Literature, Movement

Children’s Books & Music: Carnival of the Animals

I love doing Carnival of the Animals in first grade.  I use Carnival of the Animals to teach concepts like fast/slow, loud/soft and high/low. It also gives the first-graders a chance to learn how to listen to music and analyze it. Sometimes I also add in some extra “animal” lessons that aren’t necessarily a part of the book, but fit with the theme.  I have my lesson ideas available for FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store: Carnival of the Animals Unit

The Aquarium

   While listening to the aquarium from Carnival of the animals I have the students imitate my movement using scarves. They follow my scarf up-and-down side to side and around as per how the music sounds. We then discussed how the scarves moved to the music. What directions did they go and why. We listen again to the song this time having the students do the movement themselves while listening to the piece.

    Next we switch from scarves to my cute little fish sticks. I purchased these from my Orff chapter’s boutique. Each student gets a fish stick and sits facing the board. I project an image of the aquarium listening map. I have the students fish sticks follow along with my fish as we go through the listening map. Then each student gets their own listening map to use and they have their fishes follow along the listening map.

The Kangaroo

     The process for the kangaroo is very similar to the process for the fish. First we start with movement to the song. I have the students go back-and-forth between hopping like a kangaroo and standing still and looking around for other animals, per how the song sounds.  They enjoying creating different scenarios of who the kangaroo is looking for.  Sometimes I have half the class be Kangaroos and let the other half be other animals that the Kangaroo is looking for.

We then move to the listening map. Just like with the Fish, we do the listening map first as a whole class then the students get their own maps to use.  I found my Kangaroo map at  They have some good resources if you are willing to spend the time searching for them, their sit is not very user friendly.  Here is the link to the Kangaroo Listening Map.

The Lion

    Since we have already practiced some listening maps with the Aquarium and Kangaroo, it is now time for my students to help create their own.  For the Lion I start by passing out my “lion sticks”.  I printed out an image of a cartoon lion then taped it onto popsicle sticks.  I have the students listen to the lion piece and follow along with my movements.  My main movements in the song are:  1.  Walking around the kingdom,  2. Roar, and 3.  Searching for scary hyenas.  I base my movements off different parts of the “Lion King” story.  I then have the students identify what the lion was doing when he was performing these different movements.  We then listen to it again, this time I pause the music after the different sections so that my students can count the phrases.  This is important for the next step.  We then put our lions to “sleep” (lay them on the floor).

My students then help me create a listening map for the lion song.  Since they had practice with both the fish and kangaroo they did a very nice job creating different images to show the different phrases and sections of the piece (this is where knowing how many phrases things were came in handy).  We worked through half of the piece and then practice to make sure it worked with the song.  Then we listened to the 2nd half of the song to remind ourselves of what it sounded like before we wrote it out on the map.  Here are the 5 different finished projects from my classes:


Tortoise & Hare:

I love using the Tortoise & Hare story to have students recognize fast and slow beats in music.  We read through the folk story about the T&H and discuss how their music might sound if we added music to the story.  Then the same day or the following day I pass out Turtle and Rabbit cards on popsicle sticks.  We listen to various pieces of music, determining if they would fit the Tortoise or the Hare part of the story.  Students hold up the correct picture to match the music to show their choice.  Sometimes I trick the students and put a song in the mix that might not be so obvious or has a beat in the middle range.

I hope you can use these fun animal lessons in your classrooms!!!  I have my lesson ideas available for FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store: Carnival of the Animals Unit

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