Lesson plan

Teaching Expression with Music

In this lesson, your students will use music and art to visualize emotions and express feelings. They will love using music to practice writing!
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Students will be able to recognize how the sound of music can prompt different emotions and how punctuation and word choice can help authors express how a character is feeling.

(5 minutes)
  • Give your students paper, and have them take out their coloring utensils.
  • Tell your students that they are going to draw what music feels like.
  • Ask your students to come up with examples of how music makes them feel. For example: Does a happy song make you feel happy or sad?
(5 minutes)
  • Tell your students that you are going to turn off the lights.
  • Instruct them to close their eyes, listen to the music playing, move their crayons to the beat of the music as they listen, and draw on the paper what they are feeling.
  • If your students seem confused, demonstrate on the board with an example, or draw in the air with your hand while singing a few tunes. Demonstrate that faster songs will result in more colorful, dotted pages because the beat is faster.
(15 minutes)
  • Direct your students to pick up their coloring utensils in their hands and close their eyes.
  • Then, play about 1 minute of one of the songs you picked.
  • When you stop it, have your students look at what they drew.
  • Follow the previous steps for the remainder of the songs, and instruct your students to use a different color for each song.
(10 minutes)
  • Instruct your students to write a few sentences about how they felt. Potential guiding questions include: How did the happy song make you feel compared to the sad song? Why do you think the upbeat song makes you more excited than the slow song? Encourage them to use comparison words.
  • Enrichment: Instruct your students to label what emotion the song evoked. For example, with an intense or angry song, perhaps the song evoked a feeling of power or eagerness.
  • Support: Ask your students to verbally express how a song made them feel. Encourage them to use hand motions to describe the song, and help them determine which words to use, such as relaxing or scary.
(5 minutes)
  • Look over their pages as you walk around with the song playing to make sure they are taking it seriously and that their strokes follow the rhythm.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students how the music would sound if they were talking for each song. Potential questions include: Would you speak softly? Would you sound happy? Would you be mad?
  • Ask your students how they know when a character is sad or happy. Discuss punctuation and word choice, giving them examples of a character who is really excited (with an exclamation point) and a character who is sad.
  • Talk about how movies have music to help watchers understand how the characters are feeling.

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