Composing with Kids: My Elephant Song

Elephant's truck swings to and fro.
Left, right, stomp, stomp, watch him go.

Composing with kids is such a fun way to make music together! 

When children compose their own music they're doing a few complex activities at once: 

  • They're thinking critically about how sounds are made, and how they can create their own.
  • They're analyzing what they hear.
  • They're practicing reading and writing music.

Musical, Magical, Natural

Very young children make up music of their own quite naturally. If you have a toddler you'll probably notice her singing chant-like songs that she's made up on her own. These songs are very simple and are normally about every day activities. Your toddler probably isn't aware that anyone is listening to her sing, and she probably doesn't care too much if her song is "good" or "bad". 

However, something happens around 4 or 5 years old in the creative mind of a child. Children tend to stop making up their own music around this time and opt to sing songs other people have made up instead (songs from the radio, their friends, their music teacher, etc.).

The tendency to naturally create music of their own decreases as children get older. They start becoming more aware of their singing voice, the singing voices of others around them, and whether they sound "right" or "wrong". They start to become aware of whether or not they are singing the songs correctly, as they have been taught to sing them.

Where Did the Creativity Go?

This awareness isn't a bad thing at all. It's what helps children learn. However, we've lost part of the magic of music if we leave out the process of creating and only focus on singing songs correctly.

Composing helps us reconnect with the musical part of ourselves that still has ideas, the part of ourselves that likes to try new things.

It's so important to teach children from a very young age not to become disconnected with this creative process. And it's not such a difficult thing to teach. You don't have to show your child how to compose a symphony or a choral masterpiece.

You can simply help him write down Sol, Mi, and La. 


WAMM Graphics Mess Around-04.jpg

In this post we'll learn a very easy way to begin composing with children by using a short poem about elephants to make up our own melody.

It's going to be a blast! 

In order to do this activity, we'll need to know how to do a few things: 

Let's get started.

The Making of the Secret Elephant Song

Camille Saint-Saens wrote a very clever piece about elephants that we listened to here

In order to make this piece sound like an elephant, Saint-Saens had to think about a few things: 

  • How fast or slow should the song be in order to sound like an elephant? 
  • Should the instrument be high or low? 
  • Should a piece about an elephant be loud or quiet? 

Can you imagine what the song would have sounded like if Saint-Seans had chosen a flute instead of the double bass? 

What about if he had chosen to make the song quiet and fast? Would it have still sounded like an elephant?

My guess is probably not. 

These are all things composers have to think about when they're writing music. 

Be the Composer!

It's your turn to compose a song of your own!

Print off the free printable below:


Writing a Melody:

In the boxes above the words, write in S, M, or L for Sol, Mi, or La to write your own melody.

The words and rhythms to the song are already there. 

Musical Decisions: 

Once you have your melody, think about how to make it sound like an elephant, just like Saint-Saens did. 

  • Fast or Slow? 
  • Loud or Quiet? 
  • High or Low?

What's in a Name: 

When you're done writing the music, give your song a name and write it at the top. 

Elephant Show:

Then you're done! Perform your elephant song for someone. They'll love it. 

I can't wait to see what you come up with! 

If you're proud of your elephant song, show me your work by taking a picture and emailing me at, or clicking the email button below.

Keep singing, 
- Victoria