Divide the class into four groups by numbering off the students with numbers one to four. Have students with the same number sit together.
Teacher: Today we are going to have special group names, instead of being group one, group two, group three, or group four. Listen as I tell each group their name and see if you recognize these words.
Tell the first group that their group name is spring, the second that their name is summer, the third that their name is autumn, and the fourth that their name is winter.
Teacher: Who knows how the words I said to each group are connected? That’s right. Each of today’s group names is a season.
Read Let’s Explore Seasons by Henry Pluckrose (or another nonfiction book about seasons). Pause as you read, and ask questions about what the students understand from the book. Have each group repeat the name of their season as it appears in the book.
Teacher: What are the names of the seasons again? Say your season name when I point to your group. What season is it right now? How do we know it is that season? What can we observe around us that helps us know this?
Listen to and acknowledge student responses.
Teacher: One thing we can observe is the weather. But is weather the same as a season? No! Today, we are going to explore the many different types of weather within each season.
Teacher: What weather do you think of when you hear the term winter season? I think of snowy weather, but thankfully it doesn’t snow constantly all winter long. Can you imagine it snowing all day, every day, for the entire winter season? Luckily, there are other types of weather in the winter season. The difference between seasons and weather is that seasons are defined by weather patterns that we observe over several months, whereas weather can change from day to day, or even from hour to hour. And weather can vary depending on location. It might be snowy in Springville, but down in St. George it could be sunny. Even though each location is in the same season, the weather within the season can be very different. Let’s see how many different types of weather we can think of.
Make a list of the types of weather the students come up with. Show the weather symbols as they list types of weather.
Teacher: What seasons would each type of weather happen in?
Write the season or seasons next to the weather symbols to help students recognize that some types of weather happen in more than one season.
Teacher: What kind of weather do we have right now? Can we create a dance movement that represents the weather right now?
Model how to create a dance movement that represents that certain type of weather. Continue as needed by identifying the movement of one or two more of the students’ suggestions for types of weather.
Teacher: Who can tell me what kind of weather we had yesterday? Was there more than one type of weather? Can we show with our weather pictures a representation of the weather that happened all day yesterday? This looks like a weather forecast! A forecast is a prediction of coming weather. Have you ever looked at a forecast that showed what the weather would be like throughout the day and how the weather might change?
Show a picture of an hourly weather forecast (from a phone or computer).
Have students do a dance of yesterday’s forecast.
Teacher: Did you know that people have been paying attention to the seasons and the weather for a long time? One of these people was a man named Antonio Vivaldi, who lived in Italy from 1678 to 1741. (He was born about 100 years before America became a nation.)
Show a picture of Antonio Vivaldi to the students.
Teacher: Mr. Vivaldi had a special job. He was a composer, which means he wrote music. He wrote a piece of music called The Four Seasons. In this music he has sections labeled “Spring,” “Summer,” “Autumn,” and “Winter.” This music is very special because Vivaldi was one of the earliest composers who tried to make his music paint a picture or tell a story without using any words. He used different sounds to try to help us imagine what each season feels like.
Teacher: Can you think of a type of weather that happens in one of the seasons? How would you represent that type of weather with only sounds? Would you use high or low sounds? Fast or slow sounds? Loud or soft sounds? Is there a specific instrument you might use?
Teacher: Vivaldi used instruments to represent all kinds of weather, like a sunny day, a gentle breeze, a thunderstorm, a freezing cold wind, and lots of other types of weather. However, just to be sure that everyone listening to The Four Seasons knew what he was trying to represent in his music, in addition to the music itself, there were poems written, called sonnets, that specifically told about each part of the music.
(Teacher tip: The sonnets are included in the teacher’s listening guide. You can share these sonnets with the students as a language arts tie-in wherever it fits best in your schedule.)
Teacher: Within each of these The Four Seasons movements we can hear many different types of weather. It’s almost like he created a weather forecast like the one we made earlier, but he created his forecast with sounds instead of pictures. When we look at the forecast, does it have weather changing back and forth constantly? Not usually. That means we might have to listen to the music for a little while before we hear any changes in what the music might be representing. Listen for changes in the instruments or in musical qualities like high or low, fast or slow, and loud or soft. Let’s listen together to the first concerto, “Spring,” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and see what weather we think we hear. Point to the weather symbols on the board, and I will arrange them into a forecast as you point to them. Listen carefully. We will talk about what we hear after the music finishes.
As a class, carefully listen to Allegro, the entire first movement of “Spring.” Have the students point to the individual weather symbols on the board they think the music is representing. You will need multiple copies of a few weather symbols used in “Spring, movement 1”: sunny, cloudy, stormy (thunder/lightning), rainy, and partly cloudy (optional). Talk as little as possible while the music is playing to allow the students to focus on listening to the music. Silently arrange the weather symbols on the board as the students point to them. It might seem like a long time to only listen, but because the students are trying to decide what type of weather the sounds represent, they stay focused.
If the students need more hands-on involvement, you could give them individual weather symbols to arrange (this would require making additional copies) or have them draw the forecast, using the weather symbols on the board as a reference, as they listen. After listening to the entire movement (3 minutes, 35 seconds), have the students discuss what they heard and see if the weather symbols need to be rearranged to match their decision. This weather forecast provides the students with the opportunity to map the musical form of the entire piece by using the weather symbols to show what they heard and the order they heard it in.
After the students have mapped out “Spring, movement 1: Allegro,” continue by helping them create dance movements for the different types of weather in the season. Explore the movement ideas without music, and when the students decide on specific dance movements, try the movements with the music.
Teacher: We just listened to and created a forecast for spring. In groups we are now going to listen to and create forecasts for the other three seasons. Spring group, since we already listened to music for spring, we are going to divide you between the summer, autumn, and winter groups. Each group is going to listen to a movement from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons that connects with the season group. Then you will create a weather forecast with weather symbols to share with other groups. You will need to listen carefully to the music and put the pictures in order according to what type of weather you think you hear in the music, listening for at least two different types of weather. You will then figure out how to show with your bodies the weather types that you heard.
Break into groups and give students time to work. Give each group an envelope with small weather symbols in it for the students to use as they create their weather forecasts. Each section has approximately four types of weather that can be heard in the music. The students do not need to use all of these types of weather in their forecasts, though. Aim to have each group use two types of weather in their forecast, and if they use more, that is a bonus. The envelopes should have only the four weather symbols used for their specific season, but with several copies of each of those four types of weather. Summer includes sunny/heat wave, cloudy, thunder/lightning storm, and hail. Autumn includes sunny, cloudy/foggy, light rain/rainbow, and blustery wind (windy). Winter includes freezing, bitter wind (windy), snowy, and sunny.
After students finish their group work and are ready to perform, give each group a second envelope that has all of the weather symbols that are found in the various movements from The Four Seasons listened to by the groups. Each season group will perform their dance. While they are dancing, the other groups should see if they can figure out what weather type they hear and see happening within the season. Each group will designate a leader, and the groups will silently help the leader place the weather symbols in order on the floor to create a forecast based on what they see in the dance and what they hear in Vivaldi’s music.
At the end of each performance, compare the groups’ weather forecasts to see if they match or if the groups heard and saw things a little differently.
Here are some question stems and danceable ideas that teachers can share with the students as they work in their individual groups.
Question stems to help students begin exploring movement
|Weather||Danceable Movement Ideas|
Bring arms up into a big circle surrounding the head. Then reach and stretch with arms representing rays of the sun.
Move with a medium energy, using swinging, swaying, and spinning motions of the arms and body.
Tap fingers gently on the floor, making a gentle rain sound. Bring hands up above the head and wiggle fingers while slowly lowering hands down to a lower level.
Dance using explosions of energy and sharp percussive motions.
Some students make shapes representing clouds. Other students may represent sun rays by reaching and stretching through the negative (empty) spaces in the clouds.
|Sunny/heat wave (temperature)||
Bring arms up into a big circle surrounding the head. Imagine being so hot that you slowly melt to the ground. Find interesting ways to move in as you slowly lower your body to the ground.
|Cloudy (thunder clouds in the distance)||
Move arms into low-level, flat, stretching shapes for stratus clouds. Move arms in high-level wispy motions for cirrus clouds. Shape arms in big, puffy, low-level curving ways for cumulus clouds. The movements of rising, floating, falling, and bursting may also be explored as ways that clouds move.
Find clapping rhythms with two hands. Have a student clap a pattern and have the group echo the rhythm.
Move arms into low-level flat, stretching shapes for stratus clouds. Move arms in high-level, wispy motions for cirrus clouds. Shape arms in big, puffy, low-level, curving ways for cumulus clouds. The movements of rising, floating, falling, and bursting may also be explored as ways that clouds move.
|Light rain (and a rainbow)||
For rain, tap fingers gently on the floor, making a gentle rain sound. Bring hands up above the head and wiggle fingers while slowly lowering hands down to a lower level. For a rainbow, move hands from the right side of the body up, over, and down to the left side of the body in a gentle swaying motion.
|Blustery wind (windy)||
Move with high motion and energy using swinging, swaying, and spinning motions of the arms and body.
Take all the energy and hold it still like frozen water (ice/nothing moves). Make frozen shapes interesting by using curved, straight, bent, and twisted lines with your body.
|Bitter wind (windy)||
Bitter wind is very cold; bring your body parts toward your core (the middle) to keep warm. Walk as if you are bracing against a bitter wind, while pulling your arms in close for warmth. Explore the speed of walking when a strong, bitter wind is pushing against you. Walk with a pushing, forward motion.
Begin in a high shape and find floating, turning, gentle ways of moving to a low level. Come to the ground and make a shape that is interesting and unique. (This is an ideal time to explain that each snowflake is different, just as each person is different.) Variety makes things interesting.
This lesson can be used to meet standards in many grades and subject areas. We will highlight one grade’s standards to give an example of application.
Lesson extensions might include the following:
Images 1–10: James Huston