This is my second book recommendation this month! With no singing allowed under strict covid-19 restrictions, I’ve been diving into more books. Bill Martin, Jr.’s Listen to the Rain provided a great backdrop for my Pre-Kindergarten classes to explore all the different timbres in our music room.
We started with a few lessons of free exploration using the instruments. After they had tried the different kinds of instruments, the children sorted the instruments based on how they made sound: shaking instruments, tapping instruments, and scraping instruments. (Of course, many of the instruments could be played in different ways, and I let them go with their own ideas.) After reading Listen to the Rain, the students thought about how a rainstorm gets louder and then quieter. We did the thing that everyone does, where you go around the room making the body percussion rainstorm. Then the students made the connection to the instruments: We could use the different instruments sounds like we made different sounds with our hands and feet!
We decided this should be carefully planned, so I put together a planning sheet for them and asked them to explore the instruments again, but with this specific purpose in mind. Students drew one or two instruments that they thought would best represent each stage of the rainstorm.
As we had missed our performance opportunity this year, we decided to practice and record our rainstorm. I went over each class’s sheet and assigned students to each stage of the rainstorm. In the next lesson, the students sat in their groups with their instruments, and we learned about how conductors can cue musicians to start, stop, get louder, or get quieter. We listened to each section, gave each other feedback, and finally put it together. It was wonderful to see how much thought and reflection these four- and five-year-olds were putting into their soundscape. After a lot of refining and rehearsing, we recorded our soundscape and edited it into a video using pictures and verses from the book. The children were so proud of themselves when they watched their performance.
Some of the quieter instruments the students chose were egg shakers and the wave drum. As the storm became stronger, they moved into the kokiriko and caxixi. The thunderstorm came with cabanas and shekeres, and when the storm ended and the rainbow came out, we ended with the beautiful sounds of a kalimba and a triangle. Check out some of the instruments we used below!
I will definitely use this book again with the students! It all flowed so naturally, right from the children’s minds. I hope I can find more books like this. What books do you use with your children, that really get their creative minds working?