Themed Lesson: April Fools'

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Age Range: All Ages

Introduction: In this lesson, activities are paired with listening suggestions to help students discover and enjoy music inspired by practical jokers. Select activities listed below based on time allotted, classroom goals, and student needs.

Total Listening Time: 8:28

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  1. Preface the activity with some context: “Many composers have captured the mischievous characters of practical jokers, clowns, and comedians through music. Think of a few silly, funny or mischievous characters in books or movies. Can you name them?”

  2. Choose one or more of the pieces of music from the playlist shown above. Have students draw pictures or write down words that come to mind when they listen. If you listen to multiple pieces, use a listening chart to compare and contrast the selections.

  3. Before each piece, give the following contextual information:

  • “Composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote this music to sound like clowns. As you listen, imagine what the clowns might be doing.”

  • “The famous writer Shakespeare wrote about a character named Puck, who loved to play practical jokes. Composer Edvard Grieg wrote a piece for the piano about Puck. Listen to that piece about Puck and draw a picture of what you think Puck would look like.”

  • “Composer Igor Stravinsky wrote some piano music about another silly character: a puppet named Petrushka. Listen to Petrushka's music. Do you think Petrushka is like Puck? How does their music sound the same? How does it sound different?”

  • “Composer Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote music about another puppet, whose name was Polichinelo. Listen to that music.”


  1. Create a puppet using whatever craft supplies you have on hand in your classroom. You can find ideas to make your own puppet here. For a very simple project, draw a picture of an animal, clown, or other character. Cut it out and tape it onto a popsicle stick.

  2. Make your puppet dance along to one or more of the musical selections.


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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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