I spent Beethoven’s birthday in first grade with Michelle Gunderson’s first grade class. When I walked into the class the students were sitting on the rug, listening intently to a book about Beethoven. All week they had been learning about Beethoven using the book, Beethoven For Kids. They were at the chapter that was about Beethoven ultimately becoming deaf and his temperament becoming more and more combative. This was a perfect lead into beginning my part of the lesson and began with listening to the, Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Choral”: IV. Finale (Presto – Allegro assai) or more commonly referred to as, Ode To Joy. The students closed their eyes and listened. I asked the students if they thought this music was happy or sad. We discussed how this music was written when Beethoven was completely deaf and not a nice person to be around. Yet, this music has always been about hope and optimism for humankind. We then listening to the music again and I asked to students to move their hands to the music and to feel if the sounds were fast or slow, light or heavy, high or low. It was a wonderful sight to see twenty one little bodies moving to the music. The best was one of the students opened his arms wide, leaned back and smiled widely.  He had no idea that the lyrics being sung were:

You millions, I embrace you. This kiss is for all the world!

Next, each student drew with pencil, lines that describe the sounds of the music.

The second picture was described as, “Charging horses.”

I then passed out copies of manuscripts of Beethoven and we talked about what they noticed and what they wondered.  Then the collage process began. Pieces from the manuscript images were cut to use in their collages and then glued to a piece of beautiful, handmade paper.

Then it was time for paint!

Also, color pencils:

Beethoven with Michelle's class

Tomorrow the class will watch the movie, Beethoven Lives Upstairs and spend time finishing their art work. You can watch the movie on YouTube by clicking on the image below: