Children in a Year One class were learning about Explorers so a two-week unit of story writing using the Planets Music by Gustav Holst was planned.
The children were amazed by the music at the start of the unit and listened to it lots of times so that they had the opportunity to share their ideas. The week began with listening to the types of instruments and it was interesting to see the children’s prior knowledge. Pupils discussed how the music made them feel and the children were really good at this and could suggest what the music changes reminded them of.
The class then moved onto using the musical instruments to try and recreate elements of the music. Though some of the children found this difficult, with support they were able to work in small groups to play their instruments to match the music from ‘Mars – The Bringer of War’
The next day, teachers and students mapped the song out on a large wipe board and discussed how the music changes as the piece progresses. The children were challenged by trying to find the appropriate vocabulary to describe what they could hear. Working as a class, pupils shared ideas about what could be happening at each part of the story and how events might occur according to the music map. Teachers scaffolded the learning by providing the children with a main character and saying that they would be going on a journey into space, but the rest of the characters and events came from the children.
Children had a number of English sessions to plan their own story events that would mirror the class map and the music. They came up with some great events and those children who were often lacking in ideas found the confidence to plan an exciting story. Before writing, children worked in pairs to verbally rehearse their stories before putting pen to paper.
Teachers wanted to give the children time to explore each part of their story so they focussed on small sections of their writing one or two events at a time. The children worked their way through their story plans and wrote some amazing space adventure stories. All children were engaged and were focussed and the length of the music provided the opportunity for the children to really develop their stamina for writing and write for sustained periods of time.
Once children had checked their writing they shared them friends. It was apparent that the children were very proud of their stories and they listened to each other with respect and excitement.
Good for: Descriptive language, enthusiasm, story mapping