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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Music Lesson on Emotions: Allie All Along

I was so pleased to come across a new book that is perfect for talking about handling feelings in healthy ways, and use it as a springboard for exploring the ways that music can communicate emotions! I used this lesson very successfully with Kindergarten, but it would work well with younger students and with students up through 2nd grade as well.

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I came across the book Allie All Along by Sarah Lynne Reul a month or so ago and knew I needed it for my kindergarten classes- this book tells the story of a little girl who gets angry and how her older brother helps her work through her feelings and calm down. As he gives her different specific strategies to try and her anger starts to fade, she changes colors from red to yellow to green to blue, and finally back to her normal self, and in each stage the book describes the different stages of anger without making any of them seem dangerous, bad, or unusual.

For my lesson, we first read the book together and discussed times when they have felt angry, and talked about (and even practiced) the different strategies that the author describes in the story to help us deal with anger in healthy ways. Then we talked about different feeling words they know, and how it's normal to feel different ways at different times, and that there are healthy ways to work through them.

Next I told them to listen to a few different songs I picked out and tell me what feeling word they think "matches the music". Here are the pieces I used (but obviously this could be done with a wide range of pieces to match a broad spectrum of emotions):

The students identified all of them almost instantaneously- I had them silently raise their hands, but the majority of them naturally started acting out the feeling with their facial expressions and their bodies as soon as the music started! I just played a few seconds of each one and identified the feeling words with them to make sure they all understood.

Once we had identified the feelings I told them to pretend they were walking somewhere with their families and they were feeling each of these emotions as they walked. I gave them the example that if they were going somewhere and they were happy, they might have a smile on their face and be skipping, but if they were sad they might have a scowl and walk very slowly with their backs hunched over. Then we spread out around the room and I told them to walk in any direction in the designated open space, silently matching the emotion with their faces and movements while the music played.

The students absolutely loved it! I just did it this spring and thought it was a good time of year for this type of lesson as well- we all know tensions can run pretty high this time of year! I think this would also work well as a sub plan. Not only is it a great way to get kids thinking and talking about feelings and healthy ways of expressing and handling them, but it's the perfect early introduction to communicating mood through music. With one class we were able to discuss, at a basic level, how the musical elements helped communicate different moods: the angry music was loud, the sad music was slow, etc.

I love using books to teach lessons, especially with the younger grades! You can find more literature-based lessons in this post. I leave many of these as sub plans, and several of them are among my favorite lessons to teach with my kindergarten and first grade classes every year!

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