News Post

Second Graders Rescue a Baby Dragon
Second Graders Rescue a Baby Dragon
sorfanakis
Did you know that rescuing a baby dragon is a part of the second grade curriculum? Well, not literally, but musically it is, and this is how. In the book "My Father's Dragon" by Ruth Stiles Gannett, Elmer, the central character, rescues a baby dragon as he walks through the jungle meeting a lion, tigers, a gorilla, monkeys, and hungry crocodiles. The second graders adapted the story with rhythmic and melodic patterns, creating and composing their own songs and sound effects, to develop a unique and playful performance.

Did you know that rescuing a baby dragon is a part of the second grade curriculum? Well, not literally, but musically it is, and this is how. In the book “My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannett, Elmer, the central character, rescues a baby dragon as he walks through the jungle where he also meets a lion, tigers, a gorilla, monkeys, and hungry crocodiles. With the guidance of music teacher, Cindy Hall our second graders adapted this story with rhythmic and melodic patterns, creating and composing their own songs and sound effects, to develop a unique and playful performance.

The music program in the Lower School encourages each student to actively engage in the process of creative music making. Through singing, dancing, and playing percussion instruments, students learn to express their ideas and emotions with original compositions. Students began this project by learning the traditional Lewis Carroll poem, “How Doth the Little Crocodile,” which they spoke and played on drums. Through imitation and exploration, students worked successfully to figure out a melody on the xylophones and enthusiastically assisted each other to master the new melody. Rhythm patterns were created using the crocodile types of Nile (half note), Cuban (two quarter notes), and Orinoco (two sets of eighth notes), which were acted out through crocodile-like crawling movements and speech. In small groups, students notated their 8-beat rhythmic pieces using standard musical notation. To create a contrasting melody, students also learned the poem, “Down in the Jungle,” and worked with partners to improvise and compose a melody in a minor mode.

The final version of the melody was a composite of the melodic ideas shared by students from different classes. To ensure that the jungle sounds were as realistic as possible, each class explored numerous sound effects until they all agreed on the exact sounds of the jungle.

In a final composition project, students created a “B” section melody for their crocodile piece by using a text related to the story: “Tangerina off we go; Free the dragon, don’t be slow!” The most common melody was then used for the performance.

For the performance of the piece for an audience of the peers and their teachers, each student had a music task and ab acting or narrating part with multiple opportunities for stage practice. They practiced and mastered how to speak with volume and clarity on stage, how to turn toward the audience, and how to move around on the stage to assigned places. The result was a unique and playful performance and it all started with second graders chasing a baby dragon!