positive and school appropriate. I want to make a play list for our next school carnival and although I know what I like I am not always sure I understand the lyrics well enough since Spanish is my third language.
    I am thinking:
    Maria, Ricky Martin
    La Copa de la Vida, Ricky Martin
    La Puerta Negra, Los Tigres del Norte
    What might be appropriate from Elvis Crespo or Selena or ? ?
    Thanks to any suggestions!

  40. Shauna says:

    Add these to your list (my class loved!):

    You Can Count on Me by Bruno Mars

    Keep Your Head Up by Andy Grammer

  41. Jesska says:

    Who you are- Jessie J

  42. Steve B N says:

    My additions are;
    Days Like These – Asia
    An Extraordinary Life – Asia
    When The Heart Rules The Mind – GTR
    Holy Lamb – Yes
    Ride The Wild Wind – Queen
    Fight The Good Fight – Triumph
    It’s Gonna Get Better – Genesis
    Be Good To Yourself – Journey
    I see that Van Halen’s Dreams and Right Now have already been mentioned.

  43. Jeanette says:

    Awesome list! I was looking for songs to use during transition times from group work. This is an impressive list. Now … I just have to figure out how to cut bits out of them and make them easily and quickly accessible (in all my spare time). :o)

  44. Chelsea says:

    awesome, thanks – i run rehabilitation groups with offenders and this list provides a huge amount of songs to choose from … with no swear words, lyrics are familiar and songs that are not loaded with cheese (or too obviously pro social).

  45. Steve B N says:

    I’m back! Here are 5 more suggestions;
    Hold On Tight – ELO
    The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) – Simon & Garfunkel
    Gone At Last – Paul Simon
    New Song 99 – Howard Jones (modern version 1999)
    Doing What I Can – Lindsey Buckingham
    I will keep looking and post again.

  46. Michelle says:

    Love, love, love this compiled list. Teaching 7th grade LA this year and the kids keep asking me for rap. Any clean, positive suggestions???

    Also I suggest Smile – uncle Kracker
    Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

  47. Sabrina says:

    I love this list. However, is it censored? I teach 5th grade and want to make sure songs do not have inappropriate lyrics or bad words.

  48. Steve B N says:

    I suggest listening carefully to the words of;
    (1) Change For The Better
    (2) What It Takes To Win
    Both are from disc 1 of the 2008 Journey double-album called Revolution. Arnel Pineda is singing.

  49. Steve B N says:

    There are positive Hip-Hop songs on the collections called Hip-Hope and Holy Hip Hop. They are Christian based. I don’t have any song titles to quote.

  1. August 6, 2008

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