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Here students compose music to tell folktales




2, 3  

Title – Telling Folktales with Music

By – Hanna Mathey

Primary Subject – Music

Grade Level – 2-3 grade

Students will be able to identify the action of the story and relate it musically, composing the music themselves.

To set up this lesson, the students watched Serge Prokofiev’s

Peter and the Wolf

(from the 1946 Disney production,

Make Mine Music

). We discussed how music can help to tell a story, represent characters, and move the action. (You could play a sound recording instead of the movie.)

Choose a folk tale (such as

The North Wind and the Sun


The Tortoise and the Hare

, or

The 3 Little Pigs

). Tell the story to the students, then discuss what happened.

Using hand drums, rhythm sticks, tambourines, and any other kinds of classroom instruments, have the students discuss ideas on how to represent characters and actions with instruments.

Here’s an example of how we told the story of the

Tortoise and the Hare


    The Tortoise was represented by playing the hand drums slow and steady. The Hare was represented by rhythm sticks “hopping” quickly. We used maracas to emulate the Hare snoring (while the hand drums continued as the Tortoise moved on). The triangle woke the Hare from his nap as he saw the Tortoise moving to the finish line, where the crowd–tambourines–cheered him on to victory!

A continuation of the activity could be creating a full on production with musicians playing instruments and performers acting out the scene, with masks and/or costumes, and even background sets.


Hanna Mathey


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