Learn At Home!
Learn about the instruments, composers, pieces, and how to conduct - from our homes to yours!

Activity -

Carnival of the Animals

Here is a fun Carnival of the Animals activity to do with your kids!

Fun at Home! The piece, Carnival of the Animals was written by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns in 1887. Saint-Saëns uses a variety of instruments and techniques in this exciting piece to portray these animals, which have become a well-loved way to introduce instruments and classical music to kids. For this activity, use the links below to listen to this piece. After each movement, take a minute to pause the video and answer the questions for each animal. What instruments did you hear? What can you picture the animals doing? There are no wrong answers when it comes to the imagination, so have fun with it!

Introduction and Royal March of the Lion (0:00-2:25)

  • How can you tell when the Lion comes in? What does the Lion sound like?
  • Can you stomp your feet to the beat?

Hens and Roosters (2:25-3:15)

  • What instruments do you hear?
  • What can you imagine the chickens doing?

Wild Donkeys (3:15-3:53)

  • What you hear in this movement are scales going up and down. What do you think the donkeys are doing based on this sound?

Tortoises (3:53-6:02)

  • Does this music sound familiar to you (Hint: Can-Can). What is different about Tortoises compared to the Can-Can?
  • What are the tortoises doing in this movement?

The Elephant (6:02-7:38)

  • How do the instruments represent a big elephant?

Kangaroos (7:38-8:37)

  • Can you hear the kangaroos hopping in this movement? Can you hop around every time the piano plays their notes and stop when the piano stops? Let’s see!

Aquarium (8:37-11:07)

  • What animals can you picture in the aquarium and why?

Personages with Long Ears (11:07-12:01)

  • What animals do you think this movement is portraying? (Hint: They have already appeared in this piece and “bray”)

The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods (12:01-14:10)

  • What instrument in this movement represents the Cuckoo?
  • a) Clarinet
  • b) Piano
  • c) Trumpet

Aviary (14:10-15:30)

  • What animal does the music make you think of?
  • What instrument represents the bird and what is it doing?

Pianists (15:30-16:58)

  • This movement is mimicking something that musicians are supposed to practice. Do you know what it is? (Hint: the movement of the Wild Donkeys features this)

Fossils (16:58-18:18)

  • In this movement, we hear a repeated phrase by the xylophone. What does this instrument sound like to you?
  • What can you picture the fossils doing?

The Swan (18:18-21:17)

  • When you listen to this movement, what are you imagining in your head and what about the music makes you imagine that?

Finale (21:17-23:18)

  • The Carnival is in town! What animals do you hear taking a bow?

Integration alert! Draw a picture of your favorite animal from the piece and share it with us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bellinghamsymphony/.

Need a copy of the book and music? Here is our favorite version by Jack Prelutsky with illustrations by Mary GrandPré. You can order it from Village Books to support a local business and have it shipped straight to your home.

Be sure to check our website each week for more activities coming your way!

You Can Help Keep the Music Going!

If you enjoy our weekly activities, please consider a donation to the BSO. The BSO does over 90 in-school performances each year, reaching thousands of students throughout Whatcom County.


More Learn At Home! Activities:

Fruit & Veggie Instruments

Carrot Kazoo

Make a kazoo from a carrot!

Cauliflower Trumpet!

Make a conch or trumpet from a cauliflower!

Gourd Ocarina

Make an ocarina out of a gourd!

Green Pepper Shakers

Make a Rhythm Instrument from a Green Pepper!

Make a Watermelon Drum!

Learn how to make a drum out of a watermelon!

Radish Scraper

Make a scraper instrument from a Daikon radish!

Squash Udu!

Make an Udu from a butternut squash!

Conducting & Instruments

Conduct with Yaniv

Learn how to conduct with Maestro Yaniv! (Featuring Jonah)

The Bass

Learn about the Bass with Mark Tomko, Principal Bass of the BSO!

The Cello

Learn about the cello with Olivia Kingsley, BSO Program Intern!

The English Horn

Learn about the English horn with Ken Bronstein, English horn of the BSO!

The Flute

Learn about the flute with Debbie Arthur, Principal Flute of the BSO!

The Horn

Learn about the horn with Kristi Kilgore, member of the BSO horn section!

Conducting & Instruments

Breanna Sinclaire

This week’s lesson features Breanna Sinclaire, the first transgender person to sing the National Anthem at a professional sporting event!

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Here is a fun Carnival of the Animals activity to do with your kids!

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Inspiring Composers!

Hear words of inspiration from composers Alexandra Gardner and Frances Pollock.

Musical Rivers!

Here is a fun activity to do with your kids involving a piece about a river - The Moldau!

Opera for Kids with Ashley!

Learn about kid friendly operas with soprano Ashley Becker!

Opera with RBG

Today we remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was a champion of people and opera!

Sharon Isbin & Classical Guitar

This week’s lesson features Sharon Isbin, the guitarist who created the guitar program at the Juilliard School!

She Sang for a Nation

Here is a lesson about Marian Anderson and her experience as a black woman denied a hall to perform.


Here is a fun activity to do with your kids involving Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony!

Tona Brown

This week’s lesson features Tona Brown, the first black transgender woman to perform at Carnegie Hall and to perform for a United States President.

William Grant Still

Here is an activity featuring composer William Grant Still and his music.

Whatcom Arts Project

The BSO is a proud participant and a founding member of the new Whatcom Arts Project, a group of over 30 community arts nonprofits. The goal of the Whatcom Arts Project is to reach our community during this time of need to provide hope, entertainment, learning opportunities, and a sense of togetherness. Each week, the BSO posts learning activities and videos on our website and to social media as part of the Whatcom Arts Project. To learn more about the Whatcom Arts Project and home friendly activities in our area, please visit: www.facebook.com/WhatcomArtsProject/ or https://www.bellingham.org/whatcom-arts-project/.