Students in first, second, and third grade have been listening to and learning about Danse Macabre by French composer Camille Saint Saens. Danse Macabre is French for “Dance of the Dead.” Perfect for the Halloween season!! We have learned (or reviewed) that a composer is someone who makes up a song and writes it down using music notes. We also discuss that music can tell a story, and that many songs have “themes” in them. Danse Macabre, for us, has a “skeleton theme” and a “ghost theme.” The ghost theme is smooth and soaring, like a ghost moaning and flying. The skeleton theme is chopping and bumpy, like a skeleton’s rattling bones! Sometimes the skeleton theme is even accompanied by a xylophone, to imitate the sound of bones.
In first and second grade, students listen to the song and place velcro-backed pieces onto a map of the piece as we listen. In third grade, students each have their own individual “board game” of the song, and they use a bingo chip to keep track of where we are in the piece as we listen. In second and third grade, we have watched a real orchestra playing the piece!
Students in Mrs. Hayne’s second grade class watch a real orchestra play Danse Macabre and do their movements along with the music.
Students in 3rd grade reviewed the “proper names” for many music notes and rests, and then practiced drawing them by using them to create jack-o-lanterns. On the back of each Jack-o-Lantern, students filled in a chart to show which four notes/rests they used, what the “proper name” for each note or rest was, and how many beats each note or rest gets.
Students in third and fourth grade played the singing game “Draw Me a Bucket of Water.” The tune and lyrics go like this:
Four students start out by two holding hands standing across from each other, and the other two holding hands over the first two students hands. While singing the song, students walk in a circle to the steady beat. Each time you sing the song, you increase the number IN the bunch and decrease the number OUT the bunch. Every time you increase the number IN the bunch, one student goes “under” into the inner part of the students arms, until everyone is in the bunch! At the end we all shout “FROG IN THE BUCKET! HOP HOP HOP!” four times, and everyone has to hop on the “hops”! The rule is we have to sing it in our nicest singing voices (and of course you can’t sing while laughing) but luckily you CAN sing while smiling, and everyone definitely smiles during this activity!