Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Pete the Cat! Rocking in My School Shoes Composition Unit!

I have been working with my grade 3 class on creating music for the book "Pete the Cat, Rocking in my School Shoes". It is really coming to life! 

These are the steps we took before getting to our end result.

Step 1:
The first thing we did was read the book "Pete the Cat, Rocking in my School Shoes"
by James Dean and Eric Litwin.
Find it  HERE on Amazon.

Step 2:
The students then composed a melody (as a class) to match the reoccurring speech pattern from the book. We used a Smartnotebook file to help us.
We changed things and voted on ideas as we went along. Here is our final melody:
Click HERE for the FREE Smartnotebook file. It looks like this:

Step 3:
Next I divided my class into 4 groups. Each group represented an area from the story, where Pete was wearing his shoes. Each group was in charge of creating a soundscape to fit their area (busstop, lunchroom, library, playground). While choosing instruments and creating their soundscape, the groups were to write down shapes and lines that represented their composition (something that they could refer to later).
Step 4:
Next, students each created artwork that represented a "snapshot in time" of their group composition. They were to refer to their group composition notes for ideas. Using chalk pastels, each student drew their groups sound (I told them to imagine that they could see the sound and asked them what it would look like).

After drawing their sound in pastel, each student had to draw their school area in black marker. They made sure to include Pete in their drawing!

Step 5:
Finally we put it all together! We read the story, singing the song every time it came up in the book. Each group held up their "snapshot" and played their soundscape at the appropriate time in the story. It was so fun! The grade 3 class is sharing their story via Polycom (video conferencing) with a class from New Jersey tomorrow and we are so excited!

Pete on the playground!

Pete outside waiting for the bus!

Pete in the lunchroom!

Pete in the library!

What kinds of things do you do in your Music room with picture books? Please share!
- Steph


  1. I LOVE this idea! :)Thank you for sharing!! :)

  2. Thanks Fitchie! And thanks so much for being my newest follower!

  3. Just found your blog today! I use the book "The Wide Mouth Frog" with kinders early in the year to introduce voice types/singing voice. Each charachter has a different voice type as I read and I make the blue feathered bird have a singing voice.

    1. OOoo! I will have to check that book out! I absolutely LOVE using picture books!
      Thanks for checking my blog out!

  4. I love your idea. I like using books as well. I use the "Noisy Bugs" book to help with loud and soft. I also found a song on Youtube about bugs that my students love. I do have a question though. What exactly is a soundscape? I want to make sure I understand so I can explain it to my students correctly. Thanks!

    1. I am so excited to check out Noisy Bugs! I have been wanting to plan out a bug themed month for my primary classes and that sounds perfect!

      A soundscape can be many things, but the most basic way to explain it is by comparing it to painting a landscape except with sound! I love having students compose soundscapes because it allows for so much creativity and freedom (best to have some concrete guidelines however, and be sure model the process and give examples).

      For this particular soundscape project, each group was in charge of recreating one area of Pete's school using non-pitched percussion instruments (maracas, wood blocks, vibraslap, wind chimes, etc.). So for example, the playground soundscape could include a hand drum to represent students' footsteps, an agogo bell to represent the recess bell, etc. The students layered them and made them their own. These are very concrete and literal examples, soundscapes don't always have to be like that though. It can be more figurative, it all depends on what your goal is.

      I hope that all makes sense, please let me know if you have any more questions and let me know how it goes with your students!

  5. Thanks so so much!! I'm looking forward to using your great ideas this first week of school :)

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