The Sound of Music movie version, with all its singing, dancing, character intricacies and interaction, presents possibilities for lesson plans for high school and middle school that are rich and varied in nature, even if the movie itself appears to be light and airy entertainment on the surface.
Lesson Plans for High School ESL Students Incorporating ‘The Sound of Music’ Movie
In The Journal of Imagination in Language Learning and Teaching, educator Gina Milano outlines her methods of using songs and videos from well-known Broadway plays to teach English as a second language.
Milano points out that musicals in the classroom offer engaging opportunities for students to expand vocabulary, familiarize themselves with colloquial expressions and learn everyday grammatical structures. Watching TheSound of Music video aids in developing awareness of nonverbal expression and exposes students to cultural issues as well.
Because of its snappy, familiar tunes and easy-to-remember song lyrics, The Sound of Music movie is rich in material for ESL learners. Milano offers an extensive English lesson plan that utilizes the song “My Favorite Things” as she teaches her students.
Lesson Plans for High School and Middle School Students Extending Concepts in ‘The Sound of Music’
Wisconsin educator Leslie A. Thomas, in Wisconsin University’s Ideas Resource, presents a middle school lesson plan suitable for grade levels 5 to 8 in language arts, music education and theater education classes. Her plan extends over three 45-minute class periods. She teaches that the movie presentation of Maria was not true to the real character and reads a biographical story about the real Maria von Trapp. She has each sturead the authentic ending of the story and create an original ending hat is more true-to-life for Maria or another character of the von Trapp family.
The teacher might use this lesson to introduce students to the concept of verisimilitude in this type of middle school lesson plan.
Younger students might enjoy the book, Maria von Trapp: Beyond The Sound of Music,by Candice F. Ransom.
Examples of questions teachers can use in their questions or discussion prompts include:
1. What character do you admire most in The Sound of Music? Why?
2. Can you identify in any way with this character? In what ways are you two alike or different?
3. Why do you think the author ended the movie as he did? Do you think it would be better if it ended differently?
4. How might you change the ending? Why would you make these choices?
5. What message does the original communicate to the audience? What message would a changed ending convey?
6. Why do you think the story has had such an effect on audiences that followed? What do you think different generations were like who saw this movie? Did different generations view it differently? If so, why?
Secondary School Lesson Plans That Extend Ideas in The Sound of Music
The real Maria von Trapp, according to accounts by her children and stepchildren, was quite opposite the movie version of Maria, played by actress Julie Andrews. She did teach them to sing madrigals, but she was not the driving force behind their musical activities as in the movie. Joan Gearin, archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), has done extensive research into the life of Maria von Trapp and offers insights into the von Trapp family behind The Sound of Music movie.
The real Maria possessed a quick temper and was prone to sudden outbursts of anger from which she just as quickly recovered. Who can picture Julie Andrews slamming doors and pitching temper tantrums?
A teacher might assign a comparison/contrast assignment based upon the two Marias, highlighting details and observations about each personality that help define each of the two characters.
The Sound of Music: Research Projects Beyond the Middle and High School Classroom
Older students would benefit from researching online sources to locate primary biographical material on Maria von Trapp. Authentic immigration records, census data and other documents are available at National Archives (NARA) and at Ancestry.com (freely accessed at most public libraries).
The Journal of Imagination in Language Learning and Teaching
National Archives and Records Administration
Wisconsin University: Ideas Resource