Lesson Plans for MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS level P

Text Type:
Nonfiction / Informational Text

Reading Level:

Word Count:


Text Summary
Musical Instruments introduces the reader to various types of musical instruments. Well-known Western instruments, as well as examples of instruments from around the world, are included. Children will readily recognize familiar instruments, such as the piano and violin. They will also have great fun showing off their new vocabulary to family members. For example, can anyone guess where the gusle is played?

Lesson Objectives
Reading Strategies
Children should use a variety of strategies to determine word meaning and comprehend text. The targeted strategy for this lesson is: Classifying and organizing information for recall.
The table of contents and section headings should be used to help children locate information. Rereading and summarizing after each section reinforces the organization and content of the categories.

Word and Print Skills
Sight word techniques to teach words from other languages

Word Work
Using commas in series
Specialized nouns

You will likely address a number of comprehension skills as children work to understand the text. The targeted comprehension strategy for this lesson is: Classification.

Visual Learning
Read one section of the book and then ask children to look at the pictures and identify features of the instruments.

Targeted Vocabulary Words
Content Words
1. strings; 2. woodwinds; 3. brass; 4. percussion; 5. keyboard

Examples for each of the above:
1. cello, violin, viola, double bass, harp; 2. flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon; 3. trumpet, horn, trombone, tuba; 4. xylophone, drums; 5. piano, organ

Instruments from around the world
mandolin, Native American flute, panpipes, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, lute, castanets, African drum,
Taiko drum (pronounced tie-ko), kalimba or thumb piano (pronounced ka-lim-ba), gusle (pronounced gus-le, or gus-la), koto (pronounced ko-to), shekere or beaded shaker (pronounced shek a-ray), sitar (pronounced sit-ar)

amplifier, bow, orchestra

Before Reading

Building Background
Everybody likes music and children will know common instruments. Some will probably be taking music lessons or have family members who play instruments. Encourage children to share these experiences with their classmates. The new content of this book includes the classification of instruments into five categories of strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, and keyboard. Instruments of the world also offer a chance to explore new vocabulary. The orchestra and various kinds of bands provide examples of how the instruments could be grouped together to produce different kinds of music.

Consult the school’s music teacher for resources that highlight some of the instruments that children will read about.

Introducing the Book

Before passing out the books, show children the front and back cover of the book. Ask: What do you see on the covers? What do you think the book will tell us about musical instruments? Say: We may not know the names of the special musical instruments on the cover, but they remind us of some familiar instruments. Ask: What are some of the musical instruments that you know? Turn to the title page and ask: How does the musician use this musical instrument to make music?

Book Walk
Pass out the book and have children scan the book with you to learn the important features of book structure.
  • Table of contents—Ask: If you wanted to read about musical instruments from other countries which page would you turn to? (page 19)
  • Section headings, pages 4, 6, 8, 16, 19, 26—Say: Notice how the title of Orchestras is the same in the table of contents and section heading.
  • Bold face terminology—Ask: Can you quickly find the word woodwind(s)? This word appears twice on page 11, and once on pages 12, 13, 16, 17, and 20. Say: Notice that bold face terminology is easier to see. It is a signal for an important word.
  • Visuals—Ask: How will the pictures help you understand the text?
  • Glossary—Say: The glossary is an aid to learn new vocabulary. Turn to page 26 and look at the definition of bow in the glossary, then look at the visual on page 9.

Reading Strategies
Tell children they will spend several days reading and the text will be divided into sections.
They will make a chart to help them remember and understand the different instruments.

Show children a familiar instrument (for example, toy drum, guitar). Ask: What is the name of this instrument? What is it made of? How do you play it? What kind of sound does it make? What type of instrument is it? Say: As you read the book, ask yourself these questions about the pictures that you see. Ask: How will the pictures in this book help us to remember what we read?

Think aloud strategy: Say: There are some new nouns in this book. First look at the new word and the picture. Close your eyes for a moment and remember the picture and the word and say the word to yourself. Open your eyes and look at both again

During Reading

Student Reading
Divide the reading up into sections. Children should read one section at a time and fill out each section of the worksheet/chart as they read. Ask questions, have a discussion, and complete the appropriate segment of the chart as a group, then move to the next section.

  • Have children read the introduction on pages 4–5.
  • Ask: What are some of the ways that the first humans made music?
  • Experiment with everyday objects to make music (for example, frying pan lid, empty oatmeal box, glass pop bottle).
  • Have children search the classroom and experiment with objects to make music.
  • Have children read the text under the heading Instruments on pages 6–7.
  • Ask: Each instrument has its own personality. (page 6) What does this mean?
  • Show 10–12 minutes of Walt Disney’s Fantasia and ask children to comment on the different sounds they heard (for example, loud, soft, harsh). What feelings did they experience? (for example, happiness, excitement, etc.).
  • Have children read the text under the heading Orchestras on page 8.
  • Ask: Do you think the man on page 8 is playing an instrument? If not, what could he be doing? Why is the conductor’s job important?
  • Introduce the worksheet and instruct children to complete it as they read.
  • Have children read the text under the heading Strings on pages 9–10.
  • Have them fill in the worksheet.
  • Complete the string section of the worksheet together as a class.
  • If possible, bring in a guitar and allow children to pluck the strings. Discuss the features of the instrument, such as the material, the width, and tension of the string.
  • Have children read the text under the heading Woodwinds on pages 11–12 and do the worksheet.
  • Ask: Look at the flute on page 11 and the clarinet on page 12. How does the musician hold the instruments? What does he/she do with his/her fingers to make the music?
  • Have children read the brass section on page 13 and do the worksheet.
  • Have children read about percussion instruments on page 14 and do the worksheet.
  • Ask: What kinds of materials are used to make percussion instruments? What kinds of sounds might these different materials make?
  • Have children read about keyboard instruments on page 15 and do the worksheet.
  • Review the entire chart.
  • Have children read pages 16–18.
  • Ask: What are the six different kinds of bands mentioned in the book? Which instruments might be in those different bands?
  • Have children read pages 19–23.
  • Ask: What are some of the different instruments from around the world?
  • Review several of the pictures on pages 19–23 and ask children how the instruments might be played, and how they might sound.
  • Have children read pages 24–25.
  • Ask: What is the meaning of quartet? (Refer to page 24 and have children guess again if no one knows the meaning of quartet.) What do the four musicians do in the quartet?
  • Encourage children to talk about the pleasure of singing and teach/sing the song "Do, Re, Mi" (from The Sound of Music / www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/doremi.htm for lyrics).
  • Have children complete worksheet number 1.

After Reading

Comprehending the Text
Musical Instruments provides an excellent opportunity to teach the skill of classification. Use these questions and activities to reinforce what children have learned about classifications of instruments.

  • Instruments
    page 6—What are six different kinds of sounds that instruments might produce?
    page 7—The sound produced by an instrument depends on five things. What are they?
    page 17—What are some different kinds of bands?
  • Write an outline of the empty chart on the blackboard and have children fill in the blanks
    from memory.
  • International Instruments
    Ask children to name as many of the international instruments as they can from memory,
    and list them on the board. Then consult the book to complete the list.

Expand on the Reading

Writing Connection
Have children design and draw their own imaginary (or real) instrument. Ask them to name the instrument and write a short paragraph. They may include such information as the classification; whether it is played in a band, orchestra, or by itself; how it is played; what it is made of; or the type of sound it produces.

Social Studies Connection
Musical Instruments can be integrated into the social studies curriculum. Invite a guest to come and play an instrument that originates from a different part of the world. If the guest agrees, encourage children to ask questions about the music and how it contributes to the culture. With permission, the children might touch the instrument. Alternatively, use a tape/CD that features music produced by one of the international instruments included in the book. Encourage children to dance, sing, or clap to the music.

Reading Independently
Have children read the book independently or with a partner. You can also encourage them to read other books of their choice at the appropriate level.
Have children choose one of the following (or discover one independently) and suggest they try to find information in an encyclopedia, dictionary, or on the Internet. Pictures of other instruments from around the world can be found at www.ashmol.ox.ac.uk/BCMIPage.html
Didgeridoo — Australia
Ocarina — Latin America
Shakuhachi flute — China and Japan
Friction block — Papua New Guinea and Australia
Rebab — North Africa and the Middle East
Tontorentzi — Peru
Balalaika — Russia
Psaltery (a type of dulcimer) — many places around the world
Gamelan orchestra — Indonesia (a collection of percussion instruments)
Tabla — India
Saron — Japan

Home Connection
Send the book home to be read to or with family members. The family can watch Walt Disney’s Fantasia and then discuss the music and the film.

  • Monitor children’s responses in the Comprehending the Text section to assess how well they understand the text or story.
  • Monitor reading to see if children are using the effective reading strategies.
  • Assess children’s knowledge of classification of instruments, use of commas in a series, and sight reading words from foreign languages.

Review the worksheets and written assignments for accuracy of facts, use of commas in series, and new vocabulary.

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