Getting creative with Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”

I have a new co-teacher this semester, Grace, and we decided to try something new with our special weekly Creative English class. Basically, it’s a class the school has set aside for my 5th and 6th graders, and I’m to use it as a way to focus less on grammar and spelling, more on cultural exchange and overall fun. As you can imagine, it’s my absolute favorite class to teach! Even better, I’ve had complete creative control so far, and with Grace by my side, we’re using our allotted time to channel the kids’ energy into pop songs and music video projects.

For the first month, we studied “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Of course, we talked about the meaning, spent a lot of time memorizing the lyrics, watched the music video and checked out the 24-hour website. But on top of all that, we let the students know a music video would be the final reward for all their hard work, and that’s all it took to convince them that, yes, English class can be fun!

Here’s the video we recorded, which features all of my 5th and 6th grade students at one point or another. Grace makes a special high-five appearance at 1:17, but you won’t see me because I’m working the camera (attached to a crooked tripod, which murders the perfectionist in me — aaaaauuuugggghhhh!). That’s alright, the world isn’t ready for my mad dance skillz 😉

P.S. – The more views the video gets, the more stamps/stickers/candy/rewards the kids get. I’m pretty sure they expect this thing to go viral and that I’ll make it rain with chocolate and suckers.


Because this video was such a hit, my tiny mountain school requested that I do the same project with my students there. Although I’m not given a specific class for creative English at the small school, I am able to get through the book material faster due to having fewer students in each class, which gives me extra time to do fun stuff like this.

With that being said, here are all* of the students I teach in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades, dancing and smiling and laughing in some of my favorite locations on the school’s property.

*All students minus two very camera shy, self-conscious 6th grade girls. I was super bummed they didn’t want to participate, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel their pain when I was that age. Oh well!


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