Students and teachers love music — but finding music that hits the sweet spot between enjoyable and appropriate for school can be a real challenge! We’ve gathered up a collection of songs that teachers can enjoy in the classroom, without any worries about unexpected F-bombs or other foul language. From pre-K to high school hallways, we’ve gathered the best 45 school appropriate songs together in this list.
1. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley & the Wailers
This sweet reggae beat will relax even the most keyed up student with its lulling melody! Bob Marley’s reggae classic should be on everyone’s playlist.
2. Take On Me – A-Ha
Scratch your nostalgia itch with this sing-along favorite from a-ha. It’s infinitely danceable, so save this 80s hit for when it’s time to get up and move!
3. Levitating – Dua Lipa feat. daBaby
This synthesizer-fueled song was a hit for Dua Lipa in 2020, finding its way into the hearts of both students and adults.
4. Cha-Cha Slide – Mr C The Slide Man
We’re willing to bet that every teacher and student in school knows the words, and the moves, to this one. Perfect for holidays, dances, or anytime you want to get kids moving!
5. Can’t Stop the Feeling! – Justin Timberlake
This hit Justin Timberlake song is known not only for its infectious dance beat and lyrics but its appearance in the kids’ movie, Trolls, and is sure to be a hit with the elementary set.
6. Save Your Tears – The Weeknd & Ariana Grande
The Weeknd’s 2020 song, Save Your Tears, was received well by fans and critics and combines a throwback 80s sound with modern elements — perfect for all ages.
7. Born This Way – Lady Gaga
Who doesn’t love Lady Gaga? We’re partial to this song, Lady Gaga’s gorgeous ode to being your authentic self, even when others don’t understand or want to get in the way.
8. Treat People With Kindness – Harry Styles
Fans of all ages, from those who were into One Direction to those who weren’t born yet, love Harry for not only his beautiful singing voice, but his messages of kindness and love.
9. Alphabet Aerobics – Blackalicious
If you’re looking for some classroom-appropriate rap, we’ve got just the song for you. Blackalicious brings the beats with this fun, upbeat melody, perfect for students of all ages.
10. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
It may be an oldie, but this Cyndi Lauper classic is definitely a goodie; we could sing along to it all day, and we’re sure students will do the same.
11. September – Earth Wind & Fire
It’s impossible to be in a bad mood once the opening horn refrains from this joyful ode to fall kicks in. It’s the perfect song to welcome your students back to school.
12. Together – Sia
Sia’s unique musical sound combines elements of multiple genres — from pop to synthesizer, techno and EDM. This song first appeared in her movie, Music, which follows the journey of a young autistic girl and her relationship with songs.
13.Respect – Aretha Franklin
The Queen of Soul will have students up and dancing with this classic song about taking care of number one. She offers an incredible lesson in self-care and singing all in one.
14. Better When I’m Dancin’ – Meghan Trainor
Meghan Trainor’s upbeat personality and bubbly lyrics make this one a sure-fire dance hit for a rainy day.
15. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
Despite being written in the 70s, this song hasn’t lost a bit of its freshness. It’s Queen at its operatic best, with sweeping vocals backed by infinitely dramatic, danceable music.
16. What a Wonderful World – Joey Ramone
Punk rock stalwarts, The Ramones, may not be the first name you think of when looking for classroom music — but, trust us here, you’re going to love this one! There’s something uniquely poignant about Joey’s seasoned punk voice singing the Louis Armstrong classic to the beat of his own drum.
17. Old Town Road – Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
The unlikely pairing of a rapper and a country star produced this smash hit song, which not only rose to the top of the charts, but embedded itself into the pop culture pantheon. No doubt, students can show off one of the choreographed dances that go with the song.
18. Shake it Off – Taylor Swift
Let’s face it… either you’re a Swiftie, or you have one (or a bunch) in your class. Here’s one of Taylor’s best-known songs, a lesson in shaking off hateful comments and naysayers and doing your own thing.
19. Malibu – Miley Cyrus
While not all of Cyrus’s songs would get past school censors, this one’s a winner. Miley’s ode to her fiancé is a classic love song through and through — sweet and soulful, it’s a bit of a throwback to her Hannah Montana days.
20. The Sound of Sunshine – Michael Franti & Spearhead
According to singer Michael Franti, this title track was written in an attempt to “bottle the feeling of how good the sun feels.” We think he succeeded! Turn this one up when you’re missing summer break.
21. Best Song Ever – One Direction
Even if you weren’t a millennial watching One Direction take off, you won’t be able to resist this sing-along boy band bop, and neither will students.
22. Run Run Rudolph – Kelly Clarkson
Kelly’s version of the classic Christmas season tune, Run Run Rudolph, is one of our holiday faves and perfect for any winter classroom playlist.
23. Telepath – Conan Gray
Nobody is able to write about the feeling of breaking up like singer-songwriter Conan Gray. Telepath manages to be both melancholy and uplifting in a way that only his songs can.
24. Señorita – Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
Señorita was one of 2019’s top Latin pop songs, and one that introduced many younger listeners to the genre.
25. Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush
This classic 80s alternative hit enjoyed a resurgence with its appearance on the popular TV series, Stranger Things in 2022, and we are glad that kids finally got the memo about Kate Bush’s epic song.
26. It’s the End of the World As We Know It – R.E.M.
Kids and adults alike delight in trying to keep up with the frantic pace of R.E.M.’s 1980s end of the world lyrics.
27. Counting Stars – OneRepublic
Counting Stars is OneRepublic’s biggest hit — and with good reason. The song goes heavy on the musicality. Its piano and guitar-led arrangement lends an almost gospel feel to the song, which became a number one hit for the band.
28. Hey There Delilah – Plain White T’s
This simple song is one of the sweetest odes to long-distance love we’ve ever heard.
29. Thriller – Michael Jackson
What would the Halloween season be without Michael Jackson’s seminal song? We’ll never know, because we’ve put it in permanent holiday rotation!
30. Jump – Van Halen
Van Halen’s hair-metal meets pop style manages to be kid-friendly and a good rocking time. Bust this one out when it’s time for students to get some energy out. May we suggest an air guitar contest?
31. Permission to Dance – BTS
BTS has led the K-pop mania charge, and your students are sure to sing along with this, one of their biggest hits.
32. Fireflies – Owl City
There’s something irresistibly sweet about this strange, synthesizer-fueled number by alternative rockers Owl City. Lead singer Adam Young said that he wrote the song about his insomnia but tried to flip the condition on its head and sing about it in a light-hearted manner. Add it to your quiet time playlist for something a little different.
33. OK OK – HOKO
This love-gone-wrong song is a favorite sing-along for kids with its simple chorus and catchy beats. The band has been compared to Imagine Dragons, but it’s hard to put their sound in a box, as their blend of pop and alternative is truly unique to them.
34. Good Feeling – Flo Rida
When you’re looking for something upbeat to add to the playlist, you can’t go wrong with this good-time song by Flo Rida.
35. Happy – Pharrell Williams
Speaking of good-time songs, Williams has created the ultimate joy-infused sing-along with his hit single, Happy. In a time when co-writing music was the norm, Pharrell composed this song entirely on his own, expertly blending soul, R&B and funk. The song owes part of its lasting popularity to its repetition — the title is repeated 56 times throughout the song!
36. Pompeii – Bastille
This unique song fits somewhere between relaxing and haunting. You’ll look forward to hearing its beautiful melody sneak up on you.
37. Africa – TOTO
Kids and adults love this classic TOTO song; while it’s been covered by numerous artists, nothing beats the infectious original.
38. A-Punk – Vampire Weekend
The alternative song A-Punk has been described as having a “pogo-inducing rhythm,” which may explain why kids find it so enticing. It may sound like the title of a Halloween song, but this one’s good for year-round rocking.
39. I Want Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
While adults will appreciate the sweet lyrics about the perfection of imperfect relationships, students will appreciate all of the pop-culture references and the soft, sweeping rhythms.
40. My Universe – Coldplay X BTS
Yes, these are two Coldplay songs in a row, but hear us out; this one is special. Coldplay teamed up with K-pop superstars BTS to record this sweet love song, which features lyrics sung in both English and Korean — a terrific learning opportunity.
41. Colors – Black Pumas
Black Pumas expertly blend R&B, blues, and velvety vocals in this soft-rocking hit from their debut album.
42. All Star – Smash mouth
This song has been a mainstay of kids’ musical playlists since the early 2000s, after the song first appeared in the movie, Shrek. We dare you to try not to sing along (whether you want to or not).
43. Title Holder – The Interrupters
This upbeat song by ska-punk stars, The Interrupters, celebrates positivity and the fighting spirit that lives in all of us. This is the perfect song to introduce the ska and reggae sound to the younger set.
44. Riptide – Vance Joy
From the opening guitar riff, this song will have you feeling like you’re lying on a sandy beach. This relaxing melody will take you back to the summer you’re missing.
45. Jolly Roger – Adam & the Ants
Kids and pirates go together like peanut butter and jelly. Adam & The Ant’s theatrical singing style — not to mention his pirate-meets-new-wave ensembles — only add to the drama of the pirate-inspired lyrics of this song.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect song for a dance playlist or school event, these school-appropriate songs will be music to your ears.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.