…..another concert possibility…..


Last year, my first graders added sound to “The Napping House” by Audrey Wood. Each child or group of children were assigned a character and played their chosen instrument when that character’s name was mentioned. It was a lot of fun and was a fantastic last-minute addition to a spring concert!

I decided to adapt this idea to a winter theme and used the book “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. This is a wonderful story of a lost mitten that provides a cozy place to relax for some woodland animals. As each animal finds a spot within the mitten…… or as they push their way in a bit…. the mitten grows larger and larger until a little mouse (like the flee in The Napping House”) creates chaos and they all exit!

Creating music to accompany this book is a simple way to bring the story to life! Each animal gets its own 2 measure composition and is played after each is introduced. For a next step, your class can put all of the 2 measure compositions together and create a stand-alone piece ~ making decisions about the order, tempo and/ or dynamics! What a blast!!   

The Mitten by Jan Brett

  • This is a modified Ukrainian folk tale
    • What is a folk tale? 
  • While the boy has his journey, the mitten is experiencing its own adventure accommodating more and more animals
  • Just like folk tales, there are folk songs 
    • Sing examples of folk songs you are singing in class
  • What does Ukrainian folk music sound like? (Popular Ukrainian Folk Songs | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (si.edu)) What does Ukrainian folk dancing look like? ( HOPAK: Traditional Ukrainian Folk Dance – YouTube )
  • Let’s add our own take to this story by giving the animals sounds
  • Process ~
    • Paying attention to what the author writes, what do you think each animal sounds like? (Use your voice first)
      • Do you think the animals’ actions are a series of short sounds or long sounds? …or are they using one long sound? (For example: scurrying = lots of short sounds, hopping = eighths, owl swooping = half note)
    • Assign an instrument to each animal
    • There are 8 animals total, so you can do the first 3 animals as a group, then divide the class into 5 small groups.
      • Each group gets 1-2 sentence strips depending on how many measures you assigned, a set of Note Knacks and crayons
    • The Task: Create a 1 – 2 mm composition to illustrate a particular animal / what would that animal sound like? (Build on what was discussed)
      • Click HERE for a detailed lesson plan on how to do this
      • Can use a 4/4 frame or have it played without meter
    • Play composition after each animal is mentioned
    • Put compositions together to create a stand-alone piece (have kids decide order, dynamics, tempo, etc.…) If there isn’t a meter, put 4 beats of rest in-between. 

We would love to hear how this lesson worked for you in the comments below!