One of my favorite pieces to teach was always ‘The Carnival of the Animals’ by Camille Saint-Saëns. I think this stemed from my student teaching, we did a whole unit on the piece and it was one of those things that carried over into my first job. I spent about two weeks of my kindergarten lessons going over it with my little guys, we watched short videos, listened to snippets and related it to animals, read books, did movement activities all relating to the song. By the end of the short unit, my students were able to identify certain movements and tell me the animal related to it and describe a piece of music without lyrics by how it sounds (fast, slow, high, low, etc.)
Below are some recommendations for activities when teaching Carnival of the Animals to younger students:
The Carnival of the Animals by Jack Prelutsky My favorite book to read by my favorite poet, Jack Prelutsky. I would only read a couple of poems at a time because they are so long, but with this book they can be easily segmented and not ruin the story by dividing it up. The CD that comes with it is fantastic as well. I loved to let Jack read for me and then the students would move to the music afterward.
Carnival of the Animals with Bugs and Daffy this is a cute video with characters all children should know anyway. Bugs and Daffy go at it while teaching kids about the Carnival of the Animals.
Carnival of the Animals by France Televisions Distribution SA
Carnival of the Animals by Naxos
For the tech savy, these apps are great to sit down and go through with a class or to let students explore on their own or in small groups. Each app plays the music and talks to the students about the animals.
The movements in this piece are great to add props to. Students can dance around with scarves to ‘The Aquarium’ or throw bean bags in the air as the ‘Kangaroo‘ bounces around.
You can also have them meander around your room as the movements are playing as the animal the music is portraying. This is a great way to assess if they can identify the animals with the music yet.
Four Corners– I put pictures of the animals around the room and would play certain movements of the piece. The students would walk to the picture that they think was playing and stay there until the right answer was revealed. (Another great assessment) We would have a discussion about making your own choices as well and being safe while moving around the room.
What do you hear?- Very simple activity, I would play a movement and then have them come up with describing words about the movement and we would right them on the board and then talk about them.
What’s your favorite piece of music to teach your students?
I used one of Jack’s poems with my third grade classes to help teach rondo form. It was titled, “Rat for Lunch”. The kids ate it up 😉
Love that poem!