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This lesson involves squishy balls, keeping a steady beat and Edvard Grieg’sPeer Gynt Suite




1, 2, 3  

Title – Peer Gynt Activity
By – Nancy Nummy
Primary Subject – Music
Grade Level – 1-3


      After hearing

The Tale of the Mountain King

      , students listen to a recording of

In the Hall of the Mountain King

      from Edvard Grieg’s

Peer Gynt Suite

    , and then play this beat keeping game. This is a lesson in teamwork, self control, coordination, keeping a steady beat, tempo and dynamic change, folk tales, and history of classical music.

Materials needed:

  • Recording of the In the Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg
  • Approximately six soft squishy balls that are easy to handle with little hands and don’t hurt if noses get bonked
  • Tale of the Mountain King (below)


      Sit the class in a circle and tell them the story of the Mountain King. My version (below) came from an information page from an album I no longer have. Suffice it to say, their favorite part is discussing what the trolls might have eaten at their feast for the man who wanted to be the Mountain King.
      After the story is told, listen to the music. Tell them that the music begins right after the unpleasant man wakes up in the dark forest. Interject where other key parts of the story are happening in the music – especially the chase!
      When the music ends, ask what happened to the music as the story progressed. (

It got louder and faster.

      ) Then tell them they they will listen to the music again, but this time they will be playing a game. Instruct them to pass the ball to their neighbor by putting the ball

in their lap

      on the beat. This is really the only way to see a clear beat, passing hand to hand just doesn’t do it as well. You might want to practice this with them before you start the music. (

At this point, I would set some ground rules, such as if the ball is dropped, only the person it was meant for can go get the ball. This will prevent five or six of them diving into the circle!

      Start the music and encourage them to listen very carefully for the beat. If they have trouble, it sometimes helps to whisper the word “pass” on the beat for them. Of course, when the music gets faster and faster, it gets harder to pass on the beat, let alone


      it, for all the squeals and giggles. Warn them about the part toward the end that sounds like the man tripping and tumbling. It is more of a challenge if you ask them to get the ball back in your hands before the last beat.
    There’s more than a good chance they will ask to play this game again! If you do play it again, add more balls to the circle. It’s a hoot!


The Tale of the Mountain King

( as remembered by Nancy Nummy from a booklet in an old album that doesn’t exist anymore )


Once in a little village below a great mountain, there lived a very unpleasant man. He was quite fond of himself and insisted that people treat him with great respect for surely he deserved it! Well, the people of the village were not amused. They knew he was not a nice person. He never spoke kindly about anyone, he never helped when someone had a problem, and he never even offered a “hello” when passing in the street! You can imagine how the villagers felt when the very unpleasant man announced to them that he should be their king!

Well, after the villagers finished laughing, the man went off to pout. When he did, he took a very long look at the huge mountain that stood above the village. He decided that if he couldn’t be king of the village, then he must be king of the mountain. After all, it is much taller, much bigger, and certainly more important that the puny little village! Yes, the mountain must be his… but to be a proper king he must have a queen! He must have a plan to find himself a queen.

On a very pleasant Saturday, the very un pleasant man snuck around the village until he came upon a wedding just about to begin in the chapel. You would never believe what he did! He snuck into the chapel, stole the bride away and ran off toward the mountain! The whole village heard about his awful deed and ran off after him.

When he came to the forest on the mountain, the bride thief tripped on a rock, fell, and hit his head, knocking him unconscious. When he woke up, the bride was gone and the forest was very dark and spooky. Then, from far away, he heard some strange music and followed the sound until he came to a bluff overlooking a very strange sight!

There below the man, a group of very ugly trolls was dancing around a fire. Their dance was very clumsy and the rags that they wore were dirty and smelly. This made the man believe that they were very stupid creatures. “Aha!” he thought. “I could certainly be their king and this would make me King of the Mountain! So the man made his way down to the circle of dancers and announced his intention to be their king.

Well… the only reason those trolls didn’t eat him right then and there was because the true king of the trolls had a daughter that he was trying to find a husband for. He had been King of the Trolls for a very long time and didn’t think any of the trolls he knew could take his place. Why not give this creature a try? He certainly thinks a lot of himself. So the king told the very unpleasant man that he could be king IF he agreed to do as the trolls do and become one himself. Then he would marry the king’s daughter and become the King of the Trolls! The man agreed and began to do as trolls do so that he could become a troll himself.

The first thing he needed was to look more like a troll, so the lady trolls made him a coat of stinky fur with a tail attached. When he put the coat on it was very heavy and it made him bend over a bit from the weight. It was also very smelly, but it certainly helped him look more like a troll!

The second task was to act like a troll. He snuck around in the shadows like the other trolls and he danced around the fire like the other trolls. This made the king very happy, because the man seemed very close to becoming a troll worthy of marrying his daughter! There was only one more task the man had to complete… he must eat troll food!

The Troll King ordered food to be brought before the man so that he could eat like a troll. You can only imagine what kind of food was served! (Here’s where I ask my students to give their guesses on what the trolls ate. This is lots of giggly fun!) When he saw the platters and bowls and trays of the yuckiest food coming toward him… it was more than he could bear. Off came the troll coat, up came his posture, and away he ran! He would not be a troll king or even a mountain king, and certainly not a troll husband!

Down the mountain he ran, with the pack of trolls close behind him. Faster and faster he raced until his feet were moving faster than his body could handle. Suddenly, he tripped and tumbled, then gained his balance, but tripped again, and again, and again until he landed hard and hit his head… again!

When he woke up this time , there were no trolls around him, no deep dark forest, just a crowd of villagers and a very upset bride glaring down upon him. What happened to him then? That’s for you to decide!

The End


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