We wonder all the time what our students are up to, right? Well how about making them wonder what we’re up to! This lesson works great with your older elementary students to teach them some basic information about Johann Sebastian Bach.
When the class arrives, start a recording of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" so that it is playing as they walk in. Without saying a word, as they enter hold up the first card, instructing them to come in silently. Once everyone is settled, move on to the next card with the title of the piece, and so on. Each card displays another bit of information about Bach. Make sure all students have ample time to read each card. And remember, don’t say a word! They’ll have no idea what’s going on and that’s great! And be dramatic! For example, when you are showing them the card about him becoming an orphan, "shed a tear". When you show them that he was put in prison, hold pretend bars! Have fun with it! I even have a little Bach doll sitting at the front of the room, and when we get to the card telling of his death, I lay the doll down and cover him with a blanket!
After the students see all information about Bach, they will be instructed to write down everything they remember. They won’t see that coming! Their response will be priceless! Be sure not to hand out paper and pencils until after the class has seen all of the instructions. Otherwise many of them will start too early and miss details. The cards tell them everything they need to know, so if they have questions, I usually just gesture for them to not worry.
When all students are finished and/or you have decided time is up, have your students count how many items they remembered and write the number at the top of their page. Then collect all pencils because cheaters never win! Ask them (yes, with your voice, finally) to share information they remembered, and yes, “enter silently” can count! They are so literal! This is also a great time for you to elaborate on some information such as why he was imprisoned, which was because the Duke didn't want him to leave. They can also ask questions at this time. Finally, whoever correctly remembered the most information is declared the winner. You will have to check papers, however, just to be sure of their accuracy.
Because of the nature of how this lesson’s information is delivered, through mystery, the students will easily remember most of the information they learn. Ask them a week later, and they will still remember most, if not all of it!