This week’s lesson is all about teaching poetry through music. We paired a well-known Shel Silverstein poem with a piece by Charles Ives to highlight the opposites of high and low. This language arts lesson plan also focuses on rhyming, rhythm, and word choice.
This lesson was originally written for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Tiny Tot’s program. They came and asked me to write some arts integration lessons for their concert series that teachers across the state of Maryland could use as preparation for their concert field trips. So, I partnered with a fantastic 2nd grade teacher, Candace Hutcheson, and away we went. I’ll be featuring these for the next few weeks, and each were written for students in grade K-3.
Have a great time with this one!
Step 1: Read the Poem “The Elephant” by Shel Silverstein. Discuss with students what they think that the poem means and why it is funny. Then, have students picture each of the animals.
Step 2: Have them create a web in the shape of each animal that describes the characteristic of the animal. IE: Create a web that looks like the rough outline of an elephant and one that looks like a grasshopper. Each web then becomes the animal descriptions.
Step 3: Have students notice that the elephant is bigger than the grasshopper. Ask them to think about and predict what kind of sound each of them would make. Big, small? Loud, soft? High, low? These are all opposites.
Step 4: Then, have students listen to “The Circus Band” by Charles Ives. Have them pick out the opposites that they hear in the music.
Step 5: Then, have the students move as an elephant when the music is low and as a grasshopper when the music is high. Give students a set of metallophones and have them play the low part of the instrument for the elephant and the high part of the instrument for the grasshopper.
Step 6: Finally, read the poem again and this time, have students play the appropriate part of the instrument when you get to the word elephant each time and when you get to the word grasshopper each time.
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.