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Ideas for Carnival of the Animals

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Mother elephant and baby elephant walking

Looking for ideas for teaching “Carnival of the Animals” by Saint-Saëns? In this blog post, I'm detailing five ideas for integrating this unit into your music lessons!

Virtual Classroom

A few months ago, my friend and colleague Sarah passed on this “Carnival of the Animals” virtual classroom, created by her friend Schuyler Pietz. My students have really enjoyed it, and with Schuyler's permission, I'm sharing it with you! Click the image below to force a copy to your drive (and go ahead and swap out the Bitmoji!)

"Aquarium" movement with Scarf

If you are looking for a movement activity which students can do virtually and/or socially distanced, check out this video, by Jennifer from Sing to Kids! Students can use a scarf or another object to follow the arrows and objects on the screen, along with “The Aquarium” from “Carnival of the Animals.” My students had a lot of fun with it, and it was a wonderful way to introduce them to this piece!

"Aquarium" Movement with Glow Sticks

Here's another movement activity for “The Aquarium.” I used the first video to teach the choreography, from John Feierabend's “Move It,” and then I had my third graders perform the movement with glow sticks, in the second video. When performing, students had one white glove with a glow stick underneath the glove, with the lights off. It was a really cool effect for a performance!

Listening Lessons

To improve students' musical literacy, you could teach rhythmic and melodic concepts through pieces from “Carnival of the Animals.” For example, you could practice the interval mi-do with “Cuckoo,” and the rhythm ti-tika, or one eighth/ two sixteenth notes, with “Fossils.” This set below was created in Google Slides for “Fossils”; students can complete virtually or in person!

"Carnival of the Animals" Set

If you are looking for more for “Carnival of the Animals,” check out this set, which includes slideshows, activities, bulletin board visuals, and more!

What are your favorite ways to use “Carnival of the Animals”? Feel free to comment below, and happy listening and teaching!

One Response

  1. Here are some of my favorite activities with Carnival of the Animals:
    Everything pantomimed.
    Lions: prowl then go on hind legs and “roar” (silently) with each roar in the music.
    Personages with long ears: on all fours, kick with back legs on each hee-haw.
    Hens and roosters: peck around barnyard, stop and lay an egg with each pause.
    Aquarium: swim. Listen and move to the flows and descending motion.
    Fossils: Night at the museum. They are all dinosaur skeletons that come to life and dance each time the A section plays. When the B and C sections play, I am a visitor who walks through the museum and admires the various (frozen) dinosaurs.
    Elephants: slow moving with “trunks” swinging from side to side occasionally stopping to sting and bathe at the water hole.
    Kangaroos: hop when the music hops, then look through the tall grasses for predators when the music slows.
    Tortoises: how slow can you go?
    Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods: students close eyes and “sit on a branch.” The imagine a forest in the early morning and echo the cuckoo’s call each time they hear it.

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