Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has always been one of my favorite musical works. This program music is so beautiful and powerful, but also so descriptive, you can literally see in your mind and feel in your bones what Vivaldi is trying to describe with his music. (And if you aren’t sure what he’s trying to describe, check out these sonnets Vivaldi wrote to correspond with his music.) Because the music is so suggestive of movement, it’s perfect for a music and movement activity with children!
I usually start out with the children by mentioning that this music was written by a man named Antonio Vivaldi a long, long time ago, and that he wanted to write music that sounded like the different seasons. Then I announce each season as the music begins and we move to the music, calling out new movements to go with the music. For example, in the Spring segment, we start out marching, then as the music quiets we tiptoe, as it has quick runs we jump and talk about flowers blooming up out of the ground or birds jumping into flight. For Summer, we usually pant and fan, or slowly walk or crawl looking for water, because the music is slow and hot. Fall involves some hands as falling leaves, of course, and Winter is freezing and shivering, or perhaps a snowstorm, dancing with white scarves. (Here’s a great YouTube clip of Winter. You can find other clips online as well.)
Create the movements together, listening carefully to what you hear and considering what you and the children know about each season the music is representing. Should you be moving quickly or slowly? Will your body be down low or up high? How could you show leaves falling/birds singing/sun shining? You may even want to listen to the music without any dancing first, and talk about what you hear and the types of movements you might use before you begin the movement portion of the activity. I’m not suggesting that everyone should be doing the same choreographed movements, but some discussion time to consider movement will make them more intentional. I don’t usually use Vivaldi’s entire movement, but enough to keep the children involved. I may just use the Winter movements if we’re talking about that season in particular. If I’m doing all four seasons, I may transition by saying something like, “Oh this is just way too hot here in the summer, let’s look for someplace cooler!”
This type of music and movement activity is great for exposing children to famous works of music and increasing their understanding and appreciation of it. More importantly, it builds in them the ability to create as they internalize the music and express it again through their unique movements. The movements also increase muscle strength and control as well as an awareness of personal space and boundaries (something you may want to address at the beginning of this endeavor). The activity also builds active listening skills, which are important not just to music appreciation, but to learning in general. For more information about the importance of music activities for preschoolers read here.
For more favorite fall activities, click here!
For more wintry activities, click here!
Top photo by Kerbi.