In 4th and 5th grade, we really go over the instruments in detail (soon the students will get to chose one if they'd like to in Middle School). Also, my 4th grade students will visit our local university (NMSU) in mid-November to attend an orchestral performance. So, it is time for me to go over the instruments of the orchestra (again).
To begin: I'm a huge fan of the SFS Kids website. I use this every year as we go over the instruments, coupled with videos of prestigious orchestras from Youtube. I still have the old "Share the Music" series and there is a instrument-family coloring book with great printables included. Of course we don't color the instruments (I mean, what are they learning from doing that?), but I have printed them out on cardstock, laminated them, and assigned one to each student to hold. From there the student can:
1. Describe what they know about their instrument to the class
2. Break into groups based on instrument families (they love finding their "family members") and discuss similarities between family-members (as well as differences) - from there I can play recordings of instruments (there are some great sound-clips in the "Spotlight on Music" series) and have the correct family stand up and identify the instrument they hear (this can be done competitively, with correct answers earning points for the team)
3. Re-create the layout of the orchestra (great for discussing the reasoning for the placement and helping them visualize what they'll see at the performance)
In order to further prepare them for this performance in a fun and festive way, I created a "Spider Web Instrument Family Game". Students must match six instruments in each family to the correct web.
I intend to use this activity with a few different stations:
1. Instrument Folder Game Station
2. Listening Station (using apps on our ipods and orchestral music selections)
3. My Favorite Instrument (great for discussions and bulletin board displays - I also tell the students that whatever instrument the write about they need to locate and pay close attention to it at the performance):
Music Tech Teacher has some amazing games that are also great for review (and great fun too - project and the whole class can play).
What activities do you use to teach the instruments of the orchestra?