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Hurricane Music

Hurricane Music


Author: Barbara Bottner

Illustrator: Paul Yalowitz
ISBN: 0399225447
Summary: Aunt Margaret’s discovery of an old clarinet in the basement sets off a musical lifestyle for her and her family that includes jamming with hurricanes.


Unit Prepared by Wende


Library List –

Busy Water by Irma Simonton Black

The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane by Joanne Cole

Hurricanes and Tornadoes by Norman S. Barrett

Hurricane by David Wiesner

Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss

The Musical Life of Gustav Mole by M. Twinn

Truman’s Aunt Farm by Jama Kim Rattigan

Lentil by Robert McCloskey

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.


Resources Prepared for this unit (you will also find them in lessons)–

Neighborhoods Worksheet

Occupation Interview Worksheet

Holiday Traditions Worksheet

Sounds Venn Diagram

Days of the Week Worksheet

Who Has Seen the Wind? Notebook Page

Weather Whimsy Printable

Music Survey Graphing Printable

Music Match Cards


Teacher Note: You may want to read and apply this lesson on foreshadowing the first time you read the story with your child, as to not spoil the lesson.


Foreshadowing – Many times an author will use a technique called “foreshadowing” to suggest what is to come later in the work by giving hints and clues. Sometimes the author will  do this by the words chosen for the story, and other times, it will be done with the use of the illustrations. The latter is the case with Hurricane Music. As you read through this story for the first time, have your child look at the picture opposite of the picnic, where Aunt Margaret, Uncle Seymour, and the niece are walking past the music store. Before going any further in the story, ask your child if he thinks there is any reason the music store is pictured, and if so, what he thinks may happen at the music store. As the story unfolds, you will see how the author and illustrator together used foreshadowing to give us clues about the future involvement of the music store. Was your child correct in his guess as to what might happen at the music store?


Social Studies –


Neighborhoods and Communities – Aunt Margaret and Uncle Seymour live in a neighborhood on the outskirts of town. They live in a house, next to other houses, with sidewalks and a street out front. The people that live together in a neighborhood are neighbors. Neighbors can do different things together, such as play at the neighborhood park, have block parties, or help each other in a time of need, like the neighbors who tried to help Aunt Margaret and Uncle Seymour find the lost clarinet. Discuss with your child what his neighborhood looks like, and have him draw a picture of it if desired. Ask if it is similar to the neighborhood we read about in the story.

Neighborhoods are part of bigger communities, called towns or cities, where people live and work together. The people of the town will go to the same stores, eat at the same restaurants, and watch the same parades. There are many people that work together to make the community function smoothly, called community helpers, such as the mayor, doctors, police and firefighters, as well as the storeowners, transportation workers, veterinarians, and other workers (see lesson on occupations).

Towns and cities are part of yet bigger communities called counties. If you watch the weather report on the news, you will usually see a map divided by counties. Help your child to point out the county you live in. Counties are part of the larger state communities.  The states are then part of the country of United States of America, which is just a part of the continent of North America, and the large planet called earth.

Discuss with your child his place in the large community of planet earth. Review these facts with your child, using Neighborhood Worksheet if desired:


I live in a family. My family name is _________________________. (Child’s last name)

I live in a house. It is at ________________________ (street address ie: 123 Green Street)

I live in a town/city. It is called ____________________________.

I live in a county. It is called __________________________.

I live in a state. It is called ___________________________.

I live in a country. It is called ___________________________.

I live on a continent. It is called ___________________________.

I live on a planet. It is called __________________.

Another fun book to read about how a town works together, and also some weather whimsy, is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.


Occupations – There are many different kinds of workers throughout this story. The job somebody does for a living is called his or her occupation. Some of the occupations mentioned or pictured were a train conductor, a hot dog man, police officer, mayor, a clown, and a music store clerk. Aunt Margaret is said to have previously worked at an animal hospital, so she may have been a veterinarian or possibly an aide or receptionist of some sort. And she is referred to as a musician, which can be an occupation if you are getting paid for your performance. Discuss with your child which of the occupations he finds most appealing and why. Older children may want to conduct an interview with someone working in the various occupations, either in person or on the phone. You can use  the Occupation Interview Worksheet to ask questions and lead the interview. You can also play an occupation guessing game. See how quickly your child can guess which occupation from the story each of these is:

I take care of sick animals.

I’m a kind of doctor.

My occupation starts with the letter “v”.

Who am I?



I wear an engineer’s hat.

I operate a train.

My occupation starts with the letter “c”.

Who am I?



I sell something yummy to eat.

I’m at parades and baseball games.

My occupation starts with the letter “h”.

Who am I?

(Hot Dog Man)


I make people laugh.

I wear funny clothes.

My occupation starts with the letter “c”.

Who am I?



I put out fires.

I rescue cats from trees.

My occupation starts with the letter “f”.

Who am I?



I own a store.

I give music lessons.

My occupation starts with the letter “m”.

Who am I?

(Music Store Owner)


I direct traffic.

I protect the rights of people.

My occupation starts with the letter “p”.

Who am I?

(Police Officer)


I play in a band.

I perform for groups of people.

My occupation starts with the letter “m”.

Who am I?



I’m in charge of the city.

People come to me with problems.

My occupation starts with the letter “m”.

Who am I?



I am friendly.

I bring you food in a restaurant.

My occupation starts with the letter “w”.

Who am I?

(Waiter or waitress)



Relationships (Aunts and Uncles) - An aunt is the sister of one’s father or mother, or the wife of an uncle. An uncle is the brother of one’s father or mother, or the husband of an aunt. Hurricane Music is about the relationship between a niece and her aunt and uncle.

            As you read through this story, take notice of how opposite Aunt Margaret and Uncle Seymour are. Aunt Margaret is adventurous, happy, and outgoing. Her husband even calls her a “wild woman”. Uncle Seymour, on the other hand, is quiet and reserved. The niece seems to have a bit of both of their personality traits.

            Ask your child if he has any aunts or uncles, and if so, to think about their personality traits. Does he have a wild, eccentric aunt that does crazy things like playing an instrument outside during a storm? Or maybe he has an uncle who doesn’t seem happy or who has trouble having fun. Ask your child to reflect on whether he is like his aunts or uncles in any way.

            Did your child notice what happened to the personalities of Aunt Margaret and Uncle Seymour by the end of the story? If not, point out that Aunt Margaret had become a bit more reserved in her musical performances, while Uncle Seymour lightened up a bit, even smiling while he was playing a maraca. They accepted each other’s personality differences, and even balanced each other out a bit.

            This week it may be fun for your child to go out for ice cream, or have a tea party with an aunt or uncle. If that isn’t possible, maybe he could call or write one, just to say hello. A fantastic go-along book to read about a lot of fun, adventurous aunts is Truman’s Aunt Farm by Jama Kim Rattigan. (Five in a Row vol. 3)


Spring Holiday – We are told that this story takes place during the springtime, and that the parade was during a holiday that fell on a Monday. Have your child look through the spring months (mid March to mid June) and see if he can find any holidays that fall on a Monday. While the story doesn’t tell us specifically, there is a very good chance that Aunt Margaret and Uncle Seymour were celebrating Memorial Day.

            Memorial Day is a legal holiday that is observed on the last Monday in May by the people of the United States and its territories. It is celebrated to honor deceased war veterans, and soldiers, sailors, and airmen killed in wartime. Memorial Day originated in 1868 to commemorate the Union soldiers and sailors who fell in the civil war, and is traditionally marked by parades, picnics, and decoration of graves. How does your family celebrate Memorial Day? Do you go to a parade like the aunt, uncle, and niece in our story? Or maybe the opening of the swimming pool, or a family picnic marks Memorial Day. Children really enjoy traditions such as these, and look forward to them each year. Discuss with your child the holiday traditions your family has, or maybe ones that you will plan for the future. Use Holiday Traditions Worksheet

with older children if desired.


Science –


Water Cycle – The water on earth travels in an endless cycle. There are three steps to the water cycle, called evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Evaporation occurs when heat from the sun changes the water, such as the water in the stream where Aunt Margaret, Uncle Seymour, and the niece picnicked, into vapor. The vapor rises up in the sky, condensing to make clouds. When the clouds get heavy, precipitation falls from them in the form of rain or snow. And then the cycle goes around again. In Hurricane Music, you can discuss with your child the various steps to the water cycle. A good book to read about the water cycle is Busy Water by Irma Simonton Black. 

Water Cycle Coloring Sheet 1
Water Cycle Coloring Sheet 2
Water Cycle Coloring Sheet 3
Water Cycle Coloring Sheet 4
Water Cycle Coloring Sheet 5  


Hurricanes – Whenever Aunt Margaret played her clarinet, the weather responded to the sound. While playing music can’t really cause a hurricane to happen, does your child know what does?

            Hurricanes are powerful, whirling storms. They form over the warm oceans close to the equator and can travel hundreds of miles. As the sun heats up the seas, warm water vapor rises into the air forming large thunderclouds. Wind causes the masses of clouds to whirl strongly. The hurricanes move across the ocean creating huge waves that can crash on the shore. Often times, the hurricane never makes it to land. When they do come to land, they bring high, destructive winds and heavy rains.


To learn more about hurricanes, read these informative books:

The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane by Joanne Cole

Hurricanes and Tornadoes by Norman S. Barrett


Or these picture books about children experiencing a hurricane:

Hurricane by David Wiesner

Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey


Wind – The more Aunt Margaret played her clarinet, the more the wind whipped through the village. What causes the wind? Air is made of tiny particles called molecules. As these molecules heat up, they expand, move faster, and spread out. When the molecules get cool, they contract, move slower, and stay together. So as the sun warms the air, the air rises. The cold air rushes in to take the place of the warm air. We feel this movement of air as wind. For further research, study the Beaufort Wind Scale to see what constitutes a fair breeze, moderate gale, or storm winds.


Mint – Uncle Seymour made everyone some delicious mint tea. Mint is an aromatic herb that is used for flavoring and a garnish, as well as for medicinal purposes. Your child is probably familiar with mint-flavored candy or toothpaste, but have you ever made peppermint tea? Every spring, just as soon as the mint leaves appear, we are steeping some wonderful mint tea. If you don’t have mint in your garden, most grocery stores carry sprigs of it in their produce departments. Have your child draw a picture or make a rubbing of a mint leaf for his nature notebook. To make mint tea, bring water to a boil, remove from heat, and add a handful of tender, clean mint leaves to the water. Let it steep for approximately five minutes, and pour into mugs, being sure to strain the leaves out. Sweeten with a bit of honey or sugar, if desired, and enjoy with some cookies while jazz is playing in the background.


Sounds – Aunt Margaret decided she was going to study the sounds of life. She imitated the sounds of animals, trains, and streams. Have your child be very quiet and soak in the sounds of life. What does he hear? Maybe cars or birds can be heard in the background. , Or rustling leaves or running water can be heard off in the distance. Have your child try to imitate the sounds of life, either with an instrument or his own voice. Compare the sounds of life someone living in a city might hear, as opposed to someone who lives in the country. Use Sounds Venn Diagram

to itemize findings.  


Language Arts –


Vocabulary –


Ferocious – extremely fierce. “Hurricane Harold swept into town and he was ferocious”


Pelting – beating or descending with violence. “She rushed outdoors in the pelting rain.”


Subside – to become calm and quiet. “…the tumultuous storm began to subside.”


Tempest – an extensive and violent wind, usually accompanied by rain, snow, or hail.  “The tempest shattered into a blinding downpour.”


Tranquil – calm, quiet, motionless. “But this time the melody was tranquil.”


Tumultuous – a violent commotion. “…The tumultuous storm began to subside.”


Vivid Verbs – Authors make many choices when writing their final draft of a work. The writing should be colorful. Even if the ideas are good, if they do not sound quite right on paper, the reader may lose interest. To add life to her writing, Barbara Bottner, the author of Hurricane Music, often uses active, vivid verbs. A vivid verb is an action word that also adds color. For instance, instead of saying the “the wind blew” the author chose the words “the wind whipped” to give the reader a more vivid, exciting story. Have your older child make a list of vivid verbs he finds throughout the story, and have him use some of these words to write a couple of sentences of his own. Some examples are:

Glistening; dazzled; jiggled; jamming; whipped; clattering; rattling; erupted; shattered; wailing; beating; pursed; trilled; vibrated; echoed; sizzled, howl; roar; shook; warbled; crashed; tumbled; dribbled; hollered; 


Alliteration – Alliteration is a poetic term to describe the repetition of initial consonant sounds in neighboring words. Aunt Margaret enjoyed using alliteration to communicate strong emotion. Some examples include “Merciful melodies!” and “Whistling Winnebago!” Have your child look for other examples as you read the story. He may pick out “Dancing Dinglediddy!” or “Sanctifying Satchmo!”


Assonance – The author of Hurricane Music also uses another poetic device called assonance. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds without the repetition of consonants. The author used assonance when Aunt Margaret was so sad she couldn’t even say “Peachy keen”, when the long e sound was used in both neighboring words. Can your child think of any other popular sayings that use assonance? Some he may be familiar with are “jeepers creepers!” or maybe “great snakes!” Have him make up his own sayings using assonance.


Alphabetically Order – So that meteorologists can keep track of hurricanes each year, they give them names. The first hurricane of the new year is given a name that begins with the letter “A”, the second begins with the letter “B”, etc. In Hurricane Music we hear of Hurricane Gladys and Hurricane Harold. On twenty-six strips of paper, have your child think of and write a name that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Mix up the strips of paper and then have your child put them back in alphabetical order. 


Point of View – The point of view is the vantage point from which the story is told. In first-person point of view, the story is told by one of the characters. In third-person point of view, someone outside the story tells the story. Ask your child from what point of view Hurricane Music is told. Have him read the very first sentence of the story, “One day my aunt Margaret…” Who does the “my” refer to? Hurricane Music is told in first-person point of view from the perspective of the niece. As you read other stories to your child, he will now be able to recognize this literary detail.


Days of the Week – Hurricane Music takes us through at least a week in the lives of Aunt Margaret, Uncle Seymour, and their niece. The story starts at “One day” when she found the clarinet, and then going through Saturday when they went to the railroad station, a picnic on Sunday, a parade on Monday, painting signs on Friday, and buying the harmonica and finding the clarinet on Saturday, and so forth. Use this as an opportunity to reinforce the days of the week and their spellings with your younger children. Review how many days in a week. Use Days of the Week Worksheet if desired.


Copywork/Dictation/Memorization - Your child may enjoy reading or listening to this poem, or using it for copywork or dictation exercises using Who Has Seen the Wind? Notebook Page


Who Has Seen the Wind? by Christina Rossetti


Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing thro'.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.


Applied Math –


Counting – The author of the story has whimsically included Aunt Margaret’s cat on almost every page spread throughout the story, sometimes even hiding in the oddest places. Have your younger children locate and count all of the pictures of Aunt Margaret’s cat.


Hurricane Code – After doing the language arts lesson telling how hurricanes are named, have your child do

Weather Whimsy Printable  (number code riddle). Answer – YOU BLOW ME AWAY!


Graphing – Aunt Margaret played a type of music called jazz. Many people, such as the parade goers in the story, enjoy jazz, while others such as Uncle Seymour do not. Everyone has their own personal preferences as to what kind of music they enjoy. Have your child do a graphing activity, surveying numerous people to see what their favorite kind of music is. You can list music types such as Jazz, Rock and Roll, Blues, Gospel, Country Western, Hip Hop, Classical, Bluegrass, Oldies, and     Other. Have your child fill out a graph--Music Survey Graphing Printable

 to show what the most popular style of music is of the people surveyed. What was the least popular?


Money/Profit – The girl in the story has set up a lemonade stand. At some point, she had decided that she should sell the lemonade for five cents a cup instead of ten cents. Discuss with your child the various reasons she may have put the lemonade up for sale at half price. Maybe she wasn’t selling enough, and needed to get rid of it. Maybe she was ready to close up shop. Maybe your child would like to set up a lemonade stand himself. Have him figure out what it would cost to make each cup of lemonade, being sure to consider in the cost of fresh lemons and sugar or powdered mix, the price of the cups, the possible costs of advertising. Have him decide what he would like his profit margin to be. Would he like to double his money, or would he be satisfied to come out even for all his labor. Have him think about issues such as the best time and place to sell. Help him have fun designing his own lemonade stand.


Basic Math Skills - If you prefer not to do the lemonade stand activity; have your child figure out various word problems regarding the sale of lemonade.


If the girl sold 20 cups of lemonade at 5 cents a cup, how much did she get for the lemonade? ($1.00) How much would she have received if she had stuck to the 10 cent price? ($2.00)


How many cups of lemonade would she have to sell at 5 cents each to receive $5.00? (100 cups)


If each cup of lemonade costs 3 cents to make, how much profit does the girl make selling each cup for 5 cents? (2 cents profit) How much profit if she sold them for 10 cents each? (7 cents profit)


Have your child figure out his own word problems, either orally or written.



Music – Music is a combination of sounds that are pleasing to the ear, usually with attention to rhythm, pitch, and tone. There are many musical terms to introduce to your child through reading Hurricane Music.


Reed – a thin elastic plate that comes from certain tall grass that grows in wet places. They are used in the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments to produce a musical tone.


Scale – Aunt Margaret practiced her scales. A scale is an arrangement of tones in ascending or descending order.

Tempo – Tempo is the speed at which a piece of music is performed. Aunt Margaret learned about tempo by listening to the sounds a train made as it picked up speed. If possible, play the slower parts of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 3 to demonstrate a slow tempo, and the faster part of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to demonstrate fast tempo.

Notes – Aunt Margaret’s notes climbed higher and higher as she was playing her clarinet during the parade. Notes are tones or sounds of a definite pitch. In written music, notes are represented as symbols. Have your child search through the book to see if he can locate the notes drawn throughout.


Rhythm – Rhythm is the arrangement of the accents or durations of musical sound. It is demonstrated in the stress, beat, sound, accent, or motion of a song. Jumping rope requires rhythm. See Phys Ed lesson.


Pitch – The frequency of a tone, as in high or low.


Benny Goodman – (1909-1986) On Aunt Margaret’s coffee table sat a book titled Benny Goodman, The Man. Benny Goodman was an American jazz musician and orchestra leader born in 1909. He began to play the clarinet at the age of ten, and by the time he was fourteen years old he was performing with local dance orchestras. By 1936, he had organized his own orchestra, which became the most popular jazz group in the United States. Mr. Goodman was well known for his skill, inventiveness, and versatility playing the clarinet. He performed on the radio, television, and in motion pictures. It is no wonder Aunt Margaret wanted to read about him, as it is good to learn from the best. Try to obtain some recordings of Benny Goodman to listen to throughout the week. You can download free files to listen to here.


Musical Instruments – Aunt Margaret just loved playing her clarinet, and then her harmonica. As you look through the pictures of the music store, can your child identify any of the different instruments? You’ll find maracas, guitars, a tambourine, keyboard, piano, bongos, horn, and others. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the four groups of musical instruments.


Woodwinds are musical instruments in which the players’ breath causes an air column to vibrate as it passes through a reed. These instruments are sometimes also called Reed instruments. This group of instruments includes Aunt Margaret’s clarinet and harmonica, as well as the oboe, bassoon, saxophone, and flute. Your child can duplicate the sound made by a woodwind by putting a large flat blade of grass between his two thumbs, and blowing through them making a vibrating sound. Further discuss the two instruments that Aunt Margaret played.


Clarinet – A clarinet is a woodwind instrument having a single reed mouthpiece, finger holes, and keys. Musicians usually play clarinets as part of a jazz band or orchestra.


Harmonica – A harmonica is an instrument consisting of metal reeds fixed in slots in a small, oblong frame. It is played by blowing and inhaling through the slots. Sometimes a harmonica is also called a mouth organ. A wonderful story about a young boy learning to play a harmonica (and there are even parade and lemon tie-ins too!), is Lentil by Robert McCloskey (Five in a Row vol. 1)


Brass instruments are another group. With these instruments, the sound comes from a column of air that vibrates as the result of a buzzing movement of the players’ lips. This group includes instruments such as the trumpet, tuba, horn, and trombone. Let your child have fun blowing raspberries to demonstrate the buzzing sound used in brass instruments.


The third instrument group is the Strings. These instruments produce their tones by means of one or more vibrating strings. Instruments in this group include the guitar, cello, violin, piano, and banjo. To duplicate the sounds made by a string instrument, strum a few rubber bands that have been wrapped around a block of wood.


The last group of musical instruments is the Percussion group.  With these instruments, striking or hitting produces the sound. Drums, bongos, cymbals, and tambourine are all part of the percussion group. Have your child make shakers by putting dried beans in an empty bottle, or have him make a drum out of an oatmeal container to duplicate the sounds created by a percussion instrument.


Print and use the Music Match cards to play matching games and review the various instruments included in each of the four instrument groups. Can your child put each of the instruments in the correct group? A game of “Guess What Instrument” would be fun too. Place all the cards face down, and have you or your child draw one, hiding it from the other players. The opposing player gets to ask the cardholder five “yes or no” questions to try to figure out what instrument is on the card. Question examples are: Is it one of the instruments that Aunt Margaret played? Do you blow into it? Does it have strings? Does it have a reed? Do you shake it? Do you hit it with mallets? Is it in the woodwind [brass, string, percussion] group? Does the name of the instrument start with the letter ___?


 Read these other books about musical instruments:

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss

The Musical Life of Gustav Mole by M. Twinn


Art –


Shapes – The illustrations in Hurricane Music are filled with great images of Space Figures. Space Figures are three-dimensional shapes that are made up of polygons or curved figures. Space Figures include the cube, cylinder, cone, pyramid, prism, and sphere. Look through the illustrations at the cube shape of the boxes in the basement, the suitcases, the lemonade stand, and the counter at the music store. Find the cylinder shape in the hatboxes, the engine of the train, trashcans, paint cans, cups, and the drums. The cone shape is elongated to form the clarinet, and of course can be seen in the ice cream cone. Can your child find the spheres? Look for the beach ball and globe in the basement. Have your child copy or trace the pictures of the various shape figures.


Motion in Illustrations – The illustrator of Hurricane Music, Paul Yalowitz, has a wonderful way of bringing the words of the story to life. Have your child take the time to really examine the motion in the pictures, the way the fish are jumping out of the water during the picnic, and the way the hats, kites, and umbrellas are flying through the air and the trees bend over during the storm. The picture of the animals dancing is especially full of life and movement. Have your child draw a picture showing lots of movement, using Hurricane Music as an example.


Reflective Images – Have some fun with this easy art lesson. As you page through the story, take notice of the windows at the Ice Cream-O-Rama and at the Music Store. From inside looking out the letters all appear backwards. Have your child write backwards on a window with window markers, and then go to the other side of the window to see how he did. Another way to do this is to write a message backwards, and then look at the reflection in a mirror. You may also want to mention that ambulances have the words written on their front ends backwards so that when someone is looking in their rearview mirror, they can read who is behind them. 


Phys Ed –


Jumping Rope – Out on the streets,  Aunt Margaret heard jump ropes beating out a rhythm. Does your child know how to jump rope? Does he know how to double-dutch? Get the cardiovascular system going this week by jumping rope. Not only will your child have fun, but he will also demonstrate rhythm. For an added challenge, have your child chant this verse and count his jumps:

A quarter note has one beat,
A half note has two,
A whole note has 4 beats,
How many beats can you?


Field Trip Ideas –


Visit a music store.

Go on a picnic.


Cooking/Snack Ideas –


Make some chicken salad with raisins or hot dogs.



Hurricane Music Maze 

Free Orchestra lapbook