NOTE: Classics for Kids® music is available on aClassics for Kids® CD, which can be purchased at The 90.9 WGUC Store. Audio files can also be heard on classicsforkids.com.
1. Play one of Classics for Kids® pieces. Don't divulge its title. Discuss various qualities of the work: is it loud or soft? fast or slow? angry or peaceful? Is the composer is trying to tell a story with his music (this is called program music)? Ask students to draw a picture of what they think the music is about. After the drawings are finished, talk about what they represent. Of particular interest is a discussion of the various colors used by the students to show different aspects of the music.
2. Some children like to make up stories to go along with a musical composition. Play one of the Classics for Kids® pieces. Don't divulge the title. Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students and ask each to make up a tale that goes along with the music.
3. If students are doing creative writing, ask them to pick a piece that illustrates their ideas. The Classics for Kids® resources contain several short works that may be appropriate for this purpose, or perhaps the children know other compositions from music class, private music lessons or other such sources.
4. If the class is studying a particular period of history, play music by composers who were active during this time period. For instance, if the subject is 20th century America, the students could listen to works by Aaron Copland and William Grant Still.
5. Pick a "composer of the month" and read his or her biography (available at classicsforkids.com) to the class. Display a picture of this musician on the bulletin board. During the month, play music by the composer during quiet time, reading time, as children enter the classroom in the morning, etc. Also available at the Classics for Kids® website are 6-minute-long radio shows that talk about various classical composers and their work. These could be played each week at an appropriate time.
6. Brief pieces of classical music can be played during classroom breaks, perhaps as you change from one subject to another or to indicate the end of silent reading time. Repetition of a piece is good; if a child hears the same music several times, he will start to memorize it. Be sure you identify the work and the composer.
7. It's fun to dance, march and exercise to classical music. Use Classics for Kids® pieces such as theGalop by Kabalevsky, the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka by Strauss or Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5 for this purpose.
8. Classical music provides a great way of teaching math patterns. Ask students to identify recurring themes in the piano pieces of Robert Schumann, for example. Use flash cards with the letters A, B, C etc. to identify these motifs. Divide the class into groups and give each a card, which can be displayed when the appropriate music is heard. You can also assign a particular movement—clapping, jumping, waving, etc.—to each theme.
Do you have any activities such as the above that you use to bring classical music alive in your classroom? Let us know by sending your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.