877-542-5504 877-542-5504

Carnival of the Animals Lesson Plan

Want to Help Fellow Teachers?

Please help us grow this free resource by submitting your favorite lesson plans.

Lesson Plan #: AELP-MUS0013
Submitted by: Lynne Griffiths
Email: lgriffiths@learnfree.co.uk
School/University/Affiliation: The Fold School U.K. Date: February 5, 2000

Grade Level(s): Kindergarten


  • Arts/Music

Duration: 30 minutes

Description: To listen to The Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens, and to identify the mood and character of each animal.

Goals: Students will recognize that music can be used to represent different effects.

Objectives: Students will identify the animals sounds being played to them.


  • The Best of Saint-Saens CD. Emd/Emi Classics – #69112 / January 8, 1988.  Audio CD / AAD / Number of Discs: 1 ASIN: B000002SDI
  • CD player

Procedure: Tell group about ‘The Carnival of the Animals’ and the composer Saint- Saens

Saint-Saens was very fond of animals and wrote a book about them. One year while he was on holiday, he composed some music, which he called The Carnival of the Animals. The music is written to reflect the type of animal it is about.

Saint-Saens was born in Paris. He became famous as a composer nd also as a very clever pianist. He first played the piano at a concert when he was only 8 years old, and he was still giving concerts when he was 85.

Show a sheet with a picture of a violin, glockenspiel, xylophone, flute, clarinet, double bass, piano and a cello.

Lay out a list of the animals, which he wrote music for. I cut this down to the Lions, elephant, Fish, Donkeys, Birds and Fossils.

Ask the children which instruments they think Saint- Saens used for each animal.

Listen to the excerpts for these animals using The Carnival of the Animals by Saint- Saens.

Discuss how the music represents the different animals.

Identify the mood and character of each animal.

Discuss the musical elements used to achieve this.

Lions – The piece starts with the lions waking up, stretching before they spring to their feet. Loud roaring sounds played on the pianos and later strings, warn us how fierce these animals are Strings and pianos
Tortoise – A musical joke. This piece is ‘the Can-Can’ played much slower. Strings and pianos
Elephant – Starts with plodding music and then another musical joke. The elephant would like to be a dancer, the music should be graceful but is a ‘clumsy’ dance tune (Saint-Saens borrowed this music from French composer Berlioz) Double bass
The Aquarium – Sparkling sounds on the glockenspiel represent these fish swimming gracefully through the water glockenspiel
Donkeys – The sounds make it quite obvious which animals these should be! Violin
Aviary – Most important instrument is the flute representing the tweeting and the movement of the birds Flute Strings Piano
Fossils – Another musical joke. A piece made up of several tunes which he has ‘dug up’ from the past A very skeletal piece. xylophone

Play the music. Ask the children to identify which animal is being played.


Did the children recognize which instruments were being used to represent each animal?
Could they recognize which animal was being played when hearing the music?