Many of you know that I love using children’s literature in my music classroom.  There is so much rich language, rhythm, texture and timbres to be drawn from children’s stories. Every year, I look for the new stories that lend themselves for music instruction.  Here are a few of my favorite children’s stories for elementary music for this spring!


The Listening Walk by Paul Showers
This is sweet story about building a child’s awareness of sounds around them.  As the little girl takes her daily walk with her father, she identifies all of the different sounds around her.  How often we dismiss the sound around us as noise, but this girl hears the beauty of each sound.  I love to read this to my students and ask them to get quiet and identify the sounds in our room.  Even better, take your students on a listening walk through the school or around the school.  Ask them to listen actively and identify sounds around them.  If you want to take it one step further, ask your students to identify two or three sound they heard and notate the sound they heard.  I have a “Listening Walk” worksheet that they use to write, draw, describe their sounds.  After they notate their sounds, I ask each child to perform one sound they heard (e.g. drip, drip, drip) and to repeat it.  We layer 3-4 sounds on top of each other talk about what we heard.  Then we try different combinations of sounds in small groups and perform them for one another.  It’s a great way to build awareness of the sounds/music around us and to introduce texture and layers!

Five Green and Speckled Frogs illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo
I end Kindergarten and First Grade music class with a song story.  A song story is exactly as it sounds.  It’s a folk song that has been illustrated.  Simple, right?  My K-1 classes are 40 minutes in length.  It’s a long instructional period for little ones.  We sing, chant, move, play improvise, but by the last 5-10 minutes, my students are done.  So we end class with a song story.  I’ve never met a student who didn’t love being read to – I just take it one step further and sing it instead of read it. 

Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan

This is such a lovely, sequential story with a repetitive line – “jump, frog, jump!”  I begin by simply reading the story to my students.  Each time “jump, frog, jump” occurs, we sing it using a “do-sol-do” response. The second class, I read the story again and we identify the solfege of the response.  I also introduce the Orff instruments that we’re going to use to transfer our singing part to instruments.  It’s not the first time on the instruments, so a quick review of how to hold mallets and play the instruments is all that is required.  The third class, the students come to a xylophone with a partner.  One partner plays while another observes.  We transfer the “jump, frog, jump” to the bars D and A.  The students practice playing the “do-sol-do” pattern on the bars several times.  Then I retell the story with the students playing the response instead of singing it.  At the end of the story, the person playing teaches the partner every thing they need to know to play, and we retell the story with the second partner.

Marsh Music by Marianne Berkes (instrument exploration, environmental sound)
Do you have a collection of frog and cricket rasps in your room?  And you never quite know what to do with them?  Me too!  I stumbled across this story a few years ago and used it in a music enrichment class.  We used all of our scraper instruments to recreate all the different sounds of the marsh.  I do read the story to students, but I primarily use the pictures to retell/recreate the story musically.  To add to the story, I bought 10 bunches of faux marsh grass at Michaels.  I think each was 57 cents.  The neat thing about the grass is that when students gently shake it, it adds another texture to the sound composition.  The kids love trying all of the different scraper instruments in the music room and creating their own “Marsh Music.”

Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault 
This is hands down my favorite story to use in the music room!  It’s such a great story to read for mallet readiness and dynamics.  I love it so much that I turned my activity into a product for TpT!  You can check it out here!

Do you have a favorite children’s book for spring?  Tell me what it is in the comments!