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In The Tall, Tall Grass Lesson Plan

Author: Debbie Beninati

Year: 2015

Artform: Music

Subjects: Language Arts

Grade: 2nd or 3rd

Duration: 30-45 minutes

Overview: Students will read In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming with the music teacher, learn spoken chants, add instrumentation to those chants, and add Orff accompaniment to the chants.

Standards and Objectives

Sing in a natural voice, free from strain, perform independently or with others with expression, a steady and accurate beat, and correct rhythm and melody patterns on a variety of simple instruments.
Describe how words and phrases supply rhyme and meaning in a story.
Students will sing the song, “Tall Tall Grass” and perform the spoken chants pulled from the text of the story. Students will perform the chants on rhythm instruments. Students will maintain a steady beat on Orff instruments.



Begin with a brief discussion about exploration and ways people can explore. Explain that in music today, we will: explore a new book that is about exploring backyard nature, then we will explore the book further through music!

Read the book, In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming, aloud to the students and have them, as a group, echo each page. Be sure to read each page rhythmically and with a steady beat.



1. Teach the song by rote.

2. Add Orff accompaniment to song. Emphasize that these instruments will help to keep a steady beat.

Bass Instrument Ostinato:

Alto Instrument Ostinato:

Soprano and glockenspiels: quarter notes up and down (steady beat), bilateral movement.

3. Teach spoken chants and practice all of them as a group while keeping a steady beat on your knees. The words can be written ahead of time on the board. Then add un-pitched percussion instruments to play the rhythms as you speak them. Emphasize that these instruments will play the rhythm:

Caterpillars: maracas

Hummingbird: Triangle

Beetles: Crow sounder (tapped) or wood block.

4. Put it all together: song, Orff, and un-pitched instruments.


Rotate instrument parts so everyone has a turn on an instrument. Everyone sings all the time! Depending on whether your class period is 30 minutes or 45 minutes, you can divide this into two lessons.


Review by asking the students which instruments kept the steady beat and which played the rhythm. If time allows, choose other passages from the book to orchestrate or add verses that aren’t in the book (e.g. “What else might we find exploring in the backyard that wasn’t in the book? Can we make a rhyming sentence about it?”). This can also be done as a follow-up lesson if desired.


Pulling the text from the story and discussing the rhythmic and rhyming aspect increases depth of knowledge. Exploring the rhythm and rhyme of this story through the context of the art form not only enhances the musical experience of this lesson (rhythm vs. steady beat, performing as an ensemble, timbre, etc.), but it also provides a gateway to understanding meter in text (poetry, for example).
Self-assessment: Have the students evaluate their own performance.
  • What did we do well?
  • What could we improve?
  • How?
  • What was easy?
  • What was difficult?
If your students still have difficulty with steady beat, have them keep a steady beat on their un-pitched instruments rather than play the rhythm. Otherwise, the lesson is suitable for all ability levels due to the primary use of bilateral, gross motor movements.
  • Beat
  • Rhythm
Music: Listen for the students using a natural singing voice, free from strain.

Observe that they are keeping a steady beat and can differentiate between steady beat and rhythm.

Language arts: Point to the words as the students read the spoken chant.

Listen to hear that each group is reciting the spoken chant correctly, as it is written.
The “orchestrations” provided are just suggestions and different instruments can be substituted. Students can even offer suggestions as to which instruments would be best to use. Visual cues, such as photographs of a caterpillar, hummingbird, and beetle, can be used to help the students remember which group they are in. These visuals can also be used to expand the lesson: choose a “conductor” to hold up the visuals at random to cue the groups. ABA or Rondo form can be created in this way, expanding the lesson further.


  • Bass, alto, and soprano xylophones
  • Bass, alto, and soprano metallophones
  • Soprano and alto glockenspiels
  • Maracas
  • Triangles
  • Crow sounders or wood blocks
  • Song and chants, listed in the demonstration of lesson plan
  • Optional posters or photographs of a caterpillar, hummingbird, and beetle to use as visual cues