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Popping Popcorn Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-MUS0220
Submitted by: David Demnitz
Email: ddemnitz@workingfamilies.com
School/University/Affiliation: Greenburgh Eleven UFSD, Dobbs Ferry, NY
Date: October 21, 2003

Grade Level: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


  • Arts/Music

Duration: 45 minutes

Description: A song using the percussive sound of popcorn popping for elementary instrumental students to sing and play.

National Standards for Music Education :
1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.

New York State Standards for the Arts :
Standard 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts (Perform music written by others. They will understand and use the basic elements of music in their performances and compositions. Students will engage in individual and group musical and music-related tasks).

Standard 2: Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources (Students will use traditional instruments, electronic instruments, and a variety of nontraditional sound sources to create and perform music. They will use various resources to expand their knowledge of listening experiences, performance opportunities, and/or information about music.)

Standard 3: Responding to and Analyzing Works of Art (Students will respond critically to a variety of works in the arts, connecting the individual work to other works and to other aspects of human endeavor and thought. Demonstrate the capacity to listen to and comment on music. They will relate their critical assertions about music to its aesthetic, structural, acoustic, and psychological qualities. Students will use concepts based on the structure of music’s content and context to relate music to other broad areas of knowledge. They will use concepts from other disciplines to enhance their understanding of music.)

Objective: Students will sing a song about popping popcorn and will play instruments to accompany their singing.


  • percussion instruments
  • piano or electronic keyboards
  • bass (optional)
  • American Drum Set (optional)
  • melody instruments (Marimbas, xylophones, etc.)
  • Musical Score
  • Musical Score in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.


  • Introduction – A section of music at the beginning of a musical composition.
  • Coda – A section of music at the end of a composition.
  • Steps – An interval or space between two musical notes which lies between adjacent notes of a scale.
  • Jumps – An interval or space between two musical notes which passes over one or more notes in a scale.
  • Procedure:
    Sing the song with the students first. This way, they learn the subject matter. (Please see attached score). Teach the basic calypso rhythm I’ve written for claves (Please see attached score). If you have enough rhythm instruments for everyone, hand them out. If not, the students can clap the rhythm. Have the students sing the song as they play the rhythm. This is easy, since the melody is pretty much the basic calypso rhythm. Make sure the students can identify notes by looking at the pattern of black notes. The most important note is really E, since the melody begins on that note, and the rest is sequences and steps. You might review steps and jumps, too, since the melody is made of phrases which are composed of steps and the phrases are played up and down in steps.

    Begin teaching the melody. Clap the rhythm. The melody is easily memorized, but can be read, since it’s all steps and sequences and so is especially appropriate for an intervallic reading approach which is anchored by middle C.

    Let the students practice the melody out of time. When they’re ready, have them play the first phrase in time as you play the accompaniment. Then add the rest of the phrases, keeping in mind that repetition in the early stages makes things harder, almost like a tongue twister. Rehearse a couple of phrases, then stop for a bit.

    If anyone can play a simple Calypso drum accompaniment, add that now. Or, you can teach the rhythm I’ve written for drum set in parts, one group playing the quarter note bass drum rhythm, and the other playing or clapping the snare drum rhythm. In my experience, students have no trouble playing the syncopated snare drum rhythm since it’s so similar to the clave rhythm they learned in earlier. Add the cadence (the ‘Pop. Pop. Pop pop poppopop’ part) after the students can play the drum set rhythm in time.

    Assign students to play instruments and sing. Teach the bass part. The rhythm is the same as the clave part, and only two notes change. This is pretty much the bass pattern of We Love Calypso except that each bass phrase is repeated. Get students to play chords, the more the merrier. While the chords are whole notes, they aren’t symmetrical. Now you’re ready to put the whole thing together. Don’t forget the butter and the salt!

    Assessment: Teacher observation of students’ participation and involvement in singing and playing.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * National Standards for Music Education (MENC)

    * New York State Standards for the Arts