Musical Story Time – An Arts Integration Unit

Combine disciplines with this fun and engaging arts-integrated unit. We take four classic children’s books, and read them aloud, then add in a musical concept and re-read the stories integrating our new musical skills. Whether you’re trying to incorporate music into your story time or stories into your music time, these will interest and involve all your learners. 

Download Materials Here:

There is a strong desire at my school for “arts integration” and “cross-curricular activities.” This unit is an effort to merge teaching literacy with music and could be taught for either subject. I am a music teacher and have included the music standards in a .ppt. Many of the videos in the unit are public on YouTube and I was able to get multiple copies of the texts from the public library.

I did this lesson with my 3rd and 4th graders, who then presented to the K-2nd graders. I did it in March, which is National Reading Month. The whole unit took my students a week but could be adjusted based on your needs.

This unit took place over the course of a week but can be adjusted to suit your needs. It is 4 stories and 4 read-alouds, plus a musical activity for each book. There is a performance element at the end, where I had my students break into small groups and practice the exact activities we did in class, and then read their stories and perform for younger grades. It was a huge success with everyone involved and definitely sparked a few new readers!

I cultivated a small library in the back of my classroom with multiple copies of these four story books. Each of them are easy and quick reads, but also has a musical tie-in. However, you could do this when different stories or additional ones as needed. I used as an engagement piece the fact that March is National Reading Month, and we discussed our as well as favorite books. After that each lesson followed a familiar format.

  • Read the story as a class
  • Review the story (Characters, Plot, Setting)
  • Introduce a musical concept
  • Re-read the stories adding in the musical element.

The students enjoyed the structure, repetition, and routine every day and by the end of the week, the lessons felt almost effortless to run. We culminated the unit with an amazing community engagement piece, where students stepped into the role of teacher and performer. You can do these performances “in-house” where your students just read and perform for each other. You can also collaborate with other teachers/classrooms and have your students read aloud and perform for another teacher’s class. For example, my 3rd graders performed for Kindergarten, but you will need multiple copies of each book. I was able to get them either from other teachers, or my local library.

Community Performances

I think it is incredibly important to make learning real and relevant, and also to build community. Students sometimes learn best from their peers, and these community performances help accomplish all of this. In your class, students break into groups, choose their story, and instruments, and practice the exact activity you did previously – Meanwhile you check with other classes, circulate a sign-up sheet, etc and see if there are others who would be willing to accommodate your students reading/performing in THEIR room.

Each story is incredibly short (less than 10/15m) so it won’t take up much class time. I did this with my last class of the day on a Friday – and most teachers were HAPPY to have students entertain their classes.

Each Student Group has to fill out a Sign-up Sheet saying: what story they’re reading, who is in the group, what instruments they need, and who will be doing what. It helps them get organized and holds them accountable. Groups/students who did NOT fill this out (or didn’t practice) were NOT allowed to perform for other classes and had to perform for me during a different time. This helped motivate students as well as hold them accountable during group work time. They LOVED being leaders and the other teachers enjoyed having them as guest readers in their classroom. It was such a wonderful way to foster a love of learning, reading and music.

If you are interested in learning more, you can download a Teacher’s Guide here


arts integrationbuilding communitycommunitycross curricularELAkids booksLiteracy Integrationmusic integrationmusical storiespicture booksread a loudread aloudreading

Frank Cademartori • August 9, 2022

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