Learning Description

Students will expand knowledge about music vocabulary through exploration of The Carnival of the Animals, composed by Camille Saint-Saëns. Students will be able to use key music terms in discussions with their peers and in persuasive writing.


Learning Targets


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"I Can" Statements

“I Can…”

  • I can use musical vocabulary to describe music I hear.

  • I can use musical vocabulary to share my opinion about music.

Essential Questions

  • How can you write to describe and share your opinion about music you hear?


Georgia Standards

Curriculum Standards


ELAGSEKW1 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are “writing” about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is…).


Grade 1: 

ELAGSE1W1 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or the name of the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.


WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards:

Standard 1: English language learners communicate for Social and Instructional purposes within the school setting. 

Standard 2: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Language Arts.


Arts Standards


MKGM.6: Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.

MKGM.10: Moving, alone and with others, to a varied repertoire of music.


Grade 1:

M1GM.6: Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.

M1GM.10: Moving, alone and with others, to a varied repertoire of music.




South Carolina Standards

Curriculum Standards


Standard 1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. 

1.1 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to state the topic and communicate an opinion about it.


Grade 1:

Standard 1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. 

1.1 Explore print and multimedia sources to write opinion pieces that introduce the topic, state an opinion, give a reason for the opinion, and provide a sense of closure.



Arts Standards

Anchor Standard 6: I can analyze music.

Benchmark GM.R NL.6 I can identify contrasts in music.

Benchmark GM.R NM.6 I can identify the elements of music. 


Anchor Standard 7: I can evaluate music.

GM.R NL.7.1 I can listen and respond to music.



Key Vocabulary

Content Vocabulary

  • Opinion writing - A form of writing in which the author expresses their personal views or opinions on a particular topic or issue; it is characterized by the use of persuasive language and supporting arguments to convey the author's stance

Arts Vocabulary

  • Tone color (Timbre) - The quality of sound; component of a sound that causes different instruments to sound different from each other
  • Pitch - Relative highness or lowness of a tone in relation to other tones
  • Tempo - The speed at which a music piece is performed
  • Dynamics - Volume of sound (loudness, quietness)

Movement - A self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form



    • Recording of The Carnival of the Animals composed by Camille Saint-Saëns
    • Book illustrating The Carnival of the Animals
    • Writing paper
    • Chart paper
    • Marker
    • Large pictures of each animal
    • Pencils
    • Pitched percussion instruments (xylophone, tone bars, etc)



    Instructional Design

    Opening/Activating Strategy

    • As a group, have students brainstorm animals they might find at a carnival. If needed, project an image of a carnival for students.
    • Discuss what a carnival is and what animals you might see there. 
    • Have students turn and talk to their neighbor to discuss their favorite animal.


    Work Session

      • Have a recording preset to use the selections of The Carnival of the Animals you want students to hear. Place the large pictures of the animals on chart paper and hang up for students to see.
      • Have students sit in a circle on the floor.
      • Discuss that music has different qualities, including timbre, pitch, tempo, and dynamics. 
        • For example, small animals such as a bird or frog may make soft, high-pitched, thin or shrill sounds, while larger animals like an alligator may make loud, low-pitched, thick or rumbling sounds.
        • Play two different sounds that demonstrate the difference in high and low pitch (use pitched percussion instruments or recordings of pitched percussion instruments if possible).
        • Discuss the sounds that animals make using these musical terms. Playing audio clips may be helpful. 
      • After the students understand the different types of sound, play the first selection from The Carnival of the Animals.
      • Have students stand under the picture of the animal that they think matches the sounds. 
        • Have students move like the animal would move. 
        • Ask students to explain why they chose the animal that they did.
        • Ask students to describe the music using the terms timbre, pitch, tempo, and dynamics; write the words students say on chart paper.
      • After the animal has been identified, read the passage of the book that matches the animal and discuss qualities of the animal that are illustrated by the music.
      • Repeat this process for the other animals.
      • When all the music has been played, tell students to select their favorite animal from the music and book, The Carnival of the Animals
        • Kindergarten will use a combination of drawing, dictating and writing to convey their opinions. Encourage students to support their opinion with one to two reasons why they chose that animal.
        • First grade will convey their opinions through writing. Students should be sure to provide closure to their writing after they have stated their opinions and at least one reason for their opinions.
        • Students should use at least one musical term (timbre, pitch, tempo, and/or dynamics) in their opinion writing.


      Closing Reflection

      Allow students to share their opinions with the class. Establish agreed-upon guidelines for sharing and listening.



      Teachers will assess students’ understanding by observing students’ responses during class discussion, students’ identification of the animals in The Carnival of the Animals using musical vocabulary, and students’ discussion of their favorite animals and reasons for their opinions.





      • Students can use musical vocabulary to describe music they hear.
      • Students can use musical vocabulary to share their opinions about music through drawing, dictating, and writing.




      • Students can choose a new animal and create a musical composition to represent its characteristics using musical vocabulary.
      • Once students have picked their favorite animal from The Carnival of Animals, they will conduct research (through internet or book resources) to gather factual information about their animal to include in their opinion writing. Gifted Assessments Students will use mechanics to develop persuasive writing that includes facts and opinions.


      • ESOL Modifications and Adaptations: ESOL teachers will conduct a mini lesson on opinions and persuasion, allowing students to role play (ex: persuading their parents for an extra cookie or staying up later on a school night).

      • Special Education Modifications and Adaptations: Ask each student to name their favorite animal from the story. Record responses using a tally chart and ask students to identify the animal with the greatest number of votes. Work in small groups or as a whole to list attributes of the animal with the greatest amount of votes. Correlate the attributes to the musical vocabulary and then use the attributes to write or dictate two to three sentences about the animal.



      • Recordings and illustrated books of The Carnival of the Animals are commercially available. One example is Saint-Saens, C. & Turner, B. C. (1998). Carnival of the animals. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co. 
      • Audio recordings of the various movements are available through streaming online music sites like http:// (search: Carnival of the Animals).
      • Full recording and descriptions of each of the 14 movements: http://
      • The Carnival of the Animals Animal Sound Clips from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
      • Ballet company performances of The Carnival of the Animals:

      *This integrated lesson provides differentiated ideas and activities for educators that are aligned to a sampling of standards. Standards referenced at the time of publishing may differ based on each state’s adoption of new standards.

      Ideas contributed by: Sandi Evans. Modifications, Extensions, and Adaptations Contributed by: Peggy Barnes, Candy Bennett, Lindsey Elrod, Jennifer Plummer, and Vilma Thomas. Reviewed by Emily Threlkeld. Updated by Maribeth Yoder-White.

      Revised and copyright:  June 2024 @ ArtsNOW