Winter Resource Activity Ideas

Black History Month

Activity Idea

Since 1970, February has been celebrated as Black History Month. Why do we celebrate? What does Black History Month mean to you? How can we become an ally and help create racial justice and equality? How can we promote the study and recognition of Black history all year? Use these questions and the lessons/activities below to celebrate Black History throughout the entire month!

  • Protest Songs: A Musical Introduction Lesson Plan (Grades 6-8)
  • The Freedom Riders and the Popular Music of the Civil Rights Movement Lesson Plan (Grades 9-12)
  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor aimed to tell a story of his African heritage through his composition African Suite, inspired by the likes of Johannes Brahms who did this with Hungarian music and Antonín Dvořák with Bohemian music. The movement “Danse Nègre” is meant to embody African spirit and the love of the cultures and countries within the continent. Filled with energetic melodic movement and quick rhythms, this movement imitates dance types from his African heritage and melds them into European classical traditions. Play Coleridge-Taylor’s “Danse Nègre” for students and have them move to the music, imitating the different moods and instrument movements presented.


  • Black History Artist: Alma Woodsey Thomas (full instructions found here)
    • Multimedia paper
    • Watercolor/regular paints
    • Circle stencil
    • Paintbrushes
    • Small cups


  • Black History Artist: Lois Mailou Jones (full instructions found here)
    • 5x11 card stock paper
    • Black sharpie markers (chisel or fine tip)
    • Oil pastels
    • Stick to scrape


Black History Month Virtual Concert: Preserving and Persevering (February 25 @ 7:00pm)

Portraits of African Americans: Highlights from the National Portrait Gallery Collection

National Museum of African American History & Culture Learning Lab

Paul, Miranda. Speak Up. Illustrated by Ebony Glenn, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.

Veirs, Laura. Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotton. Illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Chronicle Books LLC, 2018.

Mardi Gras

Activity Idea

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day of Carnival and is a festive season celebrated all around the world! Carnival occurs before the season of Lent in the Christian faith. Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations include parades, street parties, entertainers, elaborate costumes and masks, and lots of music.

  • Listen to Johann Strauss Jr.’s Der Karneval in Rom – Overture. Have students work together to brainstorm and create their own Carnival celebration. Do they hear a parade in the music? Dancers at a ball? Jesters? Observers? There are no wrong answers! Plan out costumes, create props, learn a dance and more to create your classroom Carnival celebration to Strauss Jr.’s Overture!


  • Mardi Gras Mini Float
    • Shoebox with lid
    • Hot glue gun
    • Construction paper or wrapping paper
    • Decorations (beads, glitter, feathers, confetti, ribbon, etc.)
    • “Riders” (Barbie, Lego people, dinosaurs, etc.)


  • Handprint Mardi Gras Mask
    • Cardstock (glitter or solid)
    • Pencil
    • Scissors
    • Paper straws
    • Hot glue gun
    • Decorations (feathers, jewels, glitter)


Carnival Around the World

Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans | National Geographic

Shankman, Ed. The Bourbon Street Band is Back. Illustrated by Dave O’Neill, Commonwealth Editions, 2011.

Valentine’s Day

Activity Idea

Composers Robert and Clara Schumann have one of the most real and beautiful love stories of all time. Struggling to communicate with one another through words, the two would compose songs for each other to express their love, often times setting poetry to their music.

  • Have students write a poem of love, appreciation, or friendship for a family member, friend, pet, place, etc. and set it to a piece from Schumann’s Kinderszenen, “Scenes from Childhood”. Students can either sing their poem using their movement of choice as accompaniment, or use the movement as underscoring for their poem as they speak the text. Encourage students to take their time in expressing their poem and not rush through it.


  • Tissue Paper Flowers (full instructions found here)
    • Green pipe cleaners
    • Green cardstock or construction paper
    • Colored tissue paper
    • Ruler
    • Scissors


  • Heart Map (full instructions found here)
    • Plain white paper
    • Markers or crayons


Valentine’s Day Ideas for the Classroom

All About the Holidays | Valentine’s Day

Daywalt, Drew. Love From The Crayons. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, Penguin Workshop, 2019.

Dean, Kimberly and James. Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool. Harper Collins Publishers, 2013.


MSO Teacher Resource Guides are full of background information about the music and composers, as well as suggested lesson plans and student activities. Below is a selection of Teacher Resource Guides from previous seasons. Follow the MSO Education Spotify Channel and listen to these past Concerts for Schools programs.

Teen (6th - 12th grades)

Youth (3rd - 8th grades)

Music for Me! (K4 – 2nd grades)


TSOUNDS KIDS offers “how to” videos, games and puzzles.

The Kennedy Center is providing digital performances to enjoy from home!

Carnegie Hall is offering numerous activities for families and kids ranging from infancy to 5th grade.

Watch and listen to professional musicians. The Philharmonia’s expert players guide you through the intricacies of the instruments they play.

DSO Kids includes videos, information on instruments and composers, and activities.

SFS Kids provides fun and games with music! An interactive website where children can discover, listen, play, perform, conduct, and compose. (Need to allow Flash Player in order to run).

PBS Kids has a variety of music games for children in Pre-K through 2nd grade.

Go Classical for Kids! An interactive website with a variety of games and activities.

World Music with DARIA. The instrument section allows children to color, hear and find pdf instructions on how to make world music instruments!

Join Violet and Uncle Ollie on an instrument Safari! An interactive website that introduces and describes the instrument of an orchestra through numerous mini-games.

U BETTER Sing! A fun interactive singing game app in the Apple Store.


The Cleveland Orchestra Music Explorers. A video series designed for students ages 3-6 and their families.

The Cleveland Orchestra presents teacher videos with ready-to-go lesson plans and activities. (Lesson Library)

Carnegie Hall is offering numerous resources for teachers ranging from K-12 as professional development opportunities.

DSO Kids includes information on instruments and composers, activities, and teacher resources and lesson plans.

PBS Learning Media provides a wealth of music-ed films, interactive lessons, and more.

The Kennedy Center has a vast collection of theatre, music, and dance resources.

Virtual Learning Resources for Music Educators: Ideas from NAfME Members for Fellow Music Educators

YouTube Learn@Home


Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra: Musical Journeys, Broadcast Series, and Backstage Conversations with Composers

Milwaukee Art Museum 360 Degrees

Milwaukee Public Library

First Stage at Home

 Milwaukee PBS

Milwaukee County Historical Society presents “Moment at the Museum” series

Arts@Large virtual community art events 

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum Play in the Cloud

Milwaukee Public Museum Community of Curiosity

Milwaukee Repertory is offering a digital streaming version of its classic production of A Christmas Carol.

IN THE BOX ENTERTAINMENT presents: Paint In A Box: Painting For One. A zoom-based theatrical experience that is fun for the whole family. Available February 9-20.