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“Where in the World is Mr. Maraca?” is a quarter-long exploration of world music


Music, Social Studies  


K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  

Title – Where in the World is Mr. Maraca
By – Melanie Shaw
Primary Subject – Music
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – K-6

LESSON DURATION – 50 minutes

PRE-LESSON: At the beginning of the quarter, pick a musical instrument to be the classroom mascot. This lesson will be a year-long filler activity to teach students about world music. The kids will love it! (For our class, a maraca was chosen as the mascot and we named him Mr. Maraca. “He” was placed on my chalkboard at the front of the class and I would take him down and hide him when it was time for the lesson. The students would notice that Mr. Maraca was missing, immediately.) For the duration of this lesson, Mr. Maraca will be used as the mascot example.


  • Students will learn through simulation about world music
  • Students will identify and discuss stylistic components of world music
  • Students will learn about geography as it applies to world music examples

    MATERIALS NEEDED: In-focus machine, pictures of Mr. Maraca (our classroom mascot) with different backgrounds for different locations around the world, world music excerpts, E-mail from Mr. Maraca, and “The Macarena” CD.


    Anticipatory set: Students will come into the classroom and the music mascot (a maraca) will be missing from the room. In its place will be a “reward” poster for the safe return of the mascot. Tell the students that Mr. Maraca is missing and we have to discover where in the world is Mr. Maraca. Then read to them an “e-mail” from Mr. Maraca. The e-mail will say that Mr. Maraca is visiting places all around the world. There will be clues for each location and musical excerpts from the countries Mr. Maraca has visited. Read the first set of clues and the students will begin their investigation of world music through the travels of the classroom mascot, Mr. Maraca


    1. Read the students the first set of clues and play music from Italy (the first destination). Let students guess where in the world Mr. Maraca is located. Show the picture of Mr. Maraca in Italy on a Gondola. (Picture created using PhotoShop or other photo altering program of choice). Give these clues:

        1) I have eaten a lot of spaghetti in this country.

        2) There is a city here with no streets, only watery canals.

        3) There is a tower here that leans over so far it looks like it might fall over.

      4) People here say, “ciao, gratzie, and Bonjourno”. Have students begin to guess where Mr. Maraca is. Play music from Italy (Vivaldi, Puccini, etc.).

    2. Read to the students the next set of clues. Have the students listen to music from the Middle East and then let them guess where in the world Mr. Maraca is located. Show the students pictures of Mr. Maraca in Middle Eastern Countries (pictures created using PhotoShop or other program). Give these clues:

        1) Mr. Maraca is in a place where there is a lot of sand but not a lot of water.

        2) He has listened to music that was played on a special drum called a doumbek.

      3) Mr. Maraca knows that Turkey refers to something other than a bird. Have students begin to guess where in the world Mr. Maraca is by playing musical excerpts from the Middle East.

    3. Tell students that the last place Mr. Maraca is visiting is someplace familiar to all of the students. List the clues and then play musical examples from America showing Mr. Maraca at the Grand Canyon and in a NYC taxi (pictures created using PhotoShop). Give these clues:

        1) Mr. Maraca has been eating some traditional foods from this country like fried chicken and hamburgers.

        2) This country is the birthplace of rock and jazz music.

      3) Aaron Copeland, Elvis, and 50 Cent are all from this country. Have students begin to guess where in the world is Mr. Maraca by playing music by Elvis, Charles Ives, and Duke Ellington.

    Closure: Tell the students that Mr. Maraca wants the class to perform his favorite dance before he returns. Play the Macarena and have the class dance all together.

    Going further: Continue a quarterly lesson with Mr. Maraca, exposing students to a variety of world music and geography. You could use any location to highlight a particular world music.

    STUDENT ASSESSMENT: On the quarterly music exam, students should be provided a space to draw a picture or write a narrative about Mr. Maraca and his travels. Ask them to provide details about the music of the location they chose to portray or write about.

    CONTENT AREA INTEGRATION: This lesson blends world music and geography. The students should have maps to identify where Mr. Maraca is located. Students watch slide shows of locations featuring architectural and geographical highlights of each region with Mr. Maraca appearing in each photo.

    E-Mail Melanie Shaw !

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