Fall Music Lesson: Creative Movement and Improvisation

Fall Music Lesson: Creative Movement and Improvisation


Wow! Did September go by quickly or what? I’m so glad we’re having cooler temperatures, aren’t you? Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the changing colors and all the fun things you can do outside–biking, hiking, and just walking without the summer sun beating down.  Hopefully you’re enjoying some cooler temperatures too. I’m sure the students are happy to be able to run around during recess without breaking into a sweat. So, that’s why I begin integrating more creative movement activities in my music class lessons. Fall themed songs are perfect for students to “fall”, “drift”, “blow”, “slide”, sing and play instruments in fall music lessons. 

There are many songs about fall and leaves falling, but I thought I’d put one together with a twist. Children love stories, action and instrument playing, so I combined these three elements into a music class lesson with an original song. “Leaves are Falling All Around”. Not only can the children tap the beat, sing the solfa, the lyrics and play instruments, but they can do the activity and also improvise some rhythm patterns.

I love to watch the children pretend to be falling leaves as they sing the song and at the end of the song, improvise a rhythm pattern that’s supposed to mimic the sound of “falling leaves”.

How do we get there? I feel like it’s important for students to feel, hear, and see visual representations of long and short.



LONG:  “ah….” and “shhhhhhhh,”, “whoooooosh”

SHORT: clicking, “bbbb”, “kkkk”, “st, st, st, st,”, “sh, sh, sh, sh” pop, stop, drop, plop, pit, pat,


LONG: sway, glide, arcs above and around the body,  whole body down and up

SHORT: flicking, rolling, skip, tip-toe, marching, clapping, snapping, patting


LONG: xylophone, glockenspiel, chimes, slide whistle, triangle, cymbals

SHORT: drum, wood block, rhythm sticks

With Kindergartner’s and First Graders we gather in a circle. I will stand in the middle of the circle and begin to move my branches. I ask the students to copy me. Then I ask for some students to be my leaves. I will ask a few to come inside the circle and I will ask them to make sounds and movements of leaves falling on the ground. (I ask everyone to make the sounds). What if the wind is whipping fast? How would the leaves sound and move? What if it’s a gentle breeze? A storm?

I encourage them to make long and short sounds with sounds and their bodies. (You may need more pre-practice with this activity) (And- no ghostly sounds).

Then I ask students to take my place as the “tree” and switch out the “leaves”. After singing the song and experiencing long and short sounds we add instruments and connect to patterns.

Finally, I will have the play an Ostinato and a Steady Beat part while they sing. Then during the improvisation part of the song, they get to choose what and how to play.


I also think this is a nice lesson to teach across several grades. I think Pre-Kinders will love playing as leaves falling from the tree, patting the beat and experiencing LONG and SHORT sounds. Kinders will love to sing and do the activities too, First graders will sing and work on “la”, second graders can work on the rhythms, and third graders will enjoy the improvisation. Of course, this depends all on your students and your classroom situation. What’s nice about this resource is that it’s so adaptable for K-3. That way you can use it the way you need to for your curriculum needs.

And, if you still need some steady beat practice. You may want to check out this blog post that has 5 ways to teach the steady beat. It’s full of free lesson examples, graphics and links to teach a whole unit on the steady beat. 



I love connecting literacy with music and this book would be a nice addition to singing fall songs.
“Leaves” by David Ezra Stein
Here is a nice reading of the book if you don’t have it—

After singing the song and reading the book, I would have the students experiment with some creative movement. I’d ask them to show me how a leaf falls to the ground. If anyone falls with a thud (which I know they will do)…. I’d ask the class “what kinds of sounds do leaves make when they fall to the ground?) This would be a gentle reminder that leaves do not “thud”.


I love this gentle song and the video graphics. It shows falling leaves-which is important for the students to see, especially if they have not experienced the fall season.

Here’s fun fall lesson over at Emily’s Kodaly Music:
Have a parachute?  Here’s a fun activity:


And, it’s nice to use video to help students visualize falling leaves-especially here in the desert where the students at age 5-7 may not have seen or remember what “fall” looks like”.
I use the “Leaves are Falling All Around” song for 2-4 classes. At first, I introduce the form of the song, then I have the students tap the rhythms and add in the words. Then we take a look at the solfege and practice so-mi -la and do.
After that I have the students sing the song and then challenge them to be silent during the “falling leaf” section. Then we get out sand blocks and shakers and play the sound of leaves falling during that section of the song. (We stand in a circle) I challenge them again, to sing the song and only play instruments during the falling leaf section. The students get very excited when they all follow the pattern. Then we trade instruments. This takes our whole class time. I take my time to teach each section and let the students get the full experience of learning, rhythms, solfege, patterns, form and relating it to “fall”.
Included in this resource is a teaching video, the sheet music for all of the parts, an Mp3 of the Vocal and the Accompaniment tracks, teaching pages for Beat, Rhythm, Solfege and a printable for students to make their own “Leafy” rhythms.
I think that “Leaves are Falling All Around” is a nice addition to some of my tried and true fall classics. It will work nicely with Rain, Rain Go Away, Doggie, Doggie Where’s Your Bone, and I Had a Dog. If you’re interested, you can find these resources in my store. The links are below. 
What are your favorite fall lessons?
You can find the complete lesson plans in this resource in my store.  “LEAVES ARE FALLING ALL AROUND” 











Rain, Rain, Go Away

Doggie, Doggie and I Had a Dog (with a fun new game)
Kodaly Game Song

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