How to Use Fairy Tales in the Music Classroom

Fairy tales are great tools for vocal, instrumental, and movement exploration for all students in the music classroom. From simple storytelling to a story with sound effects to a grand production, fairy tales are engaging and capture the imagination.

Start with the story, add body percussion, vocal sound effects, and then transfer to instruments. See the tables below as examples.

Fairy Tales lesson plans, ideas, and uses in the music classroom.
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Vocal Exploration Activities, Strategies, and Lesson Plans

This growing post for elementary students will include vocal activities, print activities, games, videos, exercises, lesson planning, crafts, and other engaging ways for children to explore pitch and their voice.

Vocal Exploration lines, circles, swoops, and circles.

October Story, Picture, & Lesson Plans

This free resource, perfect for K-2, sets up a visual and story that is meant for fun vocal exploration. It could also be used for 3-5 using vocal and instrument exploration fx.

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Storytelling With Feierabend Story Posters

I had Feierabend’s Vocal Exploration Stories posters and one of my favorites was Dark and Stormy Night. (top row, middle) We were not allowed to “do” Halloween at my school but this poster has no jack-o-lanterns or other Halloween imagery and it was always a favorite of mine and my kindergarten and first-grade students. Here’s how I used it.

  • Day 1: I’d gather the kindergarten students around me and tell them there was a story that went with the picture but before I read it, “Tell me what you see and what you think is going on.” They colors and imagery on the poster invoked all kinds of ideas. We spent 5-10 minutes discussing the poster. I said, “Let’s see if your story matches anything in the story that goes with the picture.” Then I would read the story and they would supply the sound effects. (Because the word “scream” is in the story, I always told them to pretend scream because we didn’t want the other classrooms to think we were in danger. How awful to think about that idea as I write this in the summer of 2022, right after the Robb Elementary tragedy.)
  • Day 2: I asked them what other things might be happening on a “dark and stormy night” and the below image has examples of some of their ideas. After every suggestion, I’d ask them to tell me the sound their idea would make. Then I’d read the story and add on their ideas, always in a slow, mysterious voice. Vocal exploration and storytelling at its finest.
  • Day 3: I would add on some of the Post-it ideas from other classes to enhance the story. They LOVED hearing other class ideas.
  • Grade 1: Because they had done the activity the prior year, I skipped day 1 and 2 ideas and just revisited their Post-its from kindergarten. They would giggle and giggle recreating what they had done as kindergarteners.
  • One of my favorite ideas from a student was an evil queen and when I asked what sound she would make, without pause, in the haughtiest voice ever, the little girl said, “Off with their heads.” So, as I read the story, I’d get to “an evil queen” and the classroom, in perfect unison said, “Off with their heads.” Using “said” is inadequate. They intoned, imbued, channeled, BECAME the queen and their vocal inflection was Oscar-worthy and spot-on.

Spunky the Spider

For swoops, glissandos, trills, and giggles, Spunky the spider does it all! I especially love using this finger puppet in the fall. If you don’t have your very own lifelike, fuzzy, glistening-eyed spider finger puppet, you can easily make one out of paper and achieve the same effect!

Zakster and the Four Voices

This interactive story resource is about Zakster who begins school and learns about the four voices. The script lets you personalize the story and fill in the names of the classroom teacher, music teacher, and several students. The minute you say the first personalized name, you will have grins, smiles, and total engagement!

In addition to the presentation, there is a month-long lesson plan suggestion, printable Zakster cards to play 4-Corners, and other game suggestions.

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