Fall is a wonderful time when all the leaves are turning colors. I was worried that this year in Ohio we would miss out on the beautiful colors because of how hot it was for so long this year. But luckily, we just pushed our fall back a couple weeks and are now enjoying the beauty around us. This means it is the perfect time to do my Leaf Man lesson in 1st grade. I originally saw this lesson from Marjie Van Gunten and have adapted it throughout the years to what is below.
This book has gorgeous pictures of all different things made out of leaves. Having students make their own pictures from leaves, in combo with the art teacher, is another lesson for another day. Today, I am focusing on the phrase in the story “A Leaf Man’s Got To Go Where The Wind Blows”. It happens at least 3 times, and when I’m reading the story I add an extra one at the end.
After reading through the book, I emphasize that phrase and have the students repeat it back to me. Then we practice singing it all on 1 pitch, and then again on a lower pitch. My students then recognize this as So and Mi. You can just do High/Low pitches if your students haven’t named the solfege yet. Then we work together to come up with how the whole phrase would go using So and Mi. I printed out the words and cut them apart. I ask the students which ones should be So and which should be Mi. It gets tricky sometimes depending on how they adjust the notes, but we talk about it and come up with different ways to say it.
The next day I bring back the phrase and settle on a specific way to sing it. It is different for each class and each year; usually picking the composition the students seemed to do the best at singing. I choose a couple students to play a bordun on the pitched instruments while the rest of us sing the So-Mi melody:
Finally, on the 3rd day we talk about the leaf man blowing in the wind. We re-read or recall all the different things he flies over and sees along his journey. I bring out some extra un-pitched percussion instruments (wind chimes, maracas, hand drums, sandblocks, etc.) to add accompaniments sounds to the wind blowing through the book. Then we divide the students into 3 groups:
- Unpitched instruments doing sound effects for wind
- Pitched instruments playing So/Mi or Bordun
- Singers who also move in the wind according to the book
I read through the book a final time. The singers/movers act out the book while the sound effects produce the wind for them. I add a few more of the “Leaf Man’s got to go” lines than are written so that the pitched instruments have more chances to play. Depending on the class and the time left in my room, we may rotate and do it again, or just leave it as one final performance. Everyone has done every part up until this point so they have had the chance, just putting it together for 1 performance is good sometimes!
Need the book for your classroom: A Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
Check out my lesson plan and feel free to use in your classroom: Leaf Man