Low & High with Ives


accelerator membership

Listen to and identify rhyme, rhythm, and repetition.

Listen to and compare high and low musical sounds.

Summarize the events or tell the meaning of the poem.

Lesson Process:

Step 1:  Read the Poem “The Elephant” by Shel Silverstein. Discuss with students what they think the poem means and why it is funny. Then, have students picture each of the animals.

Step 2: Have them create a web in the shape of each animal that describes the characteristic of the animal. IE: Create a web that looks like the rough outline of an elephant and one that looks like a grasshopper. Each web then becomes the animal description.

Step 3:  Have students notice that the elephant is bigger than the grasshopper. Ask them to think about and predict what kind of sound each of them would make. Big, small? Loud, soft? High, low? These are all opposites.

Step 4:  Then, have students listen to “The Circus Band” by Charles Ives. Have them pick out the opposites that they hear in the music.

Step 5:  Then, have the students move like an elephant when the music is low and like a grasshopper when the music is high. Give students a set of metallophones and have them play the low part of the instrument for the elephant and the high part of the instrument for the grasshopper.

Step 6:  Finally, read the poem again and this time, have students play the appropriate part of the instrument when you get to the word elephant each time and when you get to the word grasshopper each time.

Time Required:
30-45 minutes

Materials List:

  • The Poem “The Elephant” by Shel Silverstein
  • Paper & Pencils
  • Recording of “The Circus Band” by Charles Ives
  • Metallophones



Can students…

• Hear and speak a poem with rhythm.

• Explain the meaning of a poem.

• Hear high and low sounds.

• Play high and low sounds on instruments.

• Experiment with different sound frequencies.