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Dynamic Scary Story with Explain Everything

October Magic : Telling a Dynamic Scary Story with Explain Everything

Tell a Scary sTory

What better way to demonstrate understanding of musical dynamics than to use them to tell a scary story  using the Explain Everything iPad app.

The story before the story

The history of musical dynamics is so interesting. Before we started this activity, and as a review, I took  my students to this site to see the evolution of the modern orchestra. I showed  this image  and then we had a great time brainstorming how and why “volume”  or dynamics has changed.

“There are more instruments,” “Bach didn’t have a Sousaphone,” “The metal is stronger,” “They have better spit valves,” “They have invented louder sounding instruments,” “The place where the orchestra plays is better for concerts,” “They get paid lots of money and get better training,” are just a few of the reasons why my students thought the dynamics could now be so much broader.

We quickly transitioned to the questions: How do changes in volume make the music more interesting? How can changes in volume make our telling of stories more interesting? Let’s put it to the test! Let’s see if using dynamics really will make our story more interesting. Let’s tell a Dynamic Scary Story with Explain Everything!

Scary Dynamic Story Directions:

Scary Dynamics Story for halloween 2

  • Students were given a paper copy of the Scary Dynamic Story. 
  • We briefly practiced reading each stanza with proper dynamic volume and expression
  • I demonstrated how to create a NEW project in Explain Everything > choose a black background theme > change the pen size to broad and white > reviewed how to add pages and re-record if they messed up.
  • Instructions given:
    • In Explain Everything, draw the dynamic marking on the page and record the stanza.
    • For each new stanza, add a page, draw the dynamic marking, and record the lines.
    • When you finish, listen to each page to hear if your volume increased
    • Save your project, give it a title,
    • Save MOVIE to the camera roll.
    • Open the Dropbox folder and upload the scary story movie

Dynamics over time

Musical Dynamics + Scary Story + Explain Everything = October Magic

What started out as a simple exercise in telling a scary story turned into magic when Explain Everything was included as a tool to demonstrate understanding. Each student recorded their own Dynamic Scary Story with Explain Everything –  complete with creepy expression. It was easy, it was tangible – each page had to be a different dynamic marking, and it was fun. They were so into it as they recorded and re-recorded to get it just right. Even the shyest children were working to create magic. And what a cool way for their classroom teachers to assess their reading fluency.


Dynamic Scary Story Examples

Here are a few links to samples – there are many more on my YouTube channel if you are interested in viewing other examples.

monstersmummy2Share the Scare!

Our plan is to share these Musical Dynamics Scary Stories with our PreK, Kindergarten, and 1st graders on Halloween and I’ll also put them up on our school’s website for parents and teachers to enjoy/access. I think it’s pretty cool when I can go up to a mom and brag about their quiet child’s creative work, or to the parent of the struggling reader to let him/her hear their child’s progress, or listen and watch as every single student is engaged in the creative process. Sure, we’re always going to have those students who shine on everything, who naturally steal the attention away from those less outgoing; but the iPad allows individual children to demonstrate mastery in their own way without comparison and without fear. It’s booootiful!

Thanks to Ashley Lundquist, Mt-BC  for this idea  and  Scary-Dynamics-Story from her Music Therapy site!

I hope you can use the Dynamic Scary Story with Explain Everything idea this Halloween season. It certainly would work for just a few iPads if you don’t have access to 1:1 devices.  This activity is just a win-win in every way: seasonal, kid-friendly, demonstrates mastery of musical dynamics, demonstrates reading fluency, students can work independently and the final project can be shared across grade levels by their reading buddies.

Teaching with technology is so stinkin’ cool! Get busy and make magic happen in your room this week!





P.S. Here is a QR code to download this Scary Dynamic Explain Everything file or you may download it at the bottom of this post.

Save this QR image and have your students scan to download and open in Explain Everything.


Dynamics Over Time
Dynamics Over Time
148.0 KiB
Scary Dynamic Master 17
Scary Dynamic Master 17
1.8 MiB
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Cherie Herring

Music/Technology Integration at Hammond School
I teach elementary music, am passionate about integrating technology into my teaching, am obsessed with my SMARTBoard and iPad, and enjoy creating lessons and sharing ideas. I love technology almost as much as I love cheesecake, and with more energy and ideas than I know what to do with, I can't wait for the sun to come up each morning! I'm wife to Prince Charming and mom to three incredible girls who keep me balanced. . . sort of!

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Diana August 5, 2017, 10:07 PM

    Thank you Cherie for the Scary Story/ Dynamics activity with Explain Everything.
    I look forward trying it with my music students.



    • Cherie Herring August 5, 2017, 10:46 PM

      You’re very welcome, Diana! Please let me know how it goes with your students. I know they’ll love it!!

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