Did you know that music can be beneficial for students of all ages? A catchy song can improve moods while helping kids learn and retain new information.
How can you choose appropriate songs for your classroom, school hallways, or assembly? This list has you covered with all the school-appropriate songs your school needs to make learning a little more fun.
- What Do I Know? – Ed Sheeran
- Better When I’m Dancin’ – Meghan Trainor
- The Sound of Sunshine – Michael Franti and Spearhead
- Save Your Tears – The Weeknd and Ariana Grande
- This is What You Came For – Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna
- Born This Way – Lady Gaga
- Riptide – Vance Joy
- Treat People with Kindness – Harry Styles
- Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
- Counting Stars – One Republic
- Happy – Pharrell Williams
- Permission to Dance – BTS
- Levitating – Dua Lipa ft. Da Baby
- Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
- Count on Me – Bruno Mars
- Three Little Birds – Bob Marley & The Wailers
- Old Town Road – Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
- Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson
- Mean – Taylor Swift
- Firework – Katy Perry
- Fight Song – Rachel Platten
- Fireflies – Owl City
- I Like to Move It – will.i.am
- Brand New Day – Lindsey Ray and Tim Myers
- Heat Waves – Glass Animals
- Pompeii – Bastille
- Be OK – Ingrid Michaelson
- My Universe – Coldplay and BTS
- Meant to Be – Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line
- Africa – Toto
- A-Punk – Vampire Weekend
- Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers and Coldplay
- Try Everything – Shakira
- Canned Heat – Jamiroquai
- MMMBop – Hanson
- Good Feeling – Flo Rida
- Take on Me – A-ha
- On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons
- Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
- Ok Ok – Hoko
- Cha Cha Slide – DJ Casper
What Do I Know? – Ed Sheeran
While Ed Sheeran partially focuses on the fact that he didn’t get a college education in this song, it also has an important message about peacefully changing the world. He wishes people would listen to his advice and look past their superficial judgments for a better world.
Related: Listen to more great songs about growth and change.
Better When I’m Dancin’ – Meghan Trainor
Meghan Trainor sings of finding confidence by having fun on the dance floor in this track. It’s a fun choice to get kids excited about school and help them feel better about themselves during those moments of low self-esteem. The song was written for The Peanuts Movie.
Related: Feeling down? Here are some songs about being insecure.
The Sound of Sunshine – Michael Franti and Spearhead
A health scare inspired this song after Michael Franti ruptured his appendix on tour. As the track demonstrates, Franti was grateful to survive and found a new appreciation for his existence and the people he loved. It’s a sunny track sure to brighten any student’s mood.
Related: This song features on our playlist of songs with sunshine in the lyrics.
Save Your Tears – The Weeknd and Ariana Grande
Here’s an international hit that finds The Weeknd regretting the pain he caused in a past relationship—possibly his real-life romance with Bella Hadid. He wishes he could have another chance but realizes it’s highly unlikely he’ll get one.
Related: Here are some more songs about giving love a second chance.
This is What You Came For – Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna
Two love interests meet on the dance floor in this energetic track. It will surely excite students of all ages for a day of learning and seeing peers at school. Taylor Swift co-wrote the track and even sang backing vocals.
Born This Way – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s definitive self-love anthem shows listeners that it is okay to be yourself because they were “born this way.” The song infuses different musical styles for an interesting result pleasing to the ears. It’s sure to get any student ready for school.
Related: Feel good with these songs about being you.
Riptide – Vance Joy
The title of this track came from a hotel that Vance Joy stayed at as a child during family trips. The ukelele music gives it a unique, stripped-back sound. The upbeat lyrics find Vance Joy meeting the woman of his dreams and telling listeners how wonderful she is in his eyes.
Related: Learn the ukulele Riptide chords so you can play this song yourself!
Treat People with Kindness – Harry Styles
‘Treat People with Kindness’ appears on Harry Styles’ second solo album. It shows kids —as well as listeners of all ages—how good it is to make others feel better, both for you and the other party. The song finds Styles and a love interest making good on the title’s advice.
Related: Check out these songs about being kind.
Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
This song is the lead single from the Trolls soundtrack; Justin Timberlake also voices the character Branch in the popular animated film. The lyrics tell a happy story of Timberlake feeling wonderful when his special someone is around. It’s such a fun song to dance to and is sure to be a hit at school.
Related: Listen to more fun prom night songs.
Counting Stars – One Republic
Counting Stars’ has disco beats that make it hard to resist. OneRepublic demonstrates to listeners that money isn’t the most important thing with the lyrics, saying that instead of counting money, “we’ll be counting stars.” It’s a catchy hit that can help kids understand the importance of dreams and happiness rather than money.
Related: Shine bright with these songs with stars in the lyrics.
Happy – Pharrell Williams
This was the most popular song of 2014 as a single from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. The song lives up to its title—Pharrell Williams sings about the joy and importance of being happy, repeating the title an impressive 56 times. Due to its animated film appearance, this is a great kid-friendly track to motivate students for school.
Related: Put a smile on your face with these songs about joy.
Permission to Dance – BTS
Here’s a BTS single that celebrates being yourself and enjoying your life. An instrumental version appears alongside the original on the 2021 four-track single album, Butter. The song’s uplifting sound helps to accentuate its main message for listeners of all ages.
Levitating – Dua Lipa ft. Da Baby
This song has a similar style to 1981’s ‘Rapture’ by Blondie. Dua Lipa sings of escaping with a special someone to outer space in its daydreamy lyrics. It highlights the otherworldly feeling that romance can evoke when you meet someone special.
Related: This song is on our list of the best pop songs.
Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
The origins of this song can be found in a real-life encounter that Walk the Moon lead singer Nicholas Petricca had with a woman he met on a night out. It’s about meeting someone special who helps you have fun on the dance floor and realize you might have met the perfect person for you. It’s a popular hit with music lovers of all ages that can help anyone feel excited about classes.
Related: Dance over to our playlist of the best songs for dancing.
Count on Me – Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars brings unexpected country vibes in this 2010 track. It talks about the importance of being there to help your friends in times of need since helping others through thick and thin is the point of friendship. It can teach students an important lesson about caring for loved ones.
Related: Grab your BFF and enjoy these songs for besties.
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley & The Wailers
Bob Marley encourages listeners to stay optimistic and stop worrying in this uplifting classic inspired by real birds from Marley’s life. The song has seen numerous cover versions and pop culture appearances since its release in 1977. It’s sure to be an instant favorite for any student needing a mood boost.
Related: Fly away with the best songs about a bird.
Old Town Road – Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
This is one of the earliest tracks to find fame due to TikTok popularity. It finds Lil Nas X tired of love and possessions after a breakup, fantasizing about giving it all up to become a cowboy. Besides its widespread appeal, this is a great song for students as it shows them that there’s more to life than materialism.
Related: Enjoy the best line dancing songs with a group of friends!
Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson sings of the fear and excitement that comes with growing up and having new experiences with this track. It can help students feel more adventurous and less afraid of change and growing up. While the song became the title of Clarkson’s second album, the song was intended for Avril Lavigne, who wrote the lyrics.
Related: See our list of good songs for graduation.
Mean – Taylor Swift
While Taylor Swift was inspired by her own detractors when writing this song, it speaks to anyone who has dealt with critics or bullies in life. It allows listeners to realize that there’s still hope when others are being hurtful and points out that the cruel people have a problem, not their victims.
Related: Find this song on our playlist of songs by Taylor Swift.
Firework – Katy Perry
With this motivating and inspirational hit, Katy Perry encourages the most downtrodden of listeners to have faith and believe in themselves. Most of Perry’s original vocals from her demo recording were used in the final track. It was partially inspired by a conversation with her then-fianceé, Russell Brand.
Related: Go to our list of feel-good songs.
Fight Song – Rachel Platten
Here’s an empowering track about believing in yourself and life, even in the face of disappointment. Rachel Platten was inspired to write the song after a decade of working in the music industry with little success; ironically, this became her first hit. It is a real-life success story that can show students that they shouldn’t give up, no matter how frustrated they get.
Related: Find inner strength with these songs about being powerful.
Fireflies – Owl City
This song was inspired by a camping trip where Adam Young daydreamed of stars being a giant swarm of “ten million fireflies.” This was Owl City’s first single and an international hit. It’s also kid-friendly and presents a fun idea for even the youngest students to dream about.
Related: Hear more of the best figurative language songs.
I Like to Move It – will.i.am
Here’s a simple dance-focused track about loving to dance at a party or on a dance floor. It was featured in the film Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in 2008, making it a family-friendly hit that’s perfect for school. It is based on a song of the same name by Reel 2 Real.
Brand New Day – Lindsey Ray and Tim Myers
Lindsey Ray sings of the happiness that comes with living simply and enjoying each new day in this track. It shows listeners that remaining positive and appreciating the little things in life can go a long way toward providing one with a happier and fuller life.
Heat Waves – Glass Animals
This track from Glass Animals finds its protagonist realizing he lost a love he can’t have back, no matter how much he desires. The song’s theme is based on a real experience from band leader Dave Bayley’s life; he lost someone he cared about that he still misses.
Related: Warm up with these songs about hot weather.
Pompeii – Bastille
‘Pompeii’ was Bastille’s first hit release. It references the downfall of the Roman city Pompeii, which was decimated by a volcano in 79 AD. While the song has dark origins, it has an overall upbeat sound and can provide an entertaining history lesson to students while keeping them interested in the school day.
Related: Learn something while you listen to the best songs about historical events.
Be OK – Ingrid Michaelson
Here’s a simple and upbeat track that finds Ingrid Michaelson wanting to feel and be okay in the present day. Its easy lyrics and energetic sound should be a hit with young listeners who understand the feeling of hoping you’ll have a good day.
My Universe – Coldplay and BTS
This song finds Coldplay and BTS singing about a love interest who is their “universe.” The song is sung in both English and Korean. It’s a great way to expose students to ideas of multiculturalism in a way that feels relevant to them and is age-appropriate.
Related: Here are the best songs about the universe.
Meant to Be – Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line
A male protagonist tells the female protagonist of this track that she shouldn’t worry about the future or her life. She can’t control fate, and the two of them will be okay no matter what as long as they stick together. The song is led by its piano rhythms for a sound that listeners of all ages can appreciate.
Related: Is it fate you found the best songs about destiny?
Africa – Toto
The narrator must choose between the continent he loves and the woman he loves. When writing the song, David Paich was inspired by a documentary about Africa, but he had never been to the continent himself. This is an atmospheric and adventurous song that students can appreciate.
Related: Go somewhere new with these songs about adventures.
A-Punk – Vampire Weekend
This unusual song seems to tell the story of Johanna, who appears to have faced loss in her life. This song was the first exposure that United States audiences had to Vampire Weekend; they performed it live on Late Show with David Letterman in 2008. It’s a good chance to safely expose students to a different type of song.
Related: This song made it to our list of the top 2000s songs.
Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers and Coldplay
Chris Martin wishes to be like a mythical superhero in this track, particularly in his romantic partner’s eyes. However, this woman makes it clear that she likes him as he is and just wants a loving relationship, not a perfect one. This track teaches an important lesson regarding the impossible standards we sometimes expect—especially from ourselves.
Related: Who’s your hero? Check out these songs of heroism.
Try Everything – Shakira
‘Try Everything’ served as the theme for Disney’s film Zootopia in 2016. Sia and Stargate wrote this track together. Shakira also played the role of a pop star in the film. This is a very kid-friendly track that encourages listeners to try new things.
Related: Enjoy more famous Disney songs.
Canned Heat – Jamiroquai
Canned heat, in the context of this song, is a substance that can give one the urge to dance if administered on one’s heels. The song was Jamiroquai’s second chart hit and returned to the public limelight in 2014 due to a viral video clip.
MMMBop – Hanson
Hanson takes a serious approach in this deceptively sunny-sounding track. The brothers point out that change is inevitable in life, so it is important to hold on to the things and people that truly matter. Hanson wrote the lyrics themselves, setting a precedent for future boy bands to take some creative control over their music.
Related: Time travel with these throwback songs.
Good Feeling – Flo Rida
At its core, this Flo Rida hit is about having a good feeling and confidence. It was inspired by Avicii’s ‘Levels,’ and both songs sample the same part of Etta James’ ‘Something’s Got a Hold on Me.’ This dance-worthy, feel-good song can make even the most boring school day exciting.
Related: Celebrate your victory with these songs for champions.
Take on Me – A-ha
The protagonist here asks a love interest to give him a chance before it’s too late and he is out of her life forever. Its exciting animation-infused music video helped it become a hit in the United States. A-ha became the first Norwegian band to hit number one in the US with the track.
Related: You’ll love our playlist of good 80s songs.
On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons
Here’s a track that helps listeners understand how it can feel to have success after working hard at making music. It can also be applied to any situation that makes someone feel over the moon with joy. It’s made several notable pop culture appearances since its release in 2012, including at the second inauguration of US President Barack Obama; the PS22 Chorus performed it then.
Related: You’ll want to go sightseeing when you hear the best songs about traveling.
Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
Freddie Mercury wrote this song about feeling unstoppable and joyous. While the song reflects an out-of-control time in Mercury’s life from the perspective of Queen, most listeners can enjoy it as a feel-good piece that makes you want to dance and enjoy life. It’s a great track to introduce students to classic rock in a fun way.
Related: Check out these songs about fun times.
Ok Ok – Hoko
The protagonist of this rousing piece isn’t waiting to feel better any longer. He wants his love interest to know that his feelings are beyond anything simple and that he desires to pursue a relationship.
Cha Cha Slide – DJ Casper
This track was created as a fitness track for Bally Fitness in the United States. It’s a fun dance that’s easy to learn. It can give students an enjoyable break from everyday fitness routines in gym class. It’s also a clean choice for any school dance that makes for a great group dance.
More school-appropriate songs:
- Party in the U.S.A. – Miley Cyrus
- Kill ‘Em with Kindness – Selena Gomez
- Don’t Stop the Music – Justin Bieber
- Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
- The River of Dreams – Billy Joel
- Cheap Thrills – Sia and Sean Paul