How to Help Students Make Playlists that Promote Well-Being

How to Help Students Make Playlists that Promote Well-Being


In a pinch, music can be just the thing we need. Everyone knows the feeling of hearing their favorite song come through their headphones. For that reason, a lot of people curate playlists that are not only selections of beloved bops, but also themed collections of songs. A good playlist can serve a particular purpose (i.e. getting-ready-to-go-out music, chill-out-study music, Friday-night-turn-up music, etc.) or it can focus on a specific mood, sub-genre of music, region, or artist. In “How Roller Skating Helped Me Reclaim My Joy,” Noella Williams highlights several songs that helped her through pandemic doldrums and served as the soundtrack to her budding love of roller skating. In this lesson plan, you’ll guide students through making the perfect playlist to meet them at this moment. 


What song have you had on repeat lately? Why? What purpose does this song serve for you? For example, does this song always calm you down? Energize you?

Give students a minute to think about their answer to these questions. Then invite students to share as a class, in small groups, or in pairs. If students are in pairs or small groups and have access to a computer, they can share a 30-second clip of the song they chose.

Optionally, if students are sharing as a class, teachers may want to write down the songs that students mention. Later you can assemble these songs into a classroom playlist via Spotify or Youtube and share the link with the entire class. A classroom playlist will help you learn more about your students and builds community.


Gives students 5 – 10 minutes to read How Roller Skating Helped Me Reclaim My Joy by Noella Williams

Part 1: Discuss as a class, in small groups, or pairs: 

  • What is something that brought you joy during the pandemic? 
  • What is something new that you tried during the pandemic? 
  • Did you pick up any habits during the pandemic? 

Part 2: Explore Noella’s Spotify roller skating playlist.

Give students 10 minutes to listen to songs and look up the different musicians represented on the playlist. Discuss as a class, in small groups, or pairs: 

  • What do you notice about Noella’s Spotify roller skating playlist? 
  • What do you wonder about Noella’s playlist?
  • Which artists do you recognize from the playlist?

ACTIVITY 2: Making individual playlists

Part 1: Identify the purpose of your playlist.

Tell students that they’ll be creating a playlist with at least eight songs, but first they have to decide their playlist’s purpose, application or theme. Brainstorm options as a class. Noella created a playlist as the soundtrack to her roller skating. Possible playlists purposes could be for studying, the commute to school, or the very best dance tunes. 

If a student has trouble choosing a theme/concept for their playlist, they may want to pick a song they know they want to include, and then decide what themes it might fit. You may want to prompt students with the following questions:

Do you listen to it to wake up in the morning and get going?  

When playing video games? 

Meeting up with friends?  

When you are feeling sad or angry or excited?  

Is it part of a sub-genre of music where there might be other associated artists/songs you want to include?  

After brainstorming, have students identify a purpose that resonates with them. 

Part 2: Come up with a title for your playlist.

Good playlist titles are concise, so urge students to make sure their titles aren’t too wordy. Alliteration is also great and can make playlists sound snappier. Try to capture a feeling or purpose in 2-3 words. Titles can be as abstract or on-the-nose as students want. Here are some titles from some popular playlists from YR Media’s curated music stream, All Day Play: Soup or Socks, Beats & Bytes, Rap Caviar, Pop Chillout, Majestic Casual, LoFi Phonk, Trappin in Japan. If students need inspiration, they can also scroll through popular playlists on music platforms like Spotify. 

Part 3: Choose your songs.

Invite students to select at least eight songs for their playlist. On average eight songs will be about 30 minutes of music. 

A good playlist has some connection to its creator. We all have different takes on music just like we all enjoy different foods, so make sure to encourage students to include songs that connect to them and the purpose. 

Students can use any music platform that they have access to like Youtube, Spotify or Apple Music. If students do not have access to any of these platforms or do not have access to a computer, they can simply write out the songs and musicians that make up their playlist. Ultimately, students will create a document that contains all of the playlist information.

Part 4: Create a short description of the playlist.

Students will write 2-3 sentences about the playlist’s purpose. To write the description, students may ask themselves:

  • How do I want people to feel when they listen to this playlist? 
  • Why did I make this playlist? 

Part 5 (optional): Students may want to identify an image that represents their playlist. They will put this image at the top of their playlist doc.

Part 6: Students can upload their playlist docs to a shared drive where their peers can explore and interact with playlists. 

Invite students to make at least two comments on a classmate’s playlist. Some things that students might consider when commenting on their classmates’ playlists are: 

  • Were you surprised to see a particular song on the playlist? Why?
  • Based on the songs and artists included in the playlist, is there a song or artist that you would recommend to your classmate? 
  • Is there a particular feeling of emotion that you associate with the songs on the playlist?


Discuss as a class:

  • What did you notice about the songs that you chose for your playlist?
  • Do you think that you’re likely to listen to your playlist? Why or why not?
  • Was there a classmate’s playlist that you think that you’ll listen to? 
  • What did you notice about the playlists your peers made?


Teachers, are you excited about the work your students created? As always, if your students love what they created please invite them to join YR Media’s community and pitch their pieces to our editors. And teachers, sign up here to receive email updates when new curriculum tools are published and become a member of our growing teacher network!

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