By Risa Young and Robin Smith
- bells, rhythm sticks, and other rhythm instruments
- marker and paper for brainstorming
- lively instrumental music
- portable tape or CD player (if available)
- Children will use critical-thinking skills as they choose appropriate movements and music for their dance.
In Advance: Talk about weather changes. Ask, " How have the plants and trees changed since summer started? How do you think the earth knew it was time for summer?"
Explain that many years ago, people used to believe that the earth needed help to wake up from its winter sleep, so they invented a dance to wake up the earth. The purpose of the dance is to make as much noise as possible so the earth will awaken and start to grow and bloom again.
Talk about ways to make "pretty" noises-noises that will wake up the earth but not scare it. Brainstorm a list of pretty noises. Ask, "What can we use from our classroom to make pretty noises? What pretty noises can we make with our bodies?" Suggest instruments if necessary. As a group, decide the noises to be used in the dance.
Practice the different movements and noises inside before going outside to "wake up the earth." Gather children in a circle on the floor. Ask them to take turns demonstrating one way they can use their bodies to wake up the earth. Methods can include stamping, clapping, hopping, and so on. Ask children to show how these movements can be done in a pretty, graceful way.
Next, choose instruments for the dance. Practice with different instruments to find the most appropriate ones. As a final preparation, play a small section of a few different recordings and allow children to choose the most appropriate background music for the dance.
Now it's time to take the dance and instruments outdoors. Define the dance area and organize the children into groups of dancers and instrumentalists. Put on the music and encourage children to dance and play their instruments. Stress the importance of listening to the music so they can play and dance in coordination with the beat. A good rule to enforce with children: If you can't hear the music, you are too loud.
The next few days after the dance, watch for new signs of growth around the school. Make an experience chart of the changes that children notice.
SPIN-OFF: Introduce children to photography by taking some photos of the trees and plants that surround your school during the month of May. Encourage children to notice the details of the objects you are photographing. Display the photos in the classroom. Then, during mid- to late summer, photograph the same trees and plants and display these beside the originals in the classroom. Talk with children about the changes in trees and plants. Discuss why they might look different including the influence of time and weather changes.
Ah Music! by Aliki(HarperCollins, 2005; $7)
M is for Melody by Kathy-jo Wargin (Sleeping Bear Press, 2004; $17)
Zini Zini Zini A Violin by Lloyd Moss (Simon & Schuster, 2005; $5)
*To order, call 800-SCHOLASTIC.