Thursday, April 22 marks the 51st year that Earth Day has been celebrated around the globe to demonstrate support for environmental protection. As Spring brings warmer temperatures, Earth Day creates a good opportunity to use nature as a backdrop for teaching children’s music classes.
From Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee to Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, throughout time humans have been celebrating nature with music. Some of the earliest recorded songs are a tribute to seasons and weather, not to mention traditional folk and tribal songs that have been sung since the earliest languages. Today, humans continue to celebrate nature through music, and Earth Day presents a good opportunity for teachers of children’s music programs to weave nature into their curriculum:
Ideas for Using Nature to Teach Children Music
- Teach Music Classes Outdoors – As we receive guidelines for safely returning to the classroom, there are many outdoor options for resuming in-person music instruction. Children, just as the rest of us, are looking for excuses to get outside and play!
- Listen to the Music of Nature – Whether using actual sounds outdoors or recordings, getting children to quietly listen to sounds of nature will not only give them an appreciation for the environment, but also teach them how to be still and pay better attention. It may be birdsongs, the wind through the leaves, or a babbling brook that will help train them to concentrate on an isolated sound.
- Imitate Nature, in Both Movement and Music – Children love to imitate things in nature, especially animals. They will get great enjoyment out of hopping and croaking like a frog, or flapping and clucking like a chicken. Teach rhythm and time through a fun activity by asking them to do this while music plays.
- Repurpose and Reuse Through Music – A great way to teach children responsibility for the environment while having a great time with music is to build simple instruments with recycled items. Ask them to bring a few, clean recyclables from home to make musical instruments such as shakers, Maracas, drums, Tamborines, and even Xylophones.
- Children’s Songs about Nature – There is no shortage of children’s songs that celebrate nature and environmental responsibility. Many of us have grown up with traditional, nature themed songs such as Itsy Bitsy Spider, Be Kind to Your Web Footed Friends, or The Green Grass Grows All Around. There is even a trove of newer children’s songs that focus directly on teaching about taking care of the environment. Some children’s music curricula even devote entire lesson plans to nature and the environment.
What Earth Day Can Teach Children About Music
Everyone can agree that being good stewards of our environment is important for the long-term health and well-being of humankind. With all these fun activities that teach children about how nature and music go hand in hand, consider mentioning that nature is not something that should be taken for granted. Empower music students with simple suggestions on how they may help make a difference in taking care of our environment, such as recycling and throwing trash away properly.