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Carnival Of The Animals Lion Analysis Essay

Lesson Focus

How do different animals move or behave? How are animals alike and different?

Overview of Lesson

This one-day lesson culminates the focus on a selected animal (the lion) from The Carnival of the Animals. It allows students to synthesize and extend their learning, while exploring and developing vocabulary using multiple sources and modalities. In this language-rich lesson, students are introduced to the concept of action words and that sometimes; there can be more than one word to describe a similar action - "shades of meaning among verbs." (L.K.5.d)

They will:

  1. use multiple texts to determine how a lion behaves and express its behaviors with action words (verbs);
  2. listen to and discuss a humorous verse about the lion from Jack Prelutsky's The Carnival of the Animals;
  3. act out action words pertinent to the lion while listening to the corresponding piece of Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals music;
  4. draw and write about lion behavior, using action words.
Teacher Planning, Preparation, and Materials

Teacher Planning

  • Prior to this Day 5 lesson, have students create a large paper lion (using coloring, painting, or multi-media approaches) at the art center or in art class. Have the lion face to the left, since this will be displayed as part of a parade of animals, of which the lion comes first.
  • Write a label on a sentence strip: A lion _______.
  • Gather the previously-read text from Days 1-2: Lions by Catherine Ipcizaide. Mark the following pages with Post-It notes to prepare for the lesson: pages 4, 10, 14, 16.
  • Prepare word cards on cut-apart sentence strips: roars, roams, hides, hunts and/or catches, protects.
  • Gather The Carnival of the Animals, book and CD; new verses by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Mary GrandPre, music by Camille Saint-Saens.
  • Gather a CD player and The Carnival of the Animals CD.
  • Gather a pocket chart.
Lesson Materials
  • Literary text: "The Lion" from The Carnival of the Animals, new verse by Jack Prelutsky, stanza 1
  • Informational text: Lions by Catherine Ipcizaide, pages 4, 8, 10, 14, 16.
  • Pocket chart
  • Large cut-out paper lion
  • Sentence strip label for the lion: A lion ______.
  • Word cards – action words: roars, roams, hides, hunts, protects
  • "Royal March of the Lion" from Carnival of the Animals CD.
  • CD player and The Carnival of the Animals CD.

Text Complexity

  • Quantitative Factor: Lexile levels for poetry cannot be measured. However, this collection of animal poems by Jack Prelutsky is marketed for children ages 5 through Grade 3.
  • Qualitative Factors: Visual supports include colorful photographs (informational text) and humorous illustrations (literary text) which exaggerate the lion's characteristics. Language features include a straightforward, simply written informational text with rich action words; a humorous, playful verse with short lines of rhyming text. The verse assumes that the reader has some prior knowledge about a lion's behaviors, in order to interpret the humor.
  • Reader and Task Factors include: student interest in subject, background knowledge about lions, art connection, links between previous learning (content from informational text) with new learning (literary verse, introduction to action words, and music connection), response through movement to demonstrate animal behaviors and shades of meaning about some verbs; and choice of responses through drawing and writing.


  • Use document camera to display text(s) in order to be accessible to all students.
  • Use pictures to accompany words on word cards.
  • Provide individual word banks for students with far-point copying challenges.
  • Record dictations, facilitate computer responses, and provide resources such as pictures, slant boards, and/or interactive white boards for students with fine motor challenges.
  • Provide differentiated approaches to written responses, as a means of assessment – tiered writing opportunities, based upon needs and strengths.
    • Sentence frames to complete, rather than writing the short sentence.
    • Picture-word cards to use in place of drawing or writing.
    • Opportunities to write more than one action by adding the conjunction and.
    • Opportunities to write more than one sentence to provide details about an action.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Consider the need for Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) and/or for captioned/described video when selecting texts, novels, video and/or other media for this unit. See "Sources for Accessible Media" for suggestions. See Maryland Learning Links: http://marylandlearninglinks.org.

IMPORTANT NOTE: No text model or website referenced in this unit has undergone a review. Before using any of these materials, local school systems should conduct a formal approval review of these materials to determine their appropriateness. Teacher should always adhere to any Acceptable Use Policy enforced by their local school system.

Lesson Procedure
  1. Display the class-made representation of a lion, completed at the art center or in Art class earlier in the week, at the top of a pocket chart. Place the sentence strip label below the lion: A lion _____.
  2. Motivate the students by reading the humorous first stanza of "The Lion" by Jack Prelutsky from The Carnival of the Animals.
    • Reread and discuss the line: If you should hear his frightful roars, Remove yourself to distant shores.
    • Have students make a frightful roar.
    • Examine Mary GrandPre's illustration of a frightful roar.
  3. Activate students' prior knowledge by linking to the earlier lesson about lions. (Days 1-2)
    • Turn to page 19 in the informational text, Lions.
    • Compare the lion in the photograph to the lion in the GrandPre illustration.
    • What are both lions doing?
    • Point out that one of the most distinctive behaviors or actions of a lion is that it roars.
    • Refer to the sentence on the pocket chart, and complete it: A lion roars.
    • Place the word roars below the blank.
    • Read the sentence together.
    • Explain: Roars is an action word – it tells what the lion is doing.
    • What are other actions or behaviors of a lion?
  4. Segue into the objective by stating or reading: Today we will identify what lions do (or how they behave) by finding action words from our texts that describe them.
  5. Have students identify the action words about lions' behavior, based upon the informational text, and place the words on the pocket chart below the sentence strip to create a list. Have students act out the verbs as they are identified, when appropriate. Note that sometimes there is more than one word that can describe or mean approximately the same thing.
    • Page 4 – roams
      • To roam means to wander around a large area, frequently in search of something. A lion wanders or roams around parts of Africa in search of territory and/or food. The words – wander and roam – mean about the same thing.
    • Page 10 – hides
      • To hide means to be unseen by others. The lion hides in the tall savannah grasses. The lion is camouflaged.
    • Page 14 – hunts
      • To hunt means to search for other animals to eat. A female lion hunts in a pack.
      • To catch means to grab or attack other animals. They catch wildebeests, zebras, and buffalo to eat. A lion catches animals with its sharp claws and bites them with its wide jaws.
      • Catches and attacks mean about the same thing, in this context. Both action words give more information about how the lion hunts.
      • Compare the photograph on page 17 with the GrandPre illustration to notice the lions' enormous mouth, fang-like teeth, and spiky paws.
    • Page 18 – 20 – protects
      • To protect means to guard, to watch over someone or something.
      • The male lion protects his territory. He keeps other animals, including other lions, away.
      • The female lion protects her cubs. She keeps them safe.
      • Both male and female lions will fight as a way to protect.
    • Reread the complete list of action words in the sentence frame.
  6. Return to Prelutsky's verse to interpret the meaning of this line:
    • Read: "It's evident the lion is king, In charge of almost everything."
    • How is the lion a king?
    • Look at GrandPre's illustration -the top of the lion's mane resembles a crown – one with spikes. What does this tell us about the "king"?
    • The lion is a predator of other animals. It is dangerous. The lion preys on other animals. The lion is at the top of the animal kingdom. The lion rules or reigns.
  7. Note that both texts give us insights into how lions behave through their illustrations, photographs, and words. Explain that music can also depict how an animal behaves.
    • Introduce the music for Carnival of the Animals: The composer, Camille Saint-Saens, wrote music for a collection of animals, including a lion. He wrote short pieces of music for the different animals. Carnival of the Animals is one of the most famous pieces of classical music in the world.
    • Saint-Saens wrote "Royal March of the Lion" to illustrate through music that the lion is "the king."
    • Have students listen to a portion of the music and discuss: How does the lion move? The lion walks proudly – he strides.
    • He walks like a king. He struts.
    • Refer to the illustration on the cover of the book, The Carnival of the Animals.
    • The lion's music is called a royal march, as if he is in a parade or procession for a king. He marches.
    • Have students practice demonstrating the meaning of these action words by striding, then strutting, and finally marching.
    • Have students act out the words as they listen to the music, distinguishing between shades of meaning among these verbs.
    • Encourage children to incorporate other actions (except hunting) into their dramatization and to roar at the appropriate places in the music.
  8. Return students to the carpet.
  9. Summarize the learning: Today we identified what lions do (how lions behave) by finding action words from our texts, including the illustrations, photographs, and words, as well as from Camille Saint-Saens' music. We acted out the words to understand their meaning. We acted out the words to understand more about how lions behave. (Essential Question)
  10. Routine writing: Have students respond by drawing and writing how a lion behaves. (For highly-able students, encourage them to write more than one action word, or multiple sentences about one action.)
    • Refer to the sentence frame on the pocket chart: A lion _____.
    • Tell students that the list of action words serves as a word bank for their reference. Alternatively, have students use their encoding skills to sound out words.
    • Have students write a sentence (or complete a sentence frame) to describe how a lion behaves. Have them create an illustration to match their words.
    • Remind students to put spaces between their words, and that a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period.
    • Place writing pages in students' individual "Carnival of Animals" books.
  11. Display the paper lion with the sentence strip and corresponding action words in a prominent place to begin the Carnival of Animals parade. This display will be updated weekly, as additional animals are taught. Post the essential question above it: How do animals behave? How are animals different and alike?
CCSS Standards Alignment

Reading: Literature

RL.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
RL.K.5 Recognize common types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems).
RL.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

Reading: Informational Text

RI.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
RI.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

Reading: Foundational Skills

RF.K.1 Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
RF.K.1a Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.
RF.K.1b Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.
RF.K.1c Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.


W.K.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
W.K.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Speaking & Listening

SL.K.2 Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
SL.K.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.


L.K.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
L.K.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
L.K.2a Capitalize the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I
L.K.2b Recognize and name end punctuation.
L.K.5 With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
L.K.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

Saint-Saëns - Carnival of the Animals

As far as Saint-Saëns is concerned, the two big works of 1886 were the Organ Symphony and the Carnival of the Animals.

It's one of his most popular works, but Saint-Saëns premiered his ‘grand zoological fantasy’ privately. It was written as a bit of fun for friends, and Saint-Saëns even requested that it was never published or performed throughout his lifetime as he thought the work detracted from his 'serious' image! Only 'The Swan' was published in his lifetime, but the 14 movement piece has now become a cornerstone of classical music.

Each of the music's 14 movements represents a different animal, including a lion, donkey, and elephant, as well as fossils, an aquarium, an aviary and - Saint-Saëns' little joke - pianists, possibly the most dangerous animal of them all...

The music is beautiful, funny, and clever all at once. The Swan, one of the most iconic movements, is scored for two pianos and a cello solo, with the calming cello tune representing the bird's effortless gliding, and the rolling piano chords paint a musical picture of the swan's hidden feet, paddling furiously under the water.

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