Celebrate Dr. Seuss and Music In Our Schools Month

Share music and playful rhythms to help students generate and organize writing ideas. Kick off Music In Our Schools Month on Dr. Seuss's March birthday with this pre-writing activity.

The words will often flow as the music does. It wasn't music, but the rhythm of an ocean liner that gave Ted Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, the cadence that echoes through And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street. During a long and stormy North Atlantic crossing, Geisel kept his mind off choppy water by finding words that fit the chug of the engines. To get the rhythm out of his head, Geisel spent six months writing and rewriting his original notes from the eight day voyage that became his first children's book.

Read And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street aloud and tell the story of Geisel's voyage, but let students know you won't be blasting them with sound for eight straight days. Select music or recordings of unusual sounds to play for students as they write.

Students can write down anything they want during listening or you can narrow the focus by asking them to write about a specific topic, such as how the music makes them feel or words that describe the sounds they are hearing. You can also suggest a variety of writing formats such as lists, descriptive words, paragraphs or story. The idea behind this writing exercise is for students to generate ideas — or characters, themes, or rhythms — that can be further developed later.

Be sure not to end the music abruptly and give students a few minutes after it finishes to wrap up their thoughts and writing. Then plan for time to let students read what they've written and/or to share it with the class.

Rachael Walker, National Education Association (2012)


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