3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

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I love using scarves in my classroom. We do scarf routines that I have made up, or from Artie Almeida’s Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My! (Which if you do not have, you need!). We use them to keep the steady beat, feel phrases, etc.

So when I first started my opera unit, I thought, “I will make up a scarf routine for these two songs.”

And then I didn’t.

So it was right before my first class, and I realized that I had forgotten. So I decided to improvise.

“Let’s do creative movement with scarves! You can make up your own moves that match the music.”

I thought creative movement would be a disaster. That people would be hitting each other or bored or whatever.

But they loved it.

See some of my other favorite resources in my Resources Page.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room

I know this is nothing new, but I am here to say if you have not tried creative movement, you should. How do I incorporate creative movement? You may ask. Well here are some ideas…

Creative Movement for Listening

This is the easiest and best. This is how I used creative movement for the first time.

We were learning about opera. My school district does this wonderful program called Musical Explorers. The students learn about three types of music, and then go to a concert… twice a year. If you teach in near Savannah, Georgia or New York City, check it out! (Link for Savannah, link for NYC)

Anyway, one of our styles is opera. I love opera, so I was very excited for this.

We had some quiet listening time first. I told them to close their eyes. They could move their arms or heads or bodies, but eyes have to stay closed and you have to stay in your seat.

This also went better than anticipated.

Then we talked about opera. We watched a video of the other song we needed to learn. Then I pulled out the scarves.

All I said was that your scarf should match the music. So if it is fast, how should your scarf move? If it is slow, how should your scarf move? With the older kids, we talked about how you could also trace the melody, or have bigger movements when it was louder.

And it was great! Most of them actually bought into it and were listening.

Tips: Let them hear the music prior to turning them loose with the scarves. Encourage them to move their body to the music so that it will be easy to translate to the scarves.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room

Creative Movement for High and Low

My students have practiced high and low while moving around the room, wiggling their fingers, pretending to be fairies and monsters, etc. Scarves would be great!

You could play on the piano and have them move their scarf high for high sounds or low for low sounds. The Music Connection has a recording of high and low sounds for this purpose. Have them talk about different high movements and low movements. Challenge them by having them pick a different movement each time.

My students listened to Edward Elgar’s Fairies and Giants. We pretended to be fairies on our tip toes for the high parts and crouched down low for loud parts. You could have a lot of fun moving the scarves with this one.

Also: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Creative Movement for Piano and Forte

This is along the same lines. Play an instrument or listen to a piece that has forte and piano sections. Have students pick a movement to represent each one (maybe something with a small movement for piano and a large movement for forte).

You could also divide the room into two and have students move to one side for piano and the other for forte, while creatively moving their scarves to the music.

Of course, you would want to break that into sections—first listen, then stay in seats and show forte and piano, then move around the room for each one, and then finally do it all together with the scarves.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room
Second graders closing their eyes so they can “feel the music” in their scarves while listening to the music from Norma.

Creative Movement for Form

Have students listen to a piece of music with clear distinctions between sections (I like March from The Nutcracker (ABACABA), Rondo Alla Turca (ABCBABC), and Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks (AABA)) and talk about how form is how music is made. Talk about the form of it, so they know (and write it on the board). Then have students make up a movement for each section with their scarves.

You could even start this way, and then have students vote for their favorite movements to create a routine!

Check out my Animal Form lesson here.

Creative Movement for Moods

Have students listen to (short) pieces of music and use their scarf to reflect it. They can also use their faces to express how the music feels. Tell them they can move the scarf however they want as long as they are listening—if it is a slow, quiet piece, then the scarf movement should reflect that.

Also—end with a slow, calm, quiet piece as a winding down activity.

Artie Almeida has a great music-mood resource which you can use with scarves.

Creative Movement for Assessment

Yes, you heard me: assessment.

Creative movement with scarves can be used for assessing any of the things I mentioned and then some. Just watch the students responding to the music, and write down if they are understanding or not. For assessment purposes, having them close their eyes will give you a better sense of what they know.

Some other things you could assess include:

  • Instruments of the orchestra: Pick a movement for each instrument family, and have students watch or listen to a piece and show what they see. The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra would be great for this.
  • Melody: Have students listen to a song and trace the melody with their scarves.
  • Crescendos and decrescendos: Moving in increasingly large circles for crescendos and small circles for decrescendos.

Those are some ideas. Did I miss something that you like to do with creative movement? Have you tried any of these before? Let us know in the comments! I am always open to more ideas!

And don’t forget to get your scarves! If you do not believe me, try it and see! School can’t afford scarves? Check out my article on Donor’s Choose. You may be able to get them for free! 

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room


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