ALEX Learning Activity


Snail, Snail Melodic Composition Using Iconic Notation

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Tiffani Stricklin
System:Jefferson County
School:McAdory Elementary School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1764
Snail, Snail Melodic Composition Using Iconic Notation
Digital Tool/Resource:
Snail Snail {Ta TiTi} {La} Teachers Pay Teachers
Web Address – URL:

Students will use iconic notation to compose four-beat melodic patterns. The icons have the letters S, M, and L to represent So, Mi, and La. After students compose a melodic pattern, they will share their musical composition with the class.

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

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 2
Music: General
9) Read and perform rhythmic and melodic patterns using iconic or standard notation.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Performing
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.
Process Components: Analyze
Essential Questions:
EU: Analyzing creators' context and how they manipulate elements of music provides insight into their intent and informs performance.
EQ: How does understanding the structure and context of musical works inform performance?
Concepts & Vocabulary:
  • Eighth note, eighth rest, half note, half rest, whole note, whole rest
  • Strong/ weak beat — 2/4; 3/4 meter
  • Accelerando/ ritardando
  • Pitch Set: Do , Re, Mi, So, La
  • Five-line staff
  • Treble clef
  • Names of lines/ spaces (treble staff)
  • Melodic ostinati
  • Partner songs
  • AAB, AABA, Rondo
  • Verse/ Refrain
  • Orchestral instrument families
  • Piano (p), forte (f)
  • Crescendo/ decrescendo
  • Orchestral Music: programmatic
  • Indigenous music: Native American
  • American music: slave songs, colonial folk songs
  • Age-appropriate pitch matching (B3-D5)1
  • Mallet/ drumming technique: alternating hands
Skill Examples:
  • Perform age-appropriate music with attention to expressive markings indicated in the printed music.
  • Perform an improvised interlude to a known song, matching expression and rhythmic/melodic themes.
Reading/ Writing
  • Identify expressive markings in printed music.
  • Identify meter marking in printed music.
Responding/ Evaluating
  • Notate from dictation 8-beat rhythm patterns using standard notation.
  • Perform short melodic patterns from standard or iconic notation.
Learning Objectives:

Students will:

1. create a four-beat melodic pattern with So, Mi, and La using iconic notation.

2. perform the four-beat melodic pattern for the class.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1.  Teacher sings a four-beat melodic pattern using So, Mi, and La, and ask the students to echo the pattern.  Repeat with different patterns.

2.  Demonstrate So, Mi, and La patterns using iconic notation.

  • Make sure to arrange icons with La higher than So, and So higher than Mi, to show the difference in pitch.
  • Use Snail icons from the "Snail, Snail" PowerPoint
    • You can print a set or create an Interactive Whiteboard slide.

3.  The teacher should sing each pattern that is created in the previous step and have the students echo. 

4.  Students will compose their own four-beat pattern using iconic notation.

  • Each student should have a set of Snail icons from the "Snail, Snail" PowerPoint.
  • Check each student's composition for different pitch levels.

5.  Students will sing their own melodic pattern composition for the class.

  • Demonstrate the correct pattern if a student struggles to sing correct pitches. The students will echo teacher.

6.  As each student shares, the class should echo each pattern.

Assessment Strategies:

The teacher will use informal observation to assess students' melodic patterns for accurate placement of So, Mi, and La.

The teacher will assess pitch accuracy while singing melodic composition.   

Advanced Preparation:

1.  Print, cut and laminate So, Mi, and La icons that can be found in the PowerPoint "Snail, Snail".

2.  The teacher should practice singing So, Mi, and La patterns.

Variation Tips (optional):
Notes or Recommendations (optional):

I use the Snail, Snail PowerPoint for the entire lesson. This "Before" activity can be used with the "During" activity, Snail, Snail Melodic Reading, and the "After" activity, Melodic Composition Using Traditional Notation

The PowerPoint is an excellent resource to teach rhythm notation. You can use this plan and change the melodic patterns to rhythmic patterns. Use the mushrooms and snail icons provided in the PowerPoint to represent eighth and quarter notes.

The PowerPoint presentation is available on Teachers Pay Teachers as a free resource.


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