Imagination Musical Fun

Use your imagination to adventure to faraway places, imagine exotic animals, and turn yourself into fun characters.

Take a Look & Listen

Watch and listen as Inside the Orchestra’s very own flutist, Valerie Johnson, takes you on a musical adventure.

Carnival of the Animals

Carnival of the Animals is a short 14-movement suite by French composer Camille Saint-Saens. It was composed in 1886 and, when it was written, audiences would have found it to be pretty funny- it is full of musical jokes that listeners would have instantly recognized. Each movement is about a character, mostly different animals.

This piece is an excellent jumping-off point for imagination-based interaction. You can hear the different animals so clearly in each movement.

Activities for Preschool and Early Elementary

Let’s start the imagination fun with our littlest ones. There are so many ways to engage young children with this piece.

No-Prep Activity:

  • Listen to all, or some, of the movements and have your child(ren) act out the animal that the movement is about.
  • Having them move slowly like a giant tortoise, stomp around like a big elephant, or flutter like flocks of birds.
  • Depending on the age of the children, you can dig deeper and ask them about the qualities of the music that made it sound like that animal. Does “The Swan” sound light or heavy? What instruments sounded like the lion “roaring” in “The Royal March of the Lion?” If you were to write a movement about butterflies, for example, how would you make the music sound – fast or slow? Heavy or Light? Simple or complicated?

Some Prep Activity: Gather just a few supplies and make some masks and headbands for some of the animals in the suite. Each of these can be easily adapted based on the supplies you have, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

Activities for Elementary and Middle School

This no-prep multi-disciplinary activity will engage many facets of your older child’s creativity and imagination. Have them listen to Carnival of the Animals as they write a story based on the following prompt:

Write a story about a group of friends that goes on an exotic safari adventure.

Not digging that prompt? Have them choose another one from the great list on this website.

Imagination Playlist

Used this playlist as you engage in the imagination activities. You’ll hear the entire Carnival of the Animals suite, the full pieces of music that our wonderful flute player played excerpts from, and some more music we love to listen to as we imagine and daydream.

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