Activities (Issue 14)

For each issue of the magazine (going back to issue 7), we will add activities and a themed listening list to the ACTIVITIES tab—you’ll find the tab at the top of the blog.

The theme for this issue is PAPER. Enjoy!


Alphabet Soup issue 14 cover


for Issue 14—PAPER

1. DECORATE a greeting card using mosaics in paper.

You will need:
Coloured paper and/or unwanted magazine and newspaper pages
White runny glue
A blank card (or fold a piece of paper or card in half to create your own)

What to do:
Cut the coloured paper, magazine pages and newspaper pages into little pieces. Sort them into piles of similar colours.
Draw a simple picture on your blank card. Then glue on the little pieces of paper to ‘colour in’ the picture. Overlapping pieces is OK. Or you might like to leave a tiny white border around each piece you glue on, like tiles on a mosaic.

When all the coloured paper is glued on, paint a thin layer of glue over the pieces, to seal it. Set it aside to dry.

Now you have a home-made card for the next friend or family member with a birthday!

2. MAKE PAPER DOLL CHAINS (or gingerbread men chains).

Make paper doll chains (or gingerbread men chains): You could use your paper doll chains to decorate a card or wrapped present, or you could swap chains with a friend.  If you’ve never made paper doll chains before, check out this website for some instructions.

3. PLAY Rock Paper Scissors

This is a very old game and a fun way of deciding something like who will have the first turn on the trampoline today. You need two people to play. The players sit opposite each other and hold their hands closed (make a fist). Together they count ‘one, two, three’ and then each extends a hand in front of the other player, showing a rock, paper, or scissors shape.

Rock—hand remains as a fist
Paper—hand is held flat with the fingers all together
Scissors— thumb, ring finger and pinky fold under and the pointer and middle finger stretch out like scissors cutting

If the players both have the same shape, it’s a tie, and you’ll have to go again! But if they have different shapes, here are the rules:

Rock can beat scissors. (Rock makes scissors blunt)
Paper can beat rock. (It can wrap it up)
Scissors can beat paper. (It can cut it)


You probably already know about Noughts and Crosses. But there are HEAPS of other games you can play with only a pencil and paper. Check out this website for instructions—the next time you’re waiting for your sister to finish hockey training or your brother to finish band practise, grab a pencil (and another player) and the time will fly!

5. WRITE a letter to someone far away.
Then post it. Everyone loves to get a letter in the mail, and they might even write back to you.

6. ENTER our Autumn writing competition.

All you have to do is come up with a fabulous newspaper headline! Find all the details on how to enter here.


Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library—libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)


The Lost Art Of Letter Writing is a four-movement concerto for violin and orchestra written by the Australian composer Brett Dean.

Each movement in the concerto begins with an excerpt from a 19th-century letter, with a violin evoking the mood of each letter as it plays the alternate roles of writer and recipient.
Authors of the letters include composers Jonahes Brahms and Hugo Wolf, artist Vincent Van Gogh and outlaw Ned Kelly. Hear a really short extract of the music here. You can also download a sample page of the score from the same website.


Origami is the name of a ballet written by the Australian composer David Chisolm. It was choreographed by Philip Adams and first performed by the dance group BalletLab and the musicians of the Silo String Quartet in Melbourne in 2006. You can view a short excerpt of the performance (and hear the music!) on BalletLab’s website.
The structure of the music is built as if opening one giant fold, like a reverse origami, flattening out the memory of the paper, not to erase it, but to create a place from whence it is possible to begin again.


Duo Diorama is the name of  the music duo comprising Chinese violinist MingHuan Xu and her husband, Canadian pianist Winston Choi.
They have named themselves after the Diorama, as it captures their artistic ideals. You can listen to them play on their website.
In the 19th-century Paris, the Diorama was a popular theatre entertainment.
It comprised marvelous landscape scenes—with one depicting a mythic event—painted on to linen and brought to life using dramatic effects.
These included Diorama lighting—sunlight redirected by a series of mirrors. Such was the skill of the virtuoso light artists, that the diorama’s scenes would appear to take on dimensions and motion—to come alive.

Activities and listening list for issue 13 (summer 2011) unavailable

See the activities and themed listening list for issue 12 (spring 2011)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 11 (winter 2011)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 10 (autumn 2011)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 9 (summer 2010).

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 8 (spring 2010).


info, teachers' resources

Activities and music list for issue 12


For each issue of the magazine (starting with issue 7), we will add activities and a themed listening list to this page. Enjoy!


Alphabet Soup magazine, spring 2011


for Issue 12—SAIL AWAY!

1. MAKE a pirate’s treasure map. Hide something in your garden (or in your house if it’s raining). Then on a large piece of paper, draw a map so someone else can find the treasure. Use footsteps and arrows to show the way to go. Include some landmarks (like the tree with the tyre swing, or the kitchen table). Mark the hiding place with a red X. Give the map to a fellow pirate—can they find the treasure using your map? (Tip: make your pirate map look old and authentic by using a damp tea-bag to stamp all over it. When it is dry, roll up your map and tie it with a piece of string. Arrr!)

2. PLAY Ship to Shore (sometimes called Captain’s Coming!). One person becomes the captain and shouts out commands to the group—like ‘Ship!’ (everyone must run to the side of the room designated as the ship), ‘Shore!’ (run the other way), ‘Captain’s Coming’ (stand still and salute), ‘Shark!’ (lie on stomach and swish tail). Anyone who fails to follow a command correctly is ‘out.’ For a list of commands (and some more detailed instructions) visit the myplaygroundgames blog.

3. MAKE an origami boat: Using paper-folding techniques, make some paper boats to sail. Here are some instructions. 

4. EXPERIMENT—float or sink?: Grab a variety of objects from around your house or garden (check with a parent that it’s OK) e.g. a feather, an apple, a pumpkin, a plate, a paperclip, a coin. Try to predict which objects will float and which will sink. Were you right?


Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library—libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)


1. Sea Pictures is a song cycle by the English composer Sir Edward Elgar, consisting of five songs written by various poets.

The songs and poets are—

A. Sea Slumber Song by Roden Noel
B. In Haven (Capri) by Caroline Alice Edgar (the composer’s wife)
C. Sabbath Morning At Sea by  Elizabeth Barrett Browning
D. Where Corals Lie by Richard Garrett
E. The Swimmer by Adam Lindsay Gordon

Adam Lindsay Gordon, although born in the Azores and educated in England, lived most of his life in Australia. His collection—Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes—is regarded as one of the most important pieces of Australian literature.

Sea Pictures was composed in 1899 and premiered the same year with the famous contralto Dame Clara Butt singing, dressed as a mermaid! Two weeks later Dame Clara performed the cycle for Queen Victoria at Balmoral.


The music for Drunken Sailor was taken from a traditional Irish dance and march tune Oró Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile (“Oró, you are welcome home”).

First appearing in print as a sea shanty (shipboard working song) in 1824, the song was widely sung when hand-over-hand hauling on ships. It was also known as “Early In The Morning”.

The Australian composer Percy Grainger used the song and lyrics in his work Scotch Strathspey And Reel.

The main theme from the first movement of Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major by Shostakovich mimics Drunken Sailor.

The melody of Drunken Sailor is often used in SpongeBob Squarepants!


La Mer (The Sea) by the French composer Claude Debussy is a shimmering musical sketch inspired by the sea.  Debussy’s use of  instruments to create soundscapes and moods was groundbreaking for the time.

Movement 1 “From dawn to noon on the sea” is an instrumental mixture of floating colours. The music seems to wander around, never settling in to any form. The composer Erik Satie joked that he liked the part at 11.15am!

Movement 2  “Play of the waves” is much livelier, with orchestral swells imitating the waves.

Movement 3 “Dialogue of the wind and the sea” is very dramatic, illustrating the clashing forces of the wind and the ocean.

Although La Mer was not initially well-received when it premiered in France in 1905— due to lack of rehearsal—it soon became a great favourite of audiences at subsequent performances.

One American critic wasn’t so impressed however; he thought a better title would have been “Mal de Mer” which means seasick!


Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage is the name given to two much-loved pieces of music—a 1815 cantata by Beethoven and an 1828 concert overture by Mendelssohn—both set to poems by the German writer Goethe. Beethoven’s piece is dedicated to Goethe.

The poems are not synonymous; however, in the days before steam, a totally calm sea was cause for alarm—it is only when the wind rises that the ship can continue its voyage.

The first half of Beethoven’s cantata depicts a ship becalmed, the second half, its success in resuming its voyage.

Mendelssohn’s overture (inspired by Beethoven’s work—and in the same key, D Major) finishes with a fanfare of trumpets, suggesting the ship’s safe arrival at its final destination.

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 11 (winter 2011)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 10 (autumn 2011)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 9 (summer 2010).

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 8 (spring 2010).

teachers' resources

Activites for issue 11

Issue 11 cover, Alphabet Soup magazine


for Issue 11—WINGS

1. MAKE paper butterflies. Use a square of colourful paper or cut up some junk mail. Make concertina folds—fold the top edge of the paper down towards yourself in a thin rectangle. (Don’t fold the paper in half, that fold is too big!). Flip the paper over so that the folded side is now face down on the table and at the bottom of the page. Fold the bottom of the page up, so that the previous fold lines up with it. Flip the paper over again so the folded pieces are now face down on the table and at the top of the paper. Fold the paper from the top again and continue folding and flipping until the whole page has been folded like a concertina. Then pinch the rectangle at the centre and twist a pipecleaner (chenille stick) around it to hold it tight. The two ends of the pipecleaner will be the antennae. Fan out the wings a little. And make twenty more! (Perhaps you could attach them all to a coathanger to make a mobile.)

2. FOLD painted butterfly pictures. On a blank piece of paper, dab some blobs of paint around the middle section of the paper. Fold the paper in half (with the paint on the inside) and gently press it flat so the paint inside squishes about a bit. Open the paper and inspect your butterfly painting! (Great for cards or use as wrapping paper or stick on the fridge!)

3. PAPER AEROPLANE RACES: Grab some friends and check out a paper-aeroplane website to learn how to fold your favourite paper aeroplanes and then have a competition to see whose design is fastest or flies furthest or looks the coolest. (Record your predictions about which one you think will fly furthest, and write down the distances each plane flies. Then you might even convince your parents or your teacher that paper aeroplane flying is educational!)

4. GET BAKING!: Make some butterfly cupcakes. Try this recipe for cakes with wings, or this recipe using marshmallows and sour worms might be more your style. If butterflies aren’t your thing, can you think of a way to adapt these recipes to turn them into bat cakes or owl cakes?

5. READ some wing-themed books! For upper primary kids, we like Cicada Summer by Kate Constable, Storm Boy by Colin Thiele, for lower to middle primary kids, try The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, or Duck for a Day by Meg McKinlay and if you love picture books you could try The Truth About Penguins by Meg McKinlay & ill. Mark Jackson, The Story of Ping by Majorie Flack ill. Kurt Weise or the nonfiction picture book Australian Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars by Jill Morris & Lynne Tracey. Or read ‘The Six Swans’ folktale in the current issue of Alphabet Soup (or the poems also in the current issue!). Can you think of any others?


Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library—libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)


“Flight Of The Bumblebee” is a piece written by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera “The Tale Of Tsar Sultan”, composed in 1899-1900.

The piece is played at the end of Act Three, where the magic Swan-Bird changes the Tsar’s son into an insect so that he can fly away to visit his father (who does not know he is alive).

In 2010, the violinist Oliver Lewis broke the record for the fastest performance of “Flight Of The Bumblebee” – playing it in 1 minute and 3.356 seconds.


“The Butterfly Lovers” is a violin concerto co-written by Shanghai Conservatory of Music students Gang Chen and Zhanhao He in 1958.

It  premiered to great acclaim in 1959, but was then declared decadent five years later during the Cultural Revolution – and both composers were imprisoned. Their “crime” was attempting to fuse Western instrumentation and tonalities with traditional Chinese melodies.


The music for the ballet “Swan Lake” was written by  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The story is thought to be based on “The Stolen Veil” by the German author Johann Karl August Musäus and the Russian folktale “The White Duck” .

The premiere performance in 1877 was not a huge success.

The Russian ballerina Anna Sobeshchanskaya – for whom the role of Odette was originally intended – was removed from the performance, when a government official in Moscow complained about her, stating that she had accepted several pieces of expensive jewellery from him, and then married a fellow dancer – selling the jewellery for cash.

The dancers, decor and orchestra were all unanimously crtiicised, and Tchaikovsky’s music was considered too complicated for a ballet. His music was decried by critics as too noisy!

After Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893, the Italian composer Riccardo Drigo was granted permission by Tchaikovsky’s brother Modest to revise the music for the ballet’s revival.

It is Drigo’s revision of Tchaikovsky’s score of Swan Lake that is the most often performed and recognised today.


A traditional English folk song printed in the song book “Melismata”, compiled and published by the English composer Thomas Ravenscroft  in 1611. It is also known as “Twa Corbies” (“Two Ravens” or “Two Crows”) and most often sung to the Breton melody – “An Alarc’h” (“The Swan”).

The American scholar Francis James Child (appointed Harvard’s first ever Professor of English in 1876) included these versions in his  monumental five volume collection of English and Scottish ballads – The Child Ballads – released between 1892 and 1898.


“Le cygne” or “The Swan” is the thirteenth movement of “The Carnival Of The Animals” by Camille Saint-Saëns.
The famous piece features a solo cello.

This is the only movement from “The Carnival Of The Animals” that Saint-Saëns would allow to be played in public during his lifetime, as he thought the other movements were all too frivolous and would damage his reputation as a serious composer.

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 10 (autumn 2011)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 9 (summer 2010).

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 8 (spring 2010).


Issue 10 activities: mad scientists!

"Issue 10 cover Alphabet Soup"We’ve updated the ‘Activities’ page! (You’ll find the page on the menu across the top of the blog, under the header picture).



1. PLAY with chemistry online. Check out ChemiCroc—a cool website for primary school kids, with online activities.

2. Check out the International Year of Chemistry 2011: Australia website. There are some chemistry-related word searches and activities.

3. HANDS-ON CHEMISTRY: Visit the CSIRO website to see how you can make your own bath bombs. (Give as gifts, or drop one in your own bath and watch it FIZZ!)

4. TRY a YUMMY EXPERIMENT: experiment with reactions—visit the Science Wizard’s website to find out how to make your own sherbet. Yum! (You’ll find citric acid in the grocery store,  near tartaric acid.)

5. READ some chemistry-themed books! We like George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. Can you think of any others? Click here to tell us your favourites, and we’ll add them to the list!


Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library—libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)


"Music for the Royal Fireworks cover"This is a suite—originally for wind-band and later re-scored for orchestra—composed by George Frederic Handel in 1749. The music was commissioned by King George ll of Great Britain to celebrate the end of the War Of Austrian Succession and the signing of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.

The music was first publicly performed in rehearsal on 21st April 1749 in Vauxhall Gardens, London. Over twelve thousand people attended the rehearsal, causing a three hour traffic jam of carriages, after the central arch  on the newly built London Bridge collapsed.

During the actual concert on the 27th April, the musicians were housed in a purpose-built theatre which caught fire after the collapse of a bas-relief scultpure of King George during the fireworks!


In 2003, researchers in Italy began transforming the low-frequency seismic rumblings of volcanoes into musical scores in an effort to predict when the volcanoes would erupt. Researchers created a concerto from the underground movements of Mount Etna in Sicily and created melodies from Tungurahua in Ecuador. By correlating music with precise volcanic activity, researchers hope to learn the signature tune of an imminent eruption.

3. CARL PHILIPP EMMANUEL BACH (1714-88) compared the music of his father’s generation with “overly-spiced cooking”.

Erik Satie likened the chromaticism of Wagner’s music to sauerkraut!

Sergei Prokofiev compared the cloyingly sweet berries he sampled on a visit to the country with Chopin’s “effete” nocturnes.


Love Potion Number 9 is a classic popular song written in 1959 by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It was originally performed by The Clovers that year. The well-known version was recorded by The Searchers in 1963.

5. THE ENGLISH COMPOSER EDWARD ELGAR is said to have believed that the tune of the first of his “Pomp and Circumstance” marches would “knock ‘em flat”. As an amateur chemist, he proved that literally …

"Pomp and Circumstance cover"His friend, the conductor and composer William Henry Reed, tells how Elgar delighted in making a ‘phosphoric concoction’ which would explode spontaneously when dry—possibly Armstrong’s mixture, red phosphorus and potassium chlorate, used in toy cap guns. One day, Reed says, Elgar made a batch of the stuff but then musical inspiration struck. He put the mixture into a metal basin and dumped it in the water butt before returning to the house.

‘Just as he was getting on famously,’ wrote Reed, ‘writing in horn and trumpet parts, and mapping out wood-wind, a sudden and unexpected crash, as of all the percussion in all the orchestras on earth, shook the room … The water-butt had blown up: the hoops were rent: the staves flew in all directions; and the liberated water went down the drive in a solid wall. Silence reigned for a few seconds. Then all the dogs in Herefordshire gave tongue.’


See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 9 (summer 2010).

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 8 (spring 2010).

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 7 (winter 2010).

info, teachers' resources

Activities page for issue 9

"Alphabet Soup magazine issue 9 cover"We’ve updated the ‘Activities’ page! (You can find it on the menu across the top of the blog, under the header picture). If you click on it, you will find a list of activities to go with the theme of each issue (starting from issue 7), and a music listening list—compiled by Danielle Joynt of Cantaris.

For each issue of the magazine (starting with issue 7), we will add activities and a themed listening list to this page. Enjoy!



1. PLAY wetlands-themed games, like ‘Leap Frog’, or ‘Duck, Duck Goose’.

2. PLAY online games and quizzes and learn at the same time—visit the Water Corporation’s website.

3. FIND OUT about frogs in your local area. Research to find out what you can do to protect them. Some frogs in Australia are under threat. To identify frogs (and their calls) visit the WA Museum website, or the Frogs Australia website.

4. ADOPT a local wetlands area—visit it regularly with family or friends to collect rubbish to keep it healthy.


You will need: 1 packet green jelly, 1 chocolate frog per person, 1 clear plastic cup per person.

What to do: make the jelly according to the directions on the packet. Put it in the fridge. When cooled, but not set, add a chocolate frog to each cup. Return to fridge until jelly is set. EAT! Yum.

If you’d like to make a feature pond for a party table, use two or more packets of green jelly and use a large clear glass bowl. Add some of the chocolate frogs to the cooled jelly (before it sets). ‘Float’ some nasturtium leaves (to be lily pads) on the top of the jelly once it has set. Sit the remaining chocolate frogs on the lily pads. Give everyone a spoon and eat!


Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library—libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)

1. PETER SCULTHORPE"sculthorpe---songs of sea and sky (cd cover)"

Peter Sculthorpe is an Australian composer (1929 –   ) whose music often evokes the sound and feeling of the Australian bush and outback. His works “Kakadu” “Mangrove” and “Earth Cry” reflect the vastness of the Australian landscape and the sounds of Australian wildlife. He often uses the Aboriginal chant—Djiilili—in his works. Djilili means “whistling duck on a billabong”.


Hear a Frog Round for three voices (see the free mp3 at bottom right of the Cantaris site)


The Russian composer  and teacher Anatoly Liadov (1855-1914)  arranged eight Russian folk songs for orchestra, including his famous wok “The Enchanted Lake” and “Last Night I Danced With A Mosquito”. Liadov was a wonderful  but very strict music teacher, and taught theory to the young Prokofiev.

"carnival of the animals (cd cover)"4. CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS-–CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS

Camillle Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) is the French composer of Carnival Of The Animals (1886).
Saint-Saëns wrote Carnival Of The Animals as a musical jest, and after the piece’s first private premiere, Saint-Saëns forbade it to be played in public—feeling it might damage his reputation as a serious composer.
He only allowed one movement—”Le cygne” (“The Swan”) to be published during his lifetime.

Carnival Of The Animals was only published as a whole after the composer’s death, and has since become one of the world’s most famous and best-loved pieces of music.


The music for the ballet “Swan Lake”was composed over twelve months in 1875 and 1876 by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). When the ballet premiered in St Petersburg in 1877 it was a  dreadful failure, due to the very poor stage production. Most critics considered Tchaikovsky’s music far too complicated for ballet! The production was revised several times, and the musical score was revised after Tchaikovsky’s death by the Italian composer Riccardo Drigo. It is his revision of Tchaikovsky’s orignial score which is most often performed to the Swan Lake ballet today.


The “Water Music” is a collection of orchestral movements composed by George Frederic Handel. It premiered on the 17th July 1717 after King George 1 requested a concert on the River Thames. The piece was performed by fifty musicians on a barge near the Royal Barge from which the King listened with his close friends. King George I loved the music so much that he asked the exhausted musicians to play the whole work three times!


“The Trout Quintet” is the name given to the Piano Quintet in A Major by Franz Schubert (1797-1828). The quintet was composed in 1819, when Schubert was 22 years old, but was not published until 1829, a year after he had died. The usual instrumentation of a piano quintet is for piano, two violins, viola and cello; however, Schubert wrote his Trout Quintet for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass.

The Quintet is called “The Trout” because the fourth movement is a set of variations on Schubert’s earlier Lied (the German word for “song”) “Die Forelle”(“The Trout”).


Several songs are based on the poem “How Doth The Little Crocodile” by Lewis Carroll, which appears in his book “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland”

“The Little Crocodile” by Gary Buchland (1991) from Alice Songs
“The Little Crocodile” from “Five Lewis Carroll Poems” No 3 by John Woods Duke (1899 – 1984)
“How Doth The Little Crocodile” (1908) by Liza Lehmann (1862 – 1918)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 8 (spring 2010).

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 7 (winter 2010).

teachers' resources

Activities page for issue 8

Issue 8—spring 2010

ACTIVITIES"Issue 8 cover"

1. VISIT the Arts Alive site! You can look at virtual instruments and click to hear a short sample of what each instrument in an orchestra sounds like.

2. MAKE your own musical instruments. There are some ideas on page 14 of the spring issue but we’re sure you can come up with some of your own. (Raid your craft box, or even the saucepans drawer!)

3. HOW MANY WAYS can you make music with your body? (Have you ever made a popping sound with your finger in your mouth? Try stomping your feet on the floor, clicking your fingers, or slapping your hands on your legs.) Chant and clap rhymes like ‘Miss Mary Mack’.

4. SING A ROUND with a friend. Do you remember Three Blind Mice? Start singing, and when you start singing ‘See How they Run’, that’s when your friend starts at the beginning of the song. If you haven’t tried it before it can be hard not to sing your friend’s part! (If you have a third friend, they can start singing or chanting from the beginning when you start the part that goes ‘They all run after the farmer’s wife”.)

Try chanting it instead of singing. It can get very noisy!

5. HAVE A RHYME-OFF. Find a friend (or find a whole bunch of friends and separate into two teams). The aim of the game is to see who remembers the most Nursery Rhymes. The first team begins by singing or chanting one verse of a Nursery Rhyme. When they finish, the second team has five counts to start singing or chanting another Nursery Rhyme. And when they finish, the first team has five counts to come up with another Nursery Rhyme. And so on. The winner is the team who sang or chanted the last nursery rhyme.

Appoint someone to be the umpire to make sure no-one repeats a Nursery Rhyme or goes beyond the 5 counts, to say whether they’ll accept a particular song as a Nursery Rhyme or not, and to decide how many people on a team have to know the rhyme for it to ‘count’.

OR divide the grown-ups into groups at the next family gathering and YOU be the umpire! (Grown-ups know heaps of Nursery Rhymes, they just need their memories jogged a little!)


Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library – libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)


There are many, many beautiful pieces written for the viola – with and without orchestra. Here are just a selection –

(i) Sinfonia Concertanate (1779) by Mozart. This was one of the first pieces to treat violas and violins as equal partners. Before this, Bach, Handel and Vivaldi had given the viola important passages in several of their fugues and concertos.
(ii) Potpourri. Johann Hummel – a virtuoso pianist and pupil of Mozart – wrote “Potpourri” for Viola and Orchestra and the shortened version – “Fantasy” is a staple of viola repertoire. It contains many quotes from the operas of Mozart and Rossini.
(iii) “Harold In Italy”
by Berlioz, is a four-part work with extensive viola solo throughout. Berlioz composed “Harold In Italy” at the suggestion of Paganini. Paganini had acquired a superb Stradivarius viola, but lamented to Berlioz that there was no music good enough for him to play on it. He asked Berlioz to compose a solo piece for viola, adding the Berlioz was the only one he could trust.

When Berlioz showed Paganini the Allegro movement – which had lots of rests for viola – Paganini took offence, telling Berlioz it would not do, as he expected to be playing continuously. The two then parted ways. When Paganini heard it – years after it was written – he loved it!

William Primrose (see below) made the first recording of this work in 1946.

(In 2009, the composer/accordionist William Schimmel wrote the piece ” Harold is alive and doing (seemingly) OK somewhere in Lisbon” for chamber orchestra and solo accordion, instead of viola)

(iv) William Primrose, Lionel Tertis and Paul Hindemith were viola virtuosos in the twentieth century. Hindemith wrote concertos for the Viola, as well as pieces for Viola and Piano and solo Viola works.

(v) Ralph Vaughn- Williams composed the Suite for Viola and Orchestra in 1934 for Lionel Tertis. The suite is a beautiful set of dances.

(vi) William Walton wrote  his Viola Concerto in 1929, for the Viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis. Tertis originally shunned the work, with Paul Hindemith premiering the work that same year, with Walton conducting.

Lionel Tertis later took up the work himself . Yehudi Menuhin and Nigel Kennedy have also recorded the concerto on viola, although they are better known as violinists.

(vii) In January, 1945, William Primrose commissioned a viola concerto from Bela Bartok.  Already gravely ill with leukemia, Bartok began the work and, by September, had completed the viola part and sketches for the orchestra. He died later hat month, however, and the concerto was completed by his pupil Tibor Serly. Bartok’s son Peter revised the concerto in the 1990s. There are four versions – all completed by different composers – in existence – and all hotly discussed and disputed!


Sumer is Icumen In is the oldest surviving round in English. (See an image of the manuscript here.) Here’s the Hilliard Ensemble performing it:

The first published rounds in English were by Thomas Ravenscroft in 1609. Including –

Three Blinde Mice,
Three Blinde Mice,
Dame lulian,
Dame lulian,
The Miller and his merry olde Wife,
shee scrapte her tripe licke thou the knife.

(What do you think that song is about? The words use old fashioned spelling but can you recognise the song?)

Hear a Frog Round for three voices (see the free mp3 at bottom right of the Cantaris site)

Popular rounds you might know include –
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
London’s Burning
Frère Jacques

Chant is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds.
Chant is found all over the world  African, Native American and Australian Aboriginal culture, Gregorian chant, Vedic chant, Jewish chant, Buddhist chant, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican chant.

Rounds were also mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays!


Well-known Bagpipe pieces include “Scotland The Brave” and “Amazing Grace”, although there are thousands of traditional bagpipe pieces (and many different types of traditional bagpipes) from all over the world. Listen to The Pipes and Drums of the Chicago Police Department perform Amazing Grace:

In modern culture, they can be heard on many pieces, including “Mull Of Kintyre” by Paul McCartney and “Orkney Wedding. With Sunrise” by Peter Maxwell Davies.


In 1803, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote a poem based on the story of the Pied Piper that was later set to music by Hugo Wolf.

“Der Rattenfänger von Hamelin” is an opera in five acts by Viktor Nessler to a German libretto by Friedrich Hofmann.

John Corigiliano composed “The Pied Piper Fantasy” (1982), a concerto for flute and orchestra, first performed by the flautist James Galway.

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 7 (winter 2010).

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Activities and a listening list!

Hurrah!issue 7 cover

We have added a new page to Soup Blog called ‘Activities’ (you can find it on the menu across the top of the blog, under the header picture). If you click on it, you will find a list of activities to go with the theme of each issue (starting from issue 7), and a music listening list – compiled by Danielle Joynt of Cantaris.

Check out what’s new for issue 7!

Issue 7 – winter 2010


1. Visit the Classroom Antarctica site! It’s an online teaching resource produced by the Australian Antarctic Division, with activities suited to upper primary school classes.

2. Create some icy paintings. Add some food dye to water and freeze in an icecube tray. Once frozen, use the ‘paint blocks’ to create watery, icy paintings!

3. Hand sculpture. Fill a rubber washing-up glove with water and put it in the freezer. (Check with a parent first!) When frozen, peel or cut away the glove and you have a frozen hand! (It looks good as a centrepiece for a winter-themed party.) How does it feel? How do you think it would feel to be an ice maiden (or an ice boy)? Perhaps you could write a poem or a story about it? When you are finished admiring your ice hand, leave it in the garden to melt away.

4. a) Create your own paper snowflake: Younger children

  • Cut a circle out of white paper.
  • Fold your circle in half, and in half again and snip tiny shapes along the folded edge.
  • Then fold it one more time (still keeping a flat ‘cone’ shape) and cut out some more tiny shapes.
  • Open the circle out and admire your patterns. You can cut shapes along the outside edge of your circle to make it more like a snowflake if you like.
  • Glue your snowflake onto some dark-coloured cardboard.

4. b) Create your own paper snowflake: Older children

Visit the WikiHow site for instructions on how to create your own 3D snowflake!


Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library – libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)

1. ‘Antarctica’ by Nigel Westlake, Australian composer (1958 –     ).Out of the blue (album cover)

He wrote two versions – both beautiful:
‘Antarctica (The Film Music)’ for the IMAX film of the same name and
‘Antarctica – Suite for Guitar and Orchestra’ (a reworking of the film music)
found on the CD Out Of The Blue (ABC Classics, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Timothy Kain-guitar)

Nigel Westlake was born in Perth and is a very fine clarinettist as well as composer. He has written music for many films including Miss Potter and Babe.

2. ‘Winter’ from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi, Venetian Composer  (1678 – 1741).

‘Winter’ is one of a set of four violin concertos called The Four Seasons. They were composed in 1723, and the concertos vary in texture, according to the season each represents. ‘Winter’ contains lots of high, sharp notes, evoking icy rain.

Each of the four concertos is based on a sonnet describing a season. No-one knows who wrote the sonnets – but it is widely held that  Vivaldi  was the poet.  You can find an English translation of the sonnets online (scroll down to find the ‘Winter’ concerto and sonnet.)

3. ‘German Dance’ K605 No.3 ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian Composer, (1756-1791)
Mozart began writing dances when he was five years old. There are over 200 dances written by Mozart that are still preserved.

4. ‘The Snow Is Dancing’ from Children’s Corner by Achille-Claude Debussy, French Composer (1862 – 1918).
Children’s Corner is a suite of six movements for solo piano written by Debussy in 1908 for his daughter Chou-Chou, who was three years old at the time.

5. ‘Water Under Snow Is Weary’ by Eha Lättemäe and Harri Wessman.

This beautiful choral piece is based on the Kalevala melody in the Finnish folk tradition and was especially written for Finland’s famous Tapiola choir. The Kalevala is a book and poem  compiled from Finnish and Karelian folklore – it is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature.

6. The Snow Maiden by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian composer (1844-1908).
Rimsky-Korsakov wrote the music and libretto (words) to this four-act opera in 1880 and 1881. The ‘Dance Of The Tumblers’ is a famous piece of music from this opera.

7. Ngo Wak Tö Wal-lah Yah – Alaskan Eskimo Chant

8. Winterreise (Winter Journey) by Franz Schubert, Austrian Composer (1797-1828)

This  is a song cycle of 24 poems by the German poet Wilhelm Müller set to the music of Franz Schubert .


The place to be in Perth city!

On Sunday 24 May, we went to the launch of the new children’s library at the State Library of WA. The new library is called ‘The Place’, and on Sunday it really was the place to be! 'The Place'  at the State Library of WA

On our way in, we passed a butterfly stiltwalker. The three year old with us was mesmerised. (Later, the stiltwalker was her pick for ‘best part of the visit.’)

First we visited the music library – as part of the launch celebrations there were energetic music sessions run by Danielle Joynt (of Cantaris and Cottage Music fame). There were posters up to say we could find children’s music at the library, and borrow it too. So we walked along the shelves looking for books of folksongs (we’re rather partial to folksongs) – to the rhythm of Danielle’s maraccas, which were being shaken by an enthusiastic group of kids.

On another floor we came across a glass display case with the smallest book and the oldest book in the library. The smallest book was very very small. Someone  nearby asked ‘how would you READ it? It’s so small you’d need a magnifying glass!’ One book on display had been munched by termites. The munching was actually done in a rather artistic way, but we all felt very sorry for that book (and its owner!).

We arrived at the mezzanine level (the children’s library itself), and found ourselves in the middle of  a story-reading session. It was Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion, an old favourite of mine.  All around us there were kids playing games and doing puzzles on the computers, reading books inside ‘book cubbies’, playing with large puppets, checking out the totem book sculpture, and reading the displays of certificates showing the favourite childhood books of some well-known Australians. (Enid Blyton was very popular. We were pleased to see the Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek by Jenny Wagner got a mention too!) We looked up Paul Jennings and the Prime Minister’s favourite books among many others! The children's library

We also loved the exhibition of children’s picture book artwork, and a display with the puppet from Cat Balloon, on loan from Spare Parts Puppet Theatre.

There were balloons for everyone on the way out – and as we were leaving we ducked into the State Library shop to look at the pre-read library books which were so cheap. We love second-hand books!

The Place‘ is definitely worth visiting! There are heaps of books, and lots of space to find a comfy spot to read. And you can see the ‘favourite childhood books’ display until 19 July – so we won’t tell you what the Prime Minister’s favourite is, in case you want to find out for yourself! It’s very easy to get to by train, as the State Library is only a short walk from the train station. Check it out!