Ideas for Elementary School-Aged Children

“This will be our reply to violence: To make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” —Leonard Bernstein

These activities can be done in a classroom setting, at church or at home.

Children are very aware of and comforted by the song "Amazing Grace," which is used even in military funerals, often played on bagpipes.

  • Have children play on recorders or other instruments the melody for "Amazing Grace" or hum the tune if no instruments are available.
  • Avoid singing the words "Saved a wretch like me."
  • Have them create new words for the melody in response to what they may be feeling concerning the events of the new Boston Massacre.
  • Give them an opportunity to sing the new words with the melody.
  • Add soft drumming with a steady beat and finger cymbals.

Admit that life can be dangerous. 

  • Help children feel safe by reading one of their favorite stories.
  • Share the original reasons for the very popular song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." It is originally a lullaby. You can still hear that in the lyrics "Hush, child; hush, darling!" South African children were encouraged that they could sleep, no fears, because the lion who is on the prowl during the day (admitting danger), is sleeping at night.
  • Play a clip or recording of the song, such as LadysmithBlack Mambazo/Mint Julep
  • Invite children to talk about how that makes them feel.
  • Play a clip from "The Lion King," showing animals of every kind living together peacefully.

For Children Grades K-3

  • Provide paper and drawing material for the children.
  • Briefly update students on current events in the least threatening manner possible, perhaps just asking what they know.
  • As they listen to a calming, comforting musical selection such as Claude Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun," have children create pictures of what they may be feeling.
  • Allow them to tell about what they have drawn.
  • Be able to tell parents about any very strong fears children may have.
  • Have them take the pictures home.

For Children Grades 4-6

  • Have older elementary children compose poems about what they are feeling concerning the Boston Massacre.
  • Have them compose a new melody, using the minor mode.
  • Add rhythm instruments, using a steady beat as they work on their new creation.
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