Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

Subject Area

Arts Education




Students will explore musical sounds using instruments found in the classroom to create a sound story for the song "I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly." Students will choose instruments to represent the different animals in the story. When the story is sung or spoken, they will play their chosen instruments whenever they hear their assigned animal.

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

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


    Explore and experience music concepts.

    Unpacked Content



    • Steady beat
    • Long/ Short
    • One and two sounds per beat
    • Silent beat
    • High and low
    • Pitch set: So, Mi
    • Musical alphabet
    • Accompaniment/ no accompaniment
    • Like and unlike phrases
    • Echo
    • Speak, sing, shout, whisper
    • Solo/ Group
    • Unpitched percussion
    • Flute, trumpet, violin, piano
    • Loud/ Soft
    • Fast/ Slow
    • Age-appropriate audience and performer etiquette

    Essential Questions

    EU: The creative ideas, concepts, and feelings that influence musicians' work emerge from a variety of sources.
    EQ: How do musicians generate creative ideas?

    Skills Examples

    • Chant, move, play, and sing grade level skills.
    • Echo simple rhythmic patterns.
    • Echo a three-pitch melodic pattern using the correct syllables and hand signs.
    • Perform an improvised rhythmic pattern within a framework of four beats.
    • Perform an improvised melodic pattern on a pitched percussion instrument set to the pentatonic scale within a framework of four beats.
    • Improvise short songs and instrumental pieces using a variety of sound sources, including traditional or classroom sounds, body percussion, and sounds produced by electronic means.
    • Explore musical sources freely using found sounds, electronic sounds, or sounds from voice or instruments found in classroom, remembering to use sound and silence.
    Reading/ Writing
    • Create a visual representation of sound.
    Responding/ Evaluating
    • Respond to a musical call or question with an age- appropriate musical answer.
    • Evaluate peer performance to determine steady beat/no steady beat.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Students will explore the sounds of various classroom instruments and choose sounds to represent specific animals in the story.

    Activity Details

    The students will explore musical sounds by choosing instruments to represent animals.

    1. Divide students into small groups. 
    2. For each group, provide an assortment of classroom instruments. 
    3. Assign each group an animal from the song, "I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly".
    4. Encourage students to try out each instrument and decide which instrument best represents their animal. Emphasize that it does not have to sound like the animal. Warning: This will get very noisy!
    5. Once each group has decided on an instrument, ensure that each student has an instrument to play or share in the group.
    6. Sing or say the last verse of the song and let students practice playing when their animal is sung or spoken.
    7. Play the video, sing, or speak the song and direct groups to play as their assigned animal is sung.
    8. If time allows, assign each group a different animal and have them choose a different instrument to represent their new animal.
    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Observe students playing their chosen instruments whenever their assigned animal is mentioned in the story or song.

    Variation Tips

    Have students create a movement to represent each animal if you do not have instruments. Or, have students choose something in the classroom that they can use to make a sound. For example, tapping a book with a pencil.

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    Familiarize the students with the story. Talk about each animal represented. If using the video, pull up the video and have it ready to play for students.

    Digital Tools / Resources