Music Lesson Reflection: Rain Unit

Creating this lesson as a group was challenging but rewarding. At first, there were so many different personalities working together that it seemed nothing was getting done. It wasn’t until we figured out that we should be harnessing these differences to find out all the different ways we could teach rain in a unit. The one thing that was unclear was how to present the lesson to the class in a formal 20 minute presentation. This was challenging because we had not created one lesson that we could teach to the class. Instead, we designed a broader view of an entire unit that integrated many different subjects through varying capacities. The presentation itself ended up being broad but cohesive. I think in the future it would be helpful to have written down key notes to say for each lesson in the unit. I found that by having the unit in a big picture it was hard to narrow down important key aspects of each lesson.

Here is the written form describing our lesson presentation:

Our group decided to create an outline for an entire unit around rain and weather. This unit was intended for grade 1’s. It consisted of 5 segments which included reading a book, inventing a rain dance, learning about the weather and making a tornado jar, making a rain stick, and finally, learning the rain song and using body procession and the rain stick for the rhythm. This unit integrates many subjects and is an engaging way to teach about rain. Through these many different approaches to learning the one subject matter, students get a more in-depth learning experience about rain!

We wanted to start with the book the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” as a hook to get students engaged in the topic. I like this way of inducing a topic because it is not explicitly said. This way, students discover for themselves that water and rain will be the topic they will learn. Along with the book will also be the hand gestures of the spider climbing up the water spout. For grade 1’s this is a fun and active participation in the reading.

Next would be the invention of the rain dance. This class would integrate language arts into the lesson and help to develop many skills associated with dance such as spatial awareness, body awareness, creativity, rythm and abstract movements. This lesson would be taught by having students join into groups of 5 or 6 and collaborating to create a group rain dance together.

The next lesson is intended to learn about other types of weather. For example, thunder and tornados would also be covered. In this lesson science can be integrated. It is enhanced by having students create their own tornado jar. This is done by putting water in a mason jar (or other jars that include lids). For creative fun, things can be added to the jar to make it more exciting. This could include glitter, food colouring, or sequins. This is a great craft to do with students because not only is it an informational project, but doubles as a stress reliever for the future. These jars are great tools in the classroom for students that need some time to take a mental break.

Here is one example I found online for a way to make an authentic sounding rain stick. There are many variations for creating a rain stick. It can be done by attaching a slinky to the inside or putting nails through a cardboard tube, then either putting duct tape or paper mâché around it and lastly filling it with either corn, rice, or sticks before decorating. I think this aspect of the unit is amazing because students would be so proud to use their own instruments. Moreover, these can continue to be used for lots of other things inside and out of the classroom!

Last in the unit we decided to teach the rain song to the class. After learning the words and the rhythm with their “hand drum” (pointer and middle finger tapping palm to the beat) they can use their rain sticks to create the music for the song. The rain sticks can also be accompanied by body procession such as clacking with their mouths, rubbing hands together in a circular motion, patting on their legs, and stomping their feet. The class can then be divided into groups to perform various processions for an intricate song to be formed. Another part of this lesson would be asking students to created 1 or 2 more lines to the song.

Rain Song

Split-ter, Splat-ter, Pit-ter, Pat-ter

Rain drops fall, what does it mat-ter?

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop

Rain-ing, rain-ing, my it’s rain-ing!

Rain-ing, rain-ing, my it’s rain-ing!

Campbell, P. S., Kassner, K., & Scott-Kassner, C. (2017). Music for Elementary Classroom Teachers (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.

The placement behind the progression of the lessons was intentional. We first brainstormed all the things we could do to learn about rain, then we narrowed down our choices to grade 1 appropriate lessons. Structurally, we sorted the ideas into a pattern where one lesson would be more information driven, then the following will be active and more exploratory. For example, first a book is read where the students are sitting, next they move around to create dances, then they are back to learning about whether, after that they do an art project and make rain sticks, then at the end there is active participation while learning how to follow the rhythm of the song with words as well as body. The placement was also important so the students were engaged the entire unit. The book, as mentioned above, is a great hook that allows for the discovery of the upcoming topic. Following this, is a series of activities that build up to the final fun product of playing a song with perviously created materials.

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Chinese New Year Dragon

This craft was a fun and engaging way to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Each student was given a red oval for a part of the body and feathers, glitter glue and scrap paper to decorate. I did this craft with kindergarten’s and grade 1’s. I found the best way to organize it was to have 4 students at a time come up to the “craft station” and create their section of the dragon while the other students had free time around the room.

My one miscalculation was that I assumed the students would use lots of feathers and paper and add glitter glue at the end to decorate. However, glitter glue was a BIG hit! So much so that students would mainly use it for their piece, which we did not have the supplies for. Mid way through designing I decided to tell students that the glitter glue was used at the end after they had added other decorations. This seemed to worked well. As always I was very impressed with the final product as the children’s creativity and imagination never cease to amaze me!

All photographs in this post are licensed by Creative Commons