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"America the Beautiful": Using Music and Art to Develop Vocabulary
|Grades||K – 2|
|Lesson Plan Type||Unit|
|Estimated Time||Six 50-minute sessions|
This lesson uses music and art in a vocabulary study of unfamiliar words from the song "America the Beautiful," increasing students' vocabulary while also increasing their knowledge of U.S. geography. A discussion to activate students' prior knowledge about sights and scenery throughout the United States is followed by a read-aloud and introduction to the song "America the Beautiful," which is then sung in each session of the lesson. Students learn the meanings of the song's words through shared reading and the use of context clues and images. Students then use photographs, illustrations, and descriptive language to create a mural shaped like the United States. Finally, through pictures and words, students reflect on what they have learned. This lesson is appropriate and adaptable for any patriotic event or holiday, and many of the vocabulary strategies are adaptable for other texts or word lists, as well.
"America the Beautiful" Extended Book List: This book list includes photographic and illustrated picture books based on patriotic songs about America.
In her introduction to Lively Learning: Using the Arts to Teach the K-8 Curriculum, Linda Crawford describes her personal difficulty in learning geography when she was in elementary school, until one day her teacher gave students the opportunity to present information in any way they chose. Crawford found that the active and tactile experience of creating a paper-mâché map of North America helped her learn and remember the topography of the United States.
Also tapping creative learning strategies to teach content area knowledge, Michael Graves addresses the importance of teaching individual words using strategies such as giving students opportunities to use words more than once and in a variety of ways. In this lesson, students use visual art, music, and multiple vocabulary-related strategies to help them learn vocabulary words that describe many features of the United States. At the same time, they learn one of the most well-known patriotic songs in American culture.
Crawford, Linda. 2004. Lively Learning: Using the Arts to Teach the K-8 Curriculum. Turners Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.
Graves, Michael. 2006. The Vocabulary Book: Learning and Instruction. New York: Teacher's College Press/IRA/NCTE.