Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Snail, Snail Melodic Composition Using Iconic Notation

Subject Area

Arts Education




Students will use iconic notation to compose four-beat melodic patterns. The icons have the letters S, M, and L to represent So, Mi, and La. After students compose a melodic pattern, they will share their musical composition with the class.

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 2 - Music


    Read and perform rhythmic and melodic patterns using iconic or standard notation.

    Unpacked Content



    • Eighth note, eighth rest, half note, half rest, whole note, whole rest
    • Strong/ weak beat — 2/4; 3/4 meter
    • Accelerando/ ritardando
    • Pitch Set: Do , Re, Mi, So, La
    • Five-line staff
    • Treble clef
    • Names of lines/ spaces (treble staff)
    • Melodic ostinati
    • Partner songs
    • AAB, AABA, Rondo
    • Verse/ Refrain
    • Orchestral instrument families
    • Piano (p), forte (f)
    • Crescendo/ decrescendo
    • Orchestral Music: programmatic
    • Indigenous music: Native American
    • American music: slave songs, colonial folk songs
    • Age-appropriate pitch matching (B3-D5)1
    • Mallet/ drumming technique: alternating hands

    Essential Questions

    EU: Analyzing creators' context and how they manipulate elements of music provides insight into their intent and informs performance.
    EQ: How does understanding the structure and context of musical works inform performance?

    Skills Examples

    • Perform age-appropriate music with attention to expressive markings indicated in the printed music.
    • Perform an improvised interlude to a known song, matching expression and rhythmic/melodic themes.
    Reading/ Writing
    • Identify expressive markings in printed music.
    • Identify meter marking in printed music.
    Responding/ Evaluating
    • Notate from dictation 8-beat rhythm patterns using standard notation.
    • Perform short melodic patterns from standard or iconic notation.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    1. create a four-beat melodic pattern with So, Mi, and La using iconic notation.

    2. perform the four-beat melodic pattern for the class.

    Activity Details

    1.  Teacher sings a four-beat melodic pattern using So, Mi, and La, and ask the students to echo the pattern.  Repeat with different patterns.

    2.  Demonstrate So, Mi, and La patterns using iconic notation.

    • Make sure to arrange icons with La higher than So, and So higher than Mi, to show the difference in pitch.
    • Use Snail icons from the "Snail, Snail" PowerPoint
      • You can print a set or create an Interactive Whiteboard slide.

    3.  The teacher should sing each pattern that is created in the previous step and have the students echo. 

    4.  Students will compose their own four-beat pattern using iconic notation.

    • Each student should have a set of Snail icons from the "Snail, Snail" PowerPoint.
    • Check each student's composition for different pitch levels.

    5.  Students will sing their own melodic pattern composition for the class.

    • Demonstrate the correct pattern if a student struggles to sing correct pitches. The students will echo teacher.

    6.  As each student shares, the class should echo each pattern.

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    The teacher will use informal observation to assess students' melodic patterns for accurate placement of So, Mi, and La.

    The teacher will assess pitch accuracy while singing melodic composition.   

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    1.  Print, cut and laminate So, Mi, and La icons that can be found in the PowerPoint "Snail, Snail".

    2.  The teacher should practice singing So, Mi, and La patterns.

    Digital Tools / Resources