Musical Thunderstorm

Musical Thunderstorm

Lightning and rain storms are perfect to go along with with a thunderous piece of music. The thunderstorm section from Rossini’s William Tell Overture is a great example of how music can help us to imagine amazing stories and situations. This is a fun activity that can take as little or as much time as you’d like and is great in the final days or week before a holiday or break when everyone’s energy is running high and students benefit from more active work!

  • Start by talking to your kids about thunderstorms. What do they hear? What do they see? What does they feel like?
  • Once you’ve got one or more items either created or assembled from each section listed below, it’s time to make the storm happen! Turn off the lights in your classroom and prepare for rain!
As you listen to Rossini’s William Tell Overture, have students build the storm up and down along with the music.

Making Thunder

Making Thunder: Short Version

Here are the options with no preparation necessary:

  • Grab sheets or towels from your house and give them some good, fast shakes. This is great for bigger, stronger students, especially if they work in pairs with each person hold a side of the sheet.
  • Use the surfaces around you. For example, use your firsts to pound on a desk or jump up and down on the floor.
  • You can also use just your body. Watch this fun video to hear and see ways to use only your hands to make the sounds of thunder and rain.

Making Thunder: Longer Version

Here are simple DIY drums for younger kids:

Making Lightning

Making Lightning: Short Version

  • Flashlights
  • Cell phones

Making Lightning: Longer Version

These offer a chance to build in some science about light and static electricity

  • Using a few simple materials, you can make this lightning “zapper.” Kids will be able to see and feel the lightning
  • We’ve all seen the little static bolts flying through the blankets when getting cozy on a dark night. Make them happen on purpose by rubbing wool or fleece blankets together or against your skin.

Making Rain

Making Rain: Short Version

  • Tap your fingertips or finder nails on a hard surface like a table.
  • Go back to this video from the thunder section to see how you can use just your hands to make rain sounds.

Making Rain: Longer Version

  • Make your own rain sticks.
  • Find some sort of Tupperware container and fill it with rice or dry beans. Shake at different speeds to make your rain heavy or lighter.

Making Wind

Making Wind

Gather up some wind-makers, like

  • Blanket/towels (give them a shake to make it blustery)
  • Paper plates or other study flat objects can act as easy fans
  • Plug in an actual fan to make some steady “hurricane wind”

The Final Product

There are lots of things you can do to explore this activity further:

  1. Pass the different elements around between students so your kids each get to try everything.
  2. Designate a “Simon” and play Simon Says/Hears/Sees – “Simon hears LOUD thunder” or “Simon sees just a little lightening.”
  3. Choose a person to lead the rainstorm – have them direct the group as to when to make the storm get closer and the rain get louder, let them decide when and if they want thunder or lightening, if they want it to be a calm storm or a crazy storm, etc.
  4. Experiment with the objects that you use. Which thunder sounds do you like best? How can you make the loudest rain?
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