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Musical Cartoons Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-MUS0206
Submitted by: David DeStefano
Email: DuckieDCD@yahoo.com
School/University/Affiliation: Denham Oaks Elementary School, Lutz, FL

July 18, 2001

Grade Level: 3, 4, 5


  • Arts/Music
  • Arts/Process Skills

Duration: 35-45 minutes

Description: In this lesson, students will analyze Polka from The Bolt by Shostakovich and create a musical cartoon depicting the changes in the music.

Goals: Sunshine State Standards (Florida) for Music addressed in this lesson:

  • MU.B.2.2.2: The student understands how composed music communicates text, ideas, meanings, and emotion.
  • MU.D.1.2.1: The student knows how to analyze simple songs in regard to rhythm, melodic movement, and basic forms.
  • MU.D.1.2.2: The student identifies instruments and their families and performance.
  • MU.D.1.2.3: The student uses perceptual skills and appropriate terminology to describe aural examples of diverse music.
  • Objectives:

  • Using aural skills, students will analyze dynamics, tempo, texture, timbre, pitch, and form of music.
  • Students will use creative thinking skills to create a musical cartoon depicting the changes in the music.
  • Materials:

    • recording of Polka from The Bolt by Shostakovich
    • stereo
    • paper
    • pencils/pens
    • crayons, markers, etc.
    • overhead projector (or chalkboard/dry erase board with markers/chalk)

    Relate to students by talking about cartoons and how the music helps to tell the story. If the sound were turned off, it wouldn’t be quite the same. [ Author’s Note: The example I use is watching a cartoon as a child when suddenly my brother turned off the sound. Though I got to see that pile of dishes crashing to the floor, I didn’t get to hear it (the drums, cymbals, and other percussion instruments that made the sound).]

    Draw a chart on the board or overhead listing BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END (horizontally) and the choices (vertically) of: LOUD or SOFT, FAST or SLOW, MANY or FEW (# of instruments), and HIGH or LOW. (If students have learned the Italian terms, then those terms could be used instead). Begin playing Polka, pausing the music for the class to fill in the chart. If students recognize the instruments being played, then write those down as well. Using the chart as a guide, discuss with the class what kind of character may be present or what event may be happening in each section of the music (e.g. soft, slow, high pitched music would suggest a small character with not much action, like a mouse or bird).

    Distribute paper, pencils, etc. to students. Ask them to fold the paper in half vertically and then horizontally, creating four panels when the paper is unfolded. Explain that they will be creating their own musical cartoon depicting the music they have just heard. Play the BEGINNING section of Polka 3-4 times while students draw the first part of their cartoon in the first panel of their paper. Repeat this process with the MIDDLE and END sections, which should be drawn in the second and third panels. In the fourth panel, students should write a paragraph summarizing what happened in their musical cartoon. If students finish early, then they may add details to their drawings or color them in. Assessment: The completed drawings can be assessed on a 3-point scale:

    • 3 – Cartoon reflects ABA form of the music with appropriate actions and characters. Summary is written with complete sentences, correct spelling, punctuation, etc.
    • 2 – Cartoon is basically complete but is missing an important element such as: does not reflect ABA form, summary is not in paragraph form, etc.
    • 1 – Despite completeness of the cartoon, it does not reflect ABA form and the summary is not written properly.
    • 0 – Cartoon shows lack of effort and is incomplete.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * Florida Information Resource Network
    The Florida Information Resource Network (FIRN) is an extensive network which electronically links all of Florida’s public education entities to computing resources which serve public education.

    * National Association for Music Education
    http://www.menc.org Special Comments: I chose to use Polka for this activity because of its drastic changes, but any other piece of instrumental music that is visually stimulating and in ABA form can also be used.