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The Story Orchestra – Carnival of the animals

Posted on February 24th, 2021 in STEM literacy links

Author: Katy Flint | Illustrated by Jessica Courtney Tickle | Age: 4+ years

children animals and colourful plants

Are you looking for a way to encourage the children in your care to engage with classical music? The Story Orchestra book series offers an introduction to this world with picture stories that allow you to listen to the music as you read. This book from the series tells the story of two brothers, Thomas and James, who discover a magical world full of animals behind their bookshelf. Their adventures in this world are illustrated by colourful pictures and accompanied by excerpts from Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, one of the most famous suites of music for children.

Talking to the children about music gets them thinking about how all these sounds are produced by the instruments and gives them the language to describe sounds as high or low pitched, increasing or decreasing volume. Can the children hear the animal sounds in the music? Can they hear the actions of the boys and the animals? This is a great opportunity to try out words to describe sounds, such as swishing, tweeting or pinging. Can they try to mimic the sounds with their voices?

The different layers of the book allow you to take the children on a sensory journey. You could get them to close their eyes and listen to the music first. Can they make up a story that goes with the music? Then you read the story to them. Do they feel that this story goes well with the music? At this stage they could draw their own pictures to illustrate the story. Then show them the pictures in the book. Finally, you could read the story again, while the children look at the pictures and listen to the music.

How did the music make the children feel? Why do they think this is? What pictures did they imagine or draw when they heard the story? Do pictures make you feel different to music? Do you prefer to hear the story, see the pictures or hear the music?

Give the children time and space to get creative. They could compose some music for another book they like. What everyday items could be used to create the music? Pictures, words, music – what other ways are there to tell a story? Can they represent a story in dance, or use cuddly toys to act it out? How can other senses get involved in storytelling? Could you taste a story or smell it?

With our book recommendations, we want to spark an interest in children to discover STEM in their everyday lives. Most books go beyond the obvious STEM connections and can be a great starting point for exploring children’s questions and ideas further.

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