Music for Growing

Children will learn about musical pitch and relate it to growing.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

 Children will explore musical sound that can grow from low to high and use movement to relate it to how living things grow from small to large.


What You'll Need

Optional: Pitched musical instrument (slide whistle, xylophone, keyboard)

What To Do

  1. Identify different types of living things that grow, for instance, plants, animals, or people (see Did You Know?).
  2. Discuss what plants need to grow such as: sunlight, water, air, soil (see Did You Know?).
  3. Compare these to what people need to grow: food, water, air, and a safe place to live.
  4. Explain that, like living things, music can also feel like it's growing, especially when it goes from low sounds to high sounds. This is called changing the pitch.
  5. Tell the children they are going to use their bodies to show that pitch can grow like a plant grows.
  6. Have the children imitate a low sound with their voice while crouching down on the floor, then raise the pitch of their voice slowly while moving to a standing position with hands overhead. Practice leading the children in moving their bodies up and down as you make your voices higher and lower. Tell the children this is similar to the way that plants grow from being low to the ground to taller.
  7. Sing the parts of the body with pitches (think of a musical scale). Sing each body part name, increasing the pitch of your voice as you move from toes to hands in the air.
    • Toes (lowest)
    • Shins
    • Knees
    • Thighs
    • Hips
    • Shoulders
    • Head
    • Air (highest)
  8. Assign numbers to these parts of the body. Have the children sing each number (1 being the lowest and 8 being the highest), increasing the pitch of their voices as they reach the corresponding body part from their toes to their heads:
    1. – Touch toes
    2. – Shins
    3. – Knees
    4. – Thighs
    5. – Hips
    6. – Shoulders
    7. – Head
    8. – Hands in the air
  9. Practice singing the numbers 1–8 with body motions several times. Test the children's memory by only singing the numbers without showing movements. Try counting backward from 8 down to 1, or switch direction in the middle, always counting consecutively.
  10. Explain that some elements in nature grow more quickly or slowly than others and that pitch in music can do this too. Practice number/body movement activity at different speeds. For example, you could say, “Show me how a tree grows” (move body and voice very slowly), or “Show me how a dandelion grows” (move body and voice very quickly).

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me some different kinds of things that grow.
  • Tell me something that grows fast/something that grows slowly.
  • Explain the difference between what plants need to grow and what people need to grow.
  • Tell me some things that people need to grow that plants do not need.
  • Show me how your body looks when you sing a low pitch/high pitch.
  • Explain how a plant that is growing is like a musical pitch that is growing.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Once the children have a solid grasp on moving and singing the numbers consecutively, try skipping numbers.
  • Over several weeks, observe and document the growth of a plant either inside or outside of the classroom. Each time you collect data, ask the children to share observations about how the plant has changed over time.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children move their bodies to represent a growing musical pitch?
  • Did the children move their bodies up and down as the pitch moved up and down?
  • Were the children able to identify the difference in pitch that grows slowly as compared to a pitch that grows quickly?
  • Could children explain how a plant that is growing is like a musical pitch that is growing?


Did You Know?

Pitch, like rhythm, is a basic part of music. When discussing musical pitch, we are talking about whether a note sounds low or high. Pitch can change from a low-sounding note to a high-sounding note. Like music, living things grow from low to being higher. In our activity, we started out low to the ground, touching our toes and singing in a low voice. As we sang higher pitched notes, we stretched higher, much like a living thing would grow.

Like people and animals, plants often grow from small seeds to larger plants. All living things need food, air, water, and a safe place to live. Living things also need sunlight to grow strong and healthy. When living things are growing, they look like they are changing from being low to the ground to being higher. Similarly, when music is growing, it sounds like it is changing from a low sound to a higher sound.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • pitch – sounds that are high and low when you compare them to one another.
  • speed – how quickly or slowly something moves.
  • sound – anything that people or animals hear with their ears.
  • note – a single sound in music.
  • music – sounds made by voices or instruments.
  • grow – to increase.

Lesson Tips

  • If you have access to a pitched musical instrument (for instance, a slide whistle, xylophone, or keyboard), this may be used in the lesson. Rhythm instruments (such as drums, shakers, or rhythm sticks) would not be appropriate for this lesson.
  • If you are familiar with the concept of musical solfège (Do, Re Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do), you may choose to replace the numbers in the body movement activity with these syllables.


  • Fly High, Fly Low by Don Freeman
  • Little Wolf’s Song by Britta Teckentrup
  • Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! By Wynton Marsalis
  • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS