Hope Hudson

Lesson Plan ­ Grade 5




Students will:


The purpose of this lesson is to introduce children to opera and its vocabulary.


Video and or Audio Recorder, CD Player, Midi Keyboard with Sibelius or Finale, Notation Paper, Laptop.


As students are entering the room, have the childrenıs opera ³The Quest² by Maeve Ingoldsby and Colin Mawby, playing.  Point out that there are two blanks in the opera where students are invited to create the music and text. (This was part of the Childrenıs Opera Project).

Discuss basic vocabulary such as piano, forte, crescendo, decrescendo, recitative, aria, and libretto.

Read The Emperorıs New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen, to the students. Have the students jot down any words, phrases, or events that would be good to present in an opera of the story, and share their observations with the class. Record the observations on the board.

Have one student improvise a melody to sing to one of the words or phrases. Record the melody using notation software. Another student should create a movement to go with the words, phrase, or event. Have the whole class copy the tune, the tone, and the movement. Divide the class into sections. Have each section perform the tune and movement when pointed to, much like an orchestra performing for a conductor. Point to a section to indicate that the section should begin. A raise of the hand indicates louder sound and movement, and when the hand is lowered the sound and movement should decrease. Many sections can come in and out at the same time. Try not to do it in sequential order.


Select six of the most important words, phrases, or events that retell The Emperorıs New Clothes. Arrange these words, phrases, and events in sequential order to retell the story. Divide the class into six groups. Assign jobs to the members of the group. All students should contribute to writing the libretto. If some groups donıt have five members, drop one or two jobs. The jobs are:


Ask students to write down three things they have learned about opera. Take time to share the information and misconceptions with the class. Have each student make an opera vocabulary list to share with the class.


Have groups present their recitatives in sequential order to tell the story of The Emperorıs New Clothes while you tape the class on an audio or video tape. Groups should hand in all written material with each member's name and his/her job on the recitative. Each non-performing class member evaluates the presenting group. 


Have students listen to excerpts from an opera such as Amahl and the Night Visitor or Where the Wild Things Are.

After listening to the selection, have students try to identify it as an aria, a recitative, or an ensemble piece.  Have students come up with other stories that might make an enjoyable opera for their age group.  Have them choose one paragraph from the story and compose a simple melody for a recitative. By the end of the next two classes, all should have performed their compositions in class.