Form and Observation


Science and Music

  • 30-45 Minutes


  • Recording of Twelve Variations on “Vous diraije, Maman” K. 265/300e – Mozart
  • Animal Scramble pictures
  • Pattern Rubric
  • Open space
  • Rhythm instruments (optional)

Lesson Overview:

Ask students to listen to Twelve Variations on Vous dirai-ja Maman (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) and raise their hand when they hear the part that repeats and always sounds the same. Identify this as the theme. Ask students if the parts that are not the theme sound the exact same, similar, or completely different than the theme (similar). This is called theme and variations. Ask students as a group to create a movement for the theme. Then, tell students that each time they hear the theme, they will dance that movement, and when they hear the variation, they can create their own motion.

Play the song again and then ask students to think about their individual motions on the variation. Were they similar to the Theme motion? Should they be? Repeat as needed.


Step 1: Give each child a picture from the Animal Scrambles Picture Sheet that you have cut. Each student must find their partner – each pair should have a baby animal and its matching adult animal. Ask students to identify as a pair what characteristics about their animals are the same and which are different. Discuss the class observations.

Step 2: Choose one animal (ie: the penguin) from the pictures and showcase the baby and adult version. Look at the items that were labeled “the same” and create a rhythm to clap for those items (ie: each time you say beak, flippers, or color = pat, clap, pat, clap). This is your theme. Any part that was different is your variation.

Closing: Explain that you will call out a body part of the selected animal. If it was something that was the same between the baby and adult, they will clap their “theme” rhythm. If it was something that was different, they can create their own 4-second rhythm. This is the variation. Remind them that the variation should sound similar to the theme, but not the same.


Use a rubric for the closing exercise. The key assessment items should be Identifying same and different parts of an adult/ child animal and performing theme and variation rhythms (are the variations similar to the main pattern?). Children should be scored on both items.