You probably find yourself finishing up all of the pumpkin and/or Halloween-themed songs this week. So, I thought I’d look ahead to November, the month in which most Americans are either stuffing their face with food (me) or canning and storing their garden harvest for the winter (not me). The lesson ideas I share today are inspired by The Acorn-Grinding Song from the Wehichit Tribe of Central California.

Click HERE to listen to a performance of the acorn-grinding song.
The lesson template and conversation cards you see below are meant to be used as a guide for writing your own lesson plan using The Acorn-Grinding Song (download both for free HERE). You can use the excess space at the bottom of the lesson guide to sketch out activity ideas or jot down notes on what you’d like to include in your own lesson plan. These lesson ideas could be easily modified for younger students by placing focus on the concept of a work song and practicing steady beat.
A HUGE thanks to Kimberly Geswein Fonts for the Neatly Spaced Lettering I used in these resources. If you haven’t already, please check out her store. She’s an amazing artist and all-around awesome human being!

Idea #1 
Break students into partners, pass out the conversation cards, and let them freely discuss their questions and ideas before gathering back together for a whole class discussion. This is a great tactic for getting shy students (like me) to participate in whole class discussions, because they’ve had a chance to formulate and verbalize their answers with a partner beforehand. You can choose to have students write out their answers or not, whatever works best for your situation.


Idea #2 
Teach your class to play the song’s melody on Orff instruments. If you don’t have enough instruments for each student, let them take turns. When students are not working directly with the Orff instruments, they can:

a) keep the beat on Lummi sticks

b) use extra mallets to “air-play” on a hard surface and get a feel for the melodic contour
c) sing the melody
d) keep the beat or play the rhythm on another percussion instrumentOnce all students are able to play the melody on Orff instruments, break the class up into three groups. Group #1 will play the melody on Orff instruments. Group #2 will keep the beat on Lummi sticks (or other percussion instruments). Group #3 will sing. Continue this activity until all students have had a chance to rotate through each group. This activity will probably take several class periods to accomplish, but is well worth the time and experience. Don’t forget to video record the students’ final performance to add to the school’s website. You could also have the students perform the piece live as part of a grade level informance.

*Sidenote* Did you know that Lummi sticks are named after the Lummi Native American peoples?

Idea #3 
After students have had exposure to the song through singing and playing, introduce the recorder into the mix. This would be a great challenge for your advanced recorder players and would be a great solo performance for a concert or informance. Check out the “additional resources” below for a video that explains the difference between a tie and a slur.


Click HERE to watch a video explaining tie versus slur.
Click HERE to see the notation and analysis of the song.
The following video is a kid-friendly demonstration of acorn grinding. This would be a great video to show as an introduction to your lesson:
I hope my lesson ideas and resources are practical and useful in your teaching. Which idea or resource do you think you’ll be most likely to use in your classroom?

4 Responses

  1. This is great! I'm always looking for more Native American songs and this is perfect for fall. Also love the idea of conversation cards! Thanks for including so many resources to make this easy to implement. Love all the ideas! #fermatafridays