Literacy, Science, and Music: Poetry with First Grade

Last spring, teachers, students, and families gathered in the orchestra room at the Lower School for a festive Friday Finale to celebrate an interdisciplinary lesson that touched on Science, English Language Art, and Musical learning. Once everyone was settled in, Josh Garver, the Resident Artist for Grades 1 & 2, kicked off the festivities.

Along with their academic teachers, students in Grade 1 wrote poems based on their observation and study of the sun, moon, and stars. Students used what they learned about the patterns made by celestial bodies to think about what the sun “sees” every day as the earth spins. They wrote narrative poems with a beginning, middle, and end, adding detail about where the sun was in the sky and how it looked.

Based on the students’ poems, the Aretha Franklin Orchestra worked with Mr. Garver to create three pieces of music with a beginning, middle, and end that highlighted a particular time of day.

For the first poem, the students agreed that birds wake up at dawn when the sun is on the horizon. When the sun rises in the sky, different kinds of birds sing to each other. As the sun gets higher, all kinds of birds join in and they make noise all at once.

The students explored the chatter of the birds in the morning by creating a piece of music that followed the pattern: one at a time, taking turns, then all at once.

See their composition by visiting this link:

Text of the poem in the video:

It is dawn.
The sun looks yellow.
The sun in the sky is on the horizon.
The sky looks blue.
The sun sees me getting ready for school.
I wake up.
I leave for school.

Students in each of the three Grade 1 classes picked one time of day and one poem to work on. The other two student-devised compositions focused on the middle of the day and the evening. During the middle of the day, students play games, and the orchestra did a bow-pointing game of tag, which they titled “Tag.” At the end of the day, as the sun is setting, students talked about taking the bus home and looking out the window. Each section of the orchestra created a motif to represent different traffic patterns as vehicles stop, go, and horns honk. This composition was called “Traffic on the Bus.”

The students reveled in getting to share their hard work with the audience and families and staff were thrilled to experience the fantastic interdisciplinary work of our students.

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