One of my favorite Second Grade units is Carnival of the Animals. We learn about this music of Saint Saens and do some fun activities that focus on listening skills. Carnival of the Animals is a set of pieces that Saint Saens, a French composer, wrote as a joke. These pieces were all meant to sound like, imitate or make you think of various animals. To begin this unit we listened to a few pieces and imagined what the composer might have wanted us to identify. "Do the strings sound like chickens in this piece?" "Why do you think Saint Saens used a low sounding instrument for the elephant?" and "What instrument is playing the roar of the lion?" were just a few questions we discussed while listening.
Later while listening to "The Aquarium" we discovered a new note-the whole note. This note looks a lot like a donut and gets four counts (ta-a-a-a). We moved to the whole note and then used bottles of bubbles to blow through the whole note. Students used their critical listening skills and stirred bubbles until they heard a whoe note in the melody and then blew four counts worth of bubbles.
A few weeks ago I attended a workshop by Dan Fee (who is AMAZING!). The bubbles and the cup stacking in the next activity were ideas that he described in his workshop. The kids had such a great time! For the "Tortoise" we moved very slow, like tortoises, and stacked cups. Only by moving slowly like a tortoise could we get our stacks all the way up. During this activity students got to hear this amazing music over and over, used problem solving skills to decide how to complete the task alone, with a partner and with a group. Fun!
Other Carnival of the Animals activities included using ribbon streamers to dance like birds and to identify the "cuckoo" sound made by the clarinet in the "Cuckoo" piece.
Watch the video we watched in class HERE. This video allows students to hear Carnival of the Animals poetry, see the animals from the pieces and hear an orchestra perform the music.
You might like this Carnival of Animals Bundle that includes Carnival of the Animal crafts, listening logs, coloring pages and a bright and beautiful bulletin board. I love, love, love this set!