Saturday, 18 January 2014

Jellyfish NPP Composition Project!

January is Under the Sea theme for my primary Music classes and I wanted to come up with a composition idea for my grade 1 and grade 1/2 students that was different than our grade 1 Shark and grade 2 Jellyfish compositions from last year. 

I decided to focus on Jellyfish with this new idea because I am obsessed with them right now! This activity took about 45 minutes total and was so fun and valuable for the kids! 

Jellyfish Non-Pitched Percussion Composition Activity:
We did this activity after exploring the movement of various under water creatures!

1. Students each received a coffee filter and coloured it with markers. They left a lot of white so that the colours would blend nicely later on. This part only took ten minutes!

2. I sprayed down all of the filters with a water spray bottle and had the kids watch the transformation!

3. During the following class students decided on non-pitched instrument sounds they thought matched jellyfish movement. Movement words that came up were soft, light, wiggly, smooth, up and down, etc. Once the instruments were chosen by the students, the class decided on the ribbon that would best match the sound. 

4. For their composition, students each chose instruments and a pattern, using the appropriate ribbons.

5. The coffee filters were folded in half, and then half again. Students organized their ribbons on the bottom round edge of one of the filter quarters and I ran a strip of white glue on top of the ribbons. Next the students folded the filter closed and waited for them to dry.

6. To finish our project off, students each received an NPP instrument and we all played each of the Jellyfish compositions, with someone pointing along to track the tentacle "music"!

 Super fun and students LOVED this activity!

I did this over a total of three classes (but not full classes) to complete. Ten minutes for steps 1 and 2, thirty minutes for steps 3 and 4 (only because I worked with groups of 6 or 7 students at a time for ten minutes, while the others did a rhythm centre rotation), and ten minutes for step 6.


  1. This is SOOOOOO COOOOOLLLL!!! I love the idea of this and I'm already thinking of ways that I can adapt it in my classroom. I'm trying to figure out how you rotated kids in and out and how I could adapt that since I already have rotation sorts of things built in for a few classes. I was also thinking that this could be something that I did with my art teacher as a collaboration. She could be teaching about color theory and how colors blend together to create other colors. OR she could be teaching about watercolor or a famous artist like Monet or Degas and relate the color blending to that. Then I could take the lesson and make it musical with the nonpitched percussion. Gosh. There are so many possibilities! Thanks so much for sharing this idea!

    1. Aw thanks David! I'm glad you're excited about it! It was sooooo much fun and the kids truly loved it. I find that when I create activities that involve music, movement, poetry/text, and art, students really get a deeper understanding of the imagery we are trying to portray and composing becomes so much more meaningful! Collaborating with your art teacher is a great idea. Being a Music teacher here in Manitoba, I am fortunate and see my students three 30 minute periods over a six day cycle. I know in many American schools, this is not the case. I would highly recommend working with your art teacher if you have limited time with your kids.

      In terms of rotating kids in and out, I only did that during the ribbon choosing, placing and gluing part. Students had a partner that they rotated with. With 6-7 students at each centre, I had a popsicle stick rhythm centre, a rhythm writing (with dry erase sheets) and then the "centre" where they came to me to complete their compositions. Simple centres so that I didn't have to leave my centre to help the others out. I could focus on the compositions. I did this with grade one students, so many needed one on one help with placing ribbons on the glue, etc. They were each able to finish in ten minutes though!

      Let me know what you come up with! I would love to hear how it goes for you!