Magic Forest

I’ll be doing a series of posts that revisit some lesson plans, games, and ideas that I’ve posted about before on the blog.  I will be making a little change with them as I’ll be adding the appropriate NGSSS that matches the lesson.  The reason for this is that I’m receiving many emails from colleagues saying that they don’t understand the NGSSS or they don’t know how to go about formatting their lessons.

My general answer is, keep doing what you’re doing! If you’re teaching using the Orff process, you are most likely good to go, you may just need to employ some more higher level thinking skills in the classroom.  If you’re new to the process, this is a great time to get involved.  The point of the NGSSS is that the students are doing the creating, improvising, analyzing, and critiquing. Music teaching is not about standing in front of the room and lecturing about Bach and the notes on the staff, music teaching using the NGSSS is about creating a classroom environment where your students feel safe making music.  Here we go!

Magic Forest: Playful Practice (voices, recorders, body percussion, small percussion):

*From my session at FMEA

This experience is perfect for all grades, all abilities, all situations, and is a favorite among my students.  What makes this experience magical is that the students have a safe environment to explore and create.  It provides them an arena in which they can practice, take risks, and feel like part of the classroom community.

  • Read a story about the forest as a class. Discuss the sounds that you hear in the forest (animals, bird calls, insects, weather, etc…).  I found the book Forest Bright, Forest Night by Jennifer Ward (ISBN: 1-58469-067-4) to be a helpful resource.
  • Allow students to create their own sounds with voices, bodies, recorders, or assorted percussion instruments.
  • Students select their favorite sound, share with a neighbor/small group/class (allow students to imitate sounds from other students).



Today we are transforming this classroom into Queen Berra’s Magical Forest. At the sound of my bell, you will be part of the forest community.  You will need to find a safe place in the room where you can be the tree/animal/insect/etc… that you are making a sound for. I’m going to walk around the room with my wand.  When I get close to you, you are allowed to make your sound.  Remember, you must please the Queen! When I go farther away from you, you must stop your sound and listen to other sounds in the forest.  The Queen is looking for forest creatures who would like to take a turn being a member of the Royal Family.  If the Queen signals you that she finds your sound pleasing, you may be allowed to walk around the forest as a member of the Royal Family.


  • Turn on a CD of forest-like, nature music in the background, dim the lights, and watch your students relish the joy of playful practice with whatever instruments or sounds you have available! It’s magical!


  • You may wish to explore notation for rhythms or melodies with this experience. Bird calls are a great way to practice E-G on recorder.


MU.2.C.1.3   Classify unpitched instruments into metals, membranes, shakers, and wooden categories.

MU.2.S.3.4  Compare aural melodic patterns with written patterns to determine whether they are  the same or different.

MU.2.S.3.5  Show visual, gestural, and traditional representation of simple melodic patterns   performed by someone else.

MU.2.F.1.1 Create a musical performance that brings a story or poem to life.

MU.3.S.1.1 Improvise rhythms or melodies over ostinati.

MU.3.S.3.5  Notate simple rhythmic and melodic patterns using traditional notation.

MU.3.H.1.1   Compare indigenous instruments of specified cultures.

MU.3.F.1.1   Enhance the meaning of a story or poem by creating a musical interpretation using   voices, instruments, movement, and/or found sounds.

MU.3.F.3.1  Collaborate with others to create a musical presentation and acknowledge individual  contributions as an integral part of the whole.


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