Index of Lesson Plans and Activities: Grades K-5

Jazzy lessons and activities for K-12 cats

Now and Then: “Learning Through the Duke” (LA)

In a series of three short lessons, your students will learn about the important contributions made by Duke Ellington to the field of jazz, as well as some of the factors that led to his involvement in the field. As the students explore the language of the 1920’s, connections will be drawn between popular expressions and the sounds created in jazz. Your students will craft an original poem using these words and expressions. Finally, your students will have the opportunity to respond to a piece of Duke Ellington’s music through movement and art.

Now and Then: “Chops and Axes – A Jazz Talk Show” (LA, SS)

Students will explore the lives of various jazz musicians. They will become familiar with the social and historical events that were present during the lives of these individuals. They will listen to the music of the artists and become knowledgeable about their styles. This activity will culminate in the production of a news/talk show created and performed by the students highlighting the lives of these musical figures.

Interactive Timeline: “A Jazz History” (LA, MU, SS)

Students will explore ragtime music and gain an understanding of its development in relation to jazz. They will also investigate the historical during the time the genre evolved. They will become familiar with the common form used in ragtime piano pieces (AA BB A CC DD) and the concept of syncopation. Students will understand that syncopation is an element in jazz music. They will listen to ragtime compositions and become familiar with various composers of this genre.

Repeat the Beat: “Tap Your Feet” (MU, MA)
Students will practice following a pattern and become familiar with the concept of beat in music. They will be introduced to tempo. They will gain experience playing the beat on non-pitched rhythm instruments, at various tempos. This activity will culminate in the creation of a rhythm piece.

About the Authors

Tara Hofman (Now and Then: “Chops and Axes,” Jazz Jukebox: “You Have Jazz,” Repeat the Beat: “Tap Your Feet,” Interactive Timeline: “A Jazz History” and Improvisation: “Can You Hear a Story.”)

Tara Hofmann has been teaching music for seventeen years. Her experience includes vocal and general music for grades K-5 and she now specializes in music technology and the integration of classroom curriculum for Fairfax County Public Schools in Falls Church, Virginia. Tara holds a BA in music from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an MA in New Professional Studies-Teaching from George Mason University. In 1990, Tara wrote, recorded and produced Vegetable Blues and Other Tasty Tunes, a children’s cassette tape and coloring book set. She has directed children’s musical theatre and was President of Cracked Egg Productions, her own production company. A 1997 recipient of an Impact II Disseminator Grant focusing on “Integrating Music Technology In The Elementary School Setting”, Tara has conducted workshops at Gettysburg College and been a speaker for the Greater Washington Reading Council. Currently she is the vocalist for Tara Hofmann & Friends, a jazz ensemble that performs regularly in the Washington D.C. metro area.

Heidi Lang (Now and Then: “Learning Through the Duke”)

Heidi Lang has been working in Falls Church, Virginia for 13 years. She has taught second, third, and fifth grades, and currently serves as a resource teacher in her school’s gifted resource program. She received the 1996 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award from the Washington Post, and was recently nominated for the Disney Creative Teaching Award.

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