Leprechaun Magic in the Music Room
Ever since Halloween my Sophomore year of college I’ve been fascinated with ways to make music lessons “come alive” to become a full sensory experience. Dr. Butch Marshall brought all the sophomores down to the “creepy basement” that was under construction as part of the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory renovations. He had added black and orange decorations to complete the Halloween experience. Down in the basement we sang Halloween finger plays, children songs, and played games. It was magical. Holidays are often magical times of year. This lesson, based around St. Patrick’s Day, aims to make holiday magic come alive within the music room.
Lesson Age: PK-1
Concepts: Modes, dramatic play, locomotor movement, tonal patterns, rhythm patterns, singing alone and with others, head tone singing, steady beat.
Greet the children with some surprising news. Something like…
Boys and girls, guess what happened this morning? I came to my desk and on my desk I found this. (Hold up a letter.) It is a letter from a leprechaun! Would you like to hear what it says?
Read letter/ Set Up Activity
“Hello children of the music room. My name is Sparkles McFancyPants. I have hidden my pot of gold somewhere in the music room. Your job is to perform a series of challenges with your tour guide (insert teacher’s name) to find the pot of gold. Good luck! Sincerely, Sparkles”
Teacher: Oh, my goodness, what do you think? Should we go look for Sparkles’ pot of gold? Well, I’ve been in the music room all morning and haven’t seen a pot of gold… (thinks) perhaps it is in the magical music room? To get there we have to clap our hands really fast (begin clapping hands) and rub them together (perform action), tap our heads, etc.
Teacher aside: Do these simple actions to set up the follow the leader nature of the game. Do this seated altogether to prepare future gross motor work.
Movement & Music Activities
Teacher: We have been transported to the magical music room! Wow, look over there, it’s a rainbow pond. Let’s swim across it. (Teacher sings a melody in dorian while children swim through space.
Teacher: Phew! We made it. But look over there. Do you see what I see? It looks like tall purple grass. Weird… How should we go through the grass? Do we need to cut it with our machetes? (perform heavy slicing motion with arms while performing an unusual paired meter chant.)
Teacher Aside: Unusual paired could be 5/8 or 7/8. You can also go right into rhythm patterns after completing the challenge.
Teacher: Wow, those grasses revealed a dark cave. Let’s go through it. (Teacher sings a melody in Aeolian while children tiptoe through the cave).
Teacher Aside: Okay, now somewhere within the cave it starts getting more and more narrow until the children are crawling on their stomachs. At this point I (the teacher) sometimes turn into the silly cave troll who will not let them pass until they perform tonal patterns. If you have just sung a melody in Aeolian, tonal patterns in Aeolian would also be appropriate.
Cave Troll (AKA Teacher): Well hello children. Welcome to my cave. If you want to pass, you must repeat after me… (Perform tonal patterns either to individual students or to whole group. Allow for wait time before students echo.)
Cave Troll (AKA Teacher): Wonderful work, children! You may pass through the cave. Goodbye!
Teacher Aside: If you have done a lot of dramatic play work in your classroom students might be able to assist you in coming up with magical challenges. Ex. Gabby, what do you see over there? Will we need our hiking boots to get across?
Teacher: Phew! Glad we made it out of there. But wait, what’s this? Another note? Let’s see what it says…
“Hello again children. Congratulations on making it through the magical music room. Now, to find my pot of gold you must find the door to which the secrets are kept.”
Teacher: Hmm, ‘the door to which the secrets are kept.” Do you guys see any secret doors? Is there a door that we’ve never opened before in this room?
Teacher Aside: We have a few cabinets where we keep class items (manipulatives, crayons, sheet music, etc.). I typically hide the pot of gold in one of those cabinets. Together the students move to one of the cabinets when it is discovered that it is locked, the students must perform rhythm patterns to open the cabinet. When they do the cabinet opens and voila! Pot of gold. I put a few shiny dollar store mints in a small box. The students know not to touch the treasure of a leprechaun or they will be cursed to only be able to find one sock instead of the pair for the rest of their lives.
Teacher: Wow! Look it’s a real pot of gold! But wait… It seems to be locked. It won’t open. Perhaps Sparkles mentioned something about this in the note… “Congratulations on finding the pot of gold. Now you must only sing my favorite song to open the treasure.”
Teacher Aside: I use the same note throughout the game but continue to change the words as my students are not yet readers when I play this game. And if they can read, I show them the note so quickly that they don’t have time to figure out what is truly written on the paper.
Teacher Aside: Gather the students on a rug or in a circle to settle. I typically sing “Molly Malone” as it is a slow song that also works for resting music. If there’s time you can also do Rattlin’ Bog, Irish Washerwoman, etc.
Teacher: Okay, do you think that worked? Was that Sparkles favorite song? Wow! The treasure opened!
Teacher Aside: Allow each student to see the treasure as they calmly walk to line up for the end of class.