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Grade: Elementary
Subject: Music

#2050. Rain Dance

Music, level: Elementary
Posted Sat Dec 2 12:11:17 PST 2000 by Jessica Wolcott (
Indiana University of PA, Indiana, PA, USA
Materials Required: song: chokelas from Runa Pacha, map of native american territory in the US, instruments
Activity Time: 15-20 minutes
Concepts Taught: Native American culture and rain dance, dynamics: loud and soft

I. Objectives
As a result of this lesson, the students will be able to:
1. Identify a characteristic from the Native American culture.
2. Perform a "rain dance".
3. Identify loud and soft sounds in the rain dance.

II. Materials
v Song: "Chokelas" from Runa Pacha
v Map of Native American territory in the United States
v Musical Instruments
III. Procedure

1. Introduction
To begin the lesson, the teacher will play "Chokelas", a song from Indian culture. The students are expected to listen to the song and be ready to participate in a discussion about what they were thinking of while the song was playing and answer the question, "What group of people might this music belong to?" The teacher will discuss with the class that some cultures have distinct characteristics, such as the song that was played. The song had an apparent sound, marking the Native American culture.

2. Principle Activity
The teacher will give a background about Native American culture and rain dances. "Native Americans hold ceremonial dances, called rain dances, hoping for rain so that they have a plentiful crop season. Different tribes hold different traditions in their rain dances. Common rain dances feature dancing in a circle, the pouring of water, and whirling around, acting like the wind. The Hopi Indian rain dance includes holding a live venomous snake in the mouth. The Sioux Indians danced four times around a jug of water, threw themselves to the ground, and then drank from the jug. Rain dances may also be performed by other cultures for reasons such as life, health, and power." A map will be used to support this discussion by pointing out the areas of the United States where these tribes resided.

"Today we are going to make our own rain dance using our hands!" The teacher will gather the class in a circle on the floor, with two or three students sitting in the middle. The students in the middle of the circle will make the wind sounds, using shakers while the rest of the students follow the teacher's lead. The rain dance begins with tapping fingers on the floor (wooden floor suggested). The motions will progress counter-clockwise in a domino effect. When the teacher's turn comes around the circle again, he/she will begin tapping all fingers on the floor, making a louder sound. The students will continue with their motion until it is their turn. Next the teacher will use the palm of her hand to hit the floor, sounding like the height of the rainstorm. The students will again follow in a domino effect. Finally to complete the rain dance, the hand motions will repeat in a reverse order.

3. Concluding Activity
The teacher will ask the students how our rain dance sounded like a real rainstorm and to identify the parts of the storm (light rain--soft, wind-soft but loud as the height of the storm approached, pouring rain-loud, the height of the storm).

Students will break into groups and create their own rain dance and share with the class. Instruments may be used.

IV. Evaluation

Students will be informally assessed through participation during the rain dance and their ability to work successfully in groups.