Recognizing Patterns in Music and Children’s Literature 

Music Education Lesson Plan


Recognizing Patterns in Music and Children’s Literature Lesson Plan, level: K-2


Lesson Plan materials required:

Recognizing patterns in music: Education and standards lesson plan

Activity Time for Recognizing Patterns in Music and Children’s Literature Lesson Plan: 30-50 minutes 



Objective of Recognizing Patterns in Music and Children’s Literature Lesson Plan:Help students meet music education standards for identifying similar and dissimilar phrases presented aurally in a piece of music and identifying musical phrases in a song presented aurally. This lesson plan accomplishes this by allowing students to explore and learn about patterns in music, including verse/refrain form. It teaches them and gives them the opportunity to practice echoing simple melodic phrases and singing developmentally appropriate songs.



Preparation for Recognizing Patterns in Music and Children’s Literature Lesson Plan

Cut out the pictures and word phrases from the Recognizing Patterns in Music and Children’s Literature Lesson Plan Handout.

Introduction to Identifying Musical Phrases and Recognizing Patterns:

Defining Patterns - Explain to the class what a pattern is. For example, a pattern is something that repeats itself, or happens over and over. Tell them a pattern can be something they see with their eyes. As an example, draw a pattern of repeating shapes or colors on the board (i.e., square – triangle, square - triangle; or green-yellow-red, green-yellow-red), or hold up the patterns from the handouts. Explain that a pattern can also be something you hear with your ears and that many songs have patterns made up of repeating words or phrases, and repeating tunes.

Patterns in Old MacDonald had a Farm - Ask the class to raise their hands if they’ve heard the song Old MacDonald had a Farm. Tell them Old MacDonald had a Farm is a song with patterns. It has repeating words and melodic phrases. Ask them to listen for the repeating patterns as you sing the song together. Lead them in singing the song Old MacDonald had a Farm while introducing the animals in the following order; Cow, Pig, Sheep, and Dog (This is the order that the animals appear in the story Old MacDonald had a Dragon). You can hold up or point to a picture of the animal from the handout to indicate which animal you will be singing about in each verse.

After singing the song, ask the students what patterns they noticed. Answers may include “EIEIO”, “Old MacDonald had a farm,” “On that farm he had a”, or the different animal noises. As the children share their answers, write them on the board or put on the board the associated pictures/phrases from the lesson plan handout.

Patterns in the picture book Old MacDonald had a Dragon - Tell the class that you’re going to read them a book about Old MacDonald and his farm. Explain to them that in this story that some of the patterns from the song get interrupted or broken. Ask the children to listen for the patterns and the way the patterns are changed or broken as you read the story. Then read aloud to the children the picture book, “Old MacDonald had a Dragon”. If desired, while reading the book, you can sing the song/musical portions of the story.

After you read the story, ask the class who or what broke the different patterns (The dragon interrupts the patterns). Ask the children to explain what patterns were broken or where. If needed, re-read the book or portions of it to show where the pattern breaks occur.


Assess Students' Ability to Identify Musical Phrases and Recognize Patterns

Tell the class that you’re going to sing together Old MacDonald had a Farm again. Explain to them that as you sing it this time that you want them to count how many times a given pattern is repeated as you sing (i.e., “EIEIO”). Then lead them in singing the song, but this time add a verse with the dragon. The animals should be introduced in the following order; Cow, Pig, Sheep, Dog, and Dragon. Once again, hold up or point to a picture of the animal from the handout to indicate which animal you will be singing about in each verse. In the dragon verse, you can have the dragon say, “Roarrr!” For fun, you might choose to sing the dragon verse again having it say “Burp!” instead (Refer to book to understand why).

When you’re done singing, ask the class how many times the specified pattern was repeated. If desired, sing the verses again to have students count other patterns that are repeated in the song.


Advanced Reinforcement and Assessment (Optional) - Identifying and Comparing Patterns and Phrases within a Story

This portion of the lesson plan can be used to introduce the concept of comparing and contrasting patterns. Explain to the students that in addition to repeating patterns in the song, the story Old MacDonald had a Dragon also has other repeating patterns and phrases. These repeating patterns are very similar to each other (compare), but with slight differences (contrast). Hint: these compare and contrast phrases occur each time right before the dragon appears in the story and each time the dragon starts to leave. Explain to the students that as you re-read the book, that they should listen for those repeating phrases. Tell them that whenever you start to say a certain repeating phrase, that you want them to say it aloud with you (Or simply raise their hand). But also have them pay attention to the slight differences between each repeating phrase.

As an additional option, if you have enough copies of the book for the students to share, they can read silently along as you read, but when you come to a repeating phrase they can read it aloud. And when they come to the slight differences, you can instruct them to read those words even louder (or silent- your choice) to help them recognize the differences.

Note: A complete lesson plan on comparing and contrasting can be found at www.kenbakerbooks.com/lessonplancompare.html. The compare and contrast lesson plan uses Old MacDonald had a Dragon, as well as the book Cow Can’t Sleep to help teachers achieve common core standards for comparing and contrasting, by teaching students how to compare and contrast different items, compare and contrast different books, and compare and contrast text within a book.


To print this lesson plan: Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the Recognizing Patterns in Music and Children’s Literature Lesson Plan with handouts






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