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Writing a Class Rap – What an Adventure!

We wrote a class rap about Lewis and Clark.

Yes, you heard me right – a class rap.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the best ways to engage your students is by incorporating your hobbies or passions into your lessons.

One of my hobbies is music and song writing, so I thought it would be a cool idea to try and take what we’ve been learning and write a rap as a class. I did this last year for the first time, and it worked out pretty good. I learned a lot from that first experiment, and this year it went a little better. Here’s what I did:

1. I set up a Word document on my computer with the beginning lines of the rap:

I’m going to tell you a story so listen
You’ll learn about the Lewis and Clark expedition
They had a mission
To go and explore

2. I project the document onto the screen at the front of the room using my LCD projector.

3. I have the students pull out a sheet of paper and write down that first part. This is key. I learned the hard way that you needed the students writing this down or else they will quickly lose focus and start socializing. I have enough trouble with my 8th graders doing this anyway, but with this non-structured activity, it’s even more likely.

4. I choose a student who types fast and who is a good speller, and sit her/him at my desk in front of the computer.

5. I then explain what we’re doing to the class. I tell them that we are going to write a rap about what we are studying. They’re going to need to have their notes out and they’re going to have to write everything down that’s on the screen. I also tell them that they should use a pencil, because we’re probably going to have to erase a lot.

6. That’s when I read the first part of the rap to them. I try and read it as if a person was saying it in a rap.

7. I then open it up for suggestions for a line that rhymes with the word “explore.” Here is another key item. You have to use words that are easy to rhyme. The students will suggest lines that are really creative, but have a last word that doesn’t rhyme with anything, and you’ll be stuck. It does get loud, so if you’re not comfortable with a noisy class, this may not be the activity for you. You will also have to help them along a little. I’ll ask, “What words rhyme with ‘explore’?” They’ll shout out “door, floor, ignore, store, snore, adore, and someone will say, “shore.” That’s when I’ll say, “Shore! That’s a good one. What can we say that ends in ‘shore’?”

8. All the while, I’m telling the student at the computer to type our suggestions onto the screen. The students copy down the suggestions, and I continue.

9. We continue writing stanzas from our notes. Little by little the rap appears. When we complete a stanza, the students cheer. I have to shoot down some of the more nonsense suggestions, but I do it in a nice way: “That’s good, but it may be just too deep for this rap.”

10. I go back every now and then and read the rap from the top, so we can remember what we’ve already written.

11. Finally, after about 30 minutes of shouting and laughing and redirecting, we come up with a finished rap.

I like this activity, because the students are studying their notes in a fun, interactive way, and since I like lyric writing, I’m enjoying the process which comes through to the class.

This time, I found that one of my most disengaged students was totally into this activity and actually contributed one of the stanzas. That was pretty cool.

What I did for this post was take the best stanzas from the four raps that we created ( I have four different groups of students), and combined them into one long rap. I was pretty impressed with the outcome. Kids always have a way of surprising me. There was one group that I was a little hesitant about trying this activity with. I even had a back up lesson if they couldn’t handle it, but again, they proved me wrong and came up with one of the better raps.

I’m curious to know what you think about this lesson. Questions? Concerns? Let me know.

Here it is: The Lewis and Clark Rap

I’m going to tell you a story

So listen

We’ll learn about the

Lewis and Clark expedition

They had a mission

To go and explore

The Louisiana Territory

And much much more

Jefferson really wanted to know

How far the Missouri river would flow

So he asked two men,

Lewis and Clark

To place on history

America’s mark.

They started on their way

With about 45 guys

Who complained a lot

About the mosquitoes and flies

The Corps of Discovery

Was their name

They all hoped

For lots of riches and fame

There was a young Indian lady

Who came along

Her name was Sacagawea

And she made them strong

Before the journey

She became a mother

And later met

Her long lost brother

She helped with translation

Kept them from starvation

In tough situations

She was an inspiration

Sacagawea walked by their side

An Indian girl who became their guide

She helped with the food

Her determination

Helped them to reach

Their final destination

Some two years later

After exploring the west

They arrived back home

With more hair on their chest

All but York

Got money, land, and fame

The Corps of Discovery

We’ll never forget their name


  1. Krista Cannon's Gravatar Krista Cannon
    June 18, 2012    

    I love this lesson; I would like to include it in our grade level plans and also pin it on my Pinterest board for educational resources. Would both of these be permissable?
    Thank you!
    K. Cannon

    • Sam's Gravatar Sam
      June 18, 2012    

      Hello Krista,
      I’m glad you liked the post. This was a lot of fun for the kids and for myself. Feel free to use it at your school. Thank you for the comment.

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