4th Grade Arts Experience Teacher Guide

Welcome to AGREE’s “Stars Shine Brightly” Arts Experiences! Designed to help K-5 Educators to address Arizona standards in Arts, World Native Language Studies, ELA and Social Studies. Created by Arizonans for Arizonans, this resource is for the classroom and is designed to be facilitated in order. Each grade level has 5 experiences involving Storytelling, Music, Theater, Dance, and Visual Art, with topics that broaden students’ understanding of The Golden Rule.

Arts Experience #1


AZ PO Strands

4.SP4.3; IR.NL.1, 4.W.1

AGREE Strand



AGREE Objective: Students will learn about how to treat their friends when they are having a problem.

World/Native Language Objective: Recognize a few letters or characters and learned words and phrases.

Social Studies Objective: Use evidence from multiple sources to develop and communicate claims about the causes and effects of events.

ELA Objective: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information: a. Create an organizational structure, b. Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.


AGREE Resources:

AGREE Resources: “The Friendship of Tortoise and Eagle” Resource, “Anansi and Turtle” Resource, “Samahani” Audio Resource (on this page), “African Fables Venn Diagram” Visual Resource

Drum (optional)

Cultural Focus


Foreign Language Audio Resource

Pronunciation: samahani (Swahili for “I’m Sorry”)

Golden Rule Activity Part 1:

  1. Say, “As a class, we will be exploring two different stories, each with a similar message about friendship. Each story originated from different regions within the continent of Africa.” 
  2. Ask the yes or no questions, “Has your friend ever done anything that made you feel sad? Have you ever felt sorry for something you said or did to a friend?” 
    • Engage your students in discussing positive and negative ways to respond when problems arise with friends.
  3. Teach your students the word ‘samahani’ which means ‘I’m sorry’ in Swahili (use “samahani” Audio Resource (on this page) for correct pronunciation). While working through difficult situations with friends, ‘samahani’ (I’m sorry), might be help soften tough blows.
    • Optional: Ask your students to share examples of when it is important to say “I’m sorry.” Encourage your students, to use the word “samahani” as needed when interacting with their friends and classmates. 

Telling the Story Part 1:

  1. Begin by sharing “The Friendship of Tortoise and Eagle” from Central Africa. (Use “The Friendship of Tortoise and Eagle” Resource.)
  2. There are three animal types in the story: Tortoise, Eagle, and Frog. Help your students create a drum beat to represent each character (e.g. slow/steady for turtle and fast/bouncy for frog).
  3. While you read the story to your class, invite your students to quietly drum each rhythm as each character is referenced during the story. 

Telling the Story Part 2:

  1. When sharing the 2nd story, from West Africa, use “Anansi the Spider and the Turtle” Resource.
  2. Select two students willing to act out the characters in the story and invite them to stand in front of the class. One of them will pretend to be Anansi the spider and the other Turtle. 
  3. Explain that they will be acting out the story for the class as it is read. Encourage them to respond to “acting cues” or words that trigger an action to be carried out at a certain time. Read or listen to the story.

Golden Rule Activity Part 2:

  1. Referencing both stories, say that, “Both of our stories happened in different regions in Africa, with different kinds of characters, but with similar outcomes.” 
  2. Provide students with a paper and have them answer each of the following questions in complete sentences. 
  3. Have them use African Fables Venn Diagram Print Resource to map out their ideas.

Golden Questions: 

  • What things happened in these stories that were similar? 
  • What things happened in one story that were slightly different from the other? 
  • What piece of advice would you give to these characters?
  • Have you had experiences similar to these characters?

Golden Discussion: How can the Golden Rule help us respond when things don’t turn out the way we want them to? How can we peacefully handle other people’s negative actions?

Golden Rule Challenge: I will treat my friends with respect and if they do not treat me well, I can ask them to stop or respectfully walk away.

Arts Experience #2


AZ PO Strand

MU.CR.1.4a, IR.NL.1

Agree Strand



Music Objective: (MU.CR.1.4a) Improvise rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic ideas (e.g. beat, meter, rhythm, harmony, and tonality). 

World/Native Language Objective: (IR.NL.1) Recognize a few letters or characters and learned words and phrases. 

AGREE Objective: (SSB.G-4.2) Students will share their opinions with others and be willing to listen to others in return.


AGREE Resources:

“That’s My Belief” Music Resources, “That’s My Belief” Lyrics Resource, “Hiyo ni imani yangu” Audio Resource (on this page), Musical Instruments Visual Resource

Additional Material: Drum

Cultural Focus

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Foreign Language Audio Resource: That’s My Belief

Pronunciation: Hiyo ni imani yangu (Swahili)

Prospecting for Gold: How have you treated your friends when they haven’t treated you well?

Singing the Song:

  1. This is as a call and response rhythm activity. “In Africa, the drum is central to many customs and daily norms. The drum can be compared to the heartbeat of a group.”
  2. “The song we will be learning is called ‘hiyo ni imani yangu’ which means ‘That’s My Belief’ in Swahili” (“Hiyo ni imani yangu” Audio Resource on this page for pronunciation). Have students practice saying ‘hiyo ni imani yangu’ with you. 
  3. Call students by playing a rhythm on a drum or hard surface and have the students respond by creating the same rhythm on their desk or lap. Create 5-6 different call patterns, simple or complex, and have students respond. 
  4. Then lead students to a steady, unified rhythm by drumming a slow and simple beat until they join you. Once students are playing a unified, steady rhythm, have them continue quietly as you speak the lyrics to the song, use “That’s My Belief” Lyrics Resource.
  5. “That’s My Belief” Lyrics Resource. After you speak each line, have the students repeating the lyrics back to you.
    1. Optional: Teach students about the form of songs (verses, chorus, bridge). In the song “That’s my Belief,” its form is verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, extended chorus with a spoken word descant and vocal improvisation.
      1. descant: A vocal part above the main melody.
      2. improvisation: A free form, spontaneous musical creation.
  6. Now that they have heard the lyrics in the oral tradition, project or display the lyrics and play “That’s my Belief” from the beginning and invite them to sing along “That’s My Belief” Music Resources
  7. After listening to first half the song, stop the song and have your students identify the instruments they heard, displaying the Musical Instruments Visual Resource.
  8. Play the rest of the song.
  9. As the song ends, begin to play a steady rhythm on your drum or hard surface, motioning to your class to join in, begin getting quieter and quieter. Visually cue your class to do the same (e.g. a gesture to guide them might be lowering your hand slowly).
  10. Once everyone is silent, say “breathe in”, modeling a deep inhale for your class, and then say “breathe out.” 
  11. Say “The drum represents the heartbeat that unites all humankind. Sometimes when we are too loud it is impossible to hear it and be united.”

Golden Question: What happens when we are too loud and don’t hear those around us?

Golden Rule Challenge: I can speak but I must also be willing to listen.

Classroom Idea: You might consider playing the song during the school day, for a brain break, so they can gradually learn the entire song through repetition. 

Arts Experience #3


AZ PO Strand

TH.CR.1.4c, 4.RF.4

Agree Strand




Cultural Focus

Theater Objective: (TH.CR.1.4c) Imagine how a character moves and speaks to support the story and given circumstances in a theatrical work. 

Reading Objective: (4.RF.4) Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

AGREE Objective: (SSB.G-4.3) Students will discuss using body and facial expressions to help communicate how they feel to others.

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Prospecting for Gold: Why do we share our thoughts and listen to others’ thoughts in return?

Golden Rule Activity: 

  1. “Our bodies communicate feelings and opinions, through actions like facial expressions, sounds and body movements. We pay attention to other people’s actions to understand how they might be feeling.”
  2. Invite two students to stand in front of the classroom. Invite one student to stand in place while the other walks closer, slowly. The intention is for students to observe how the student standing in place reacts as the other when they get “too close.”
  3. Discuss, “What did you observe about their body and facial expressions? What did their actions tell you about how they wanted to be treated?”
    • Optional: Discuss “boundaries” with your students, focusing on how to set boundaries with other people and how to recognize other people’s boundaries.

Reading the Script:

  1. “This experience is all about movement and recognizing actions that make characters, including animals, come to life.” 
  2. Play a game of charades, selecting 2-3 students to act like the animals in the story (Mr. Tortoise, Frog, Mrs. Tortoise, Eagle) while the rest of the class guesses which animal they are acting like. 
  3. Ask your class to share what the acting students did with their bodies to help show which animal they were (crawled, hopped, wiggled, facial expressions, etc.).
  4. “In acting, many things that tell the story are communicated through our actions.” The class will be reading “Eagle’s Big Mistake” Script Resource. 
    • Optional: This activity can be done in small groups or as a class.
  5. Choose a reader for each character (Mr. Tortoise, Frog, Mrs. Tortoise, and Eagle) and encourage them to read slowly, accurately and with expression. Say, “The way you read will influence the way your classmates move or act.” 
  6. Choose an actor for each character (Mr. Tortoise, Frog, Mrs. Tortoise, and Eagle) to communicate the story through facial expressions, whole body movement, sounds, and interactions with other characters.

Golden Rule Challenge: I will pay attention to other people’s actions and try to understand how they might feel.

Golden Questions: How would you like your classmates to respond to you when you feel sad, angry, or happy?

Arts Experience #4


AZ PO Strand

DA.CR.1.4c; CUL.N.1

Agree Strand



Dance Objective: (DA.CR.1.4c) Experiment with a variety of self-identified stimuli and build content for choreography using several stimuli (e.g., music/sound, text, objects, images, observed dance, experiences, literary forms, natural phenomena).

World/Native Language Objective: (CUL.N.1) Participate in age-appropriate and culturally authentic activities such as celebrations, songs, games, and dances; recognize products of culture. 

AGREE Objective: (SSB.G-4.4) Students will practice working together with different members of a group.


AGREE Resources:

Mchezo wa Furaha” Audio Resource (on this page), “That’s My Belief” Music Resource, Mchezo wa Furaha” Dance Video Resource, “That’s My Belief” Lyrics Resource

Cultural Focus

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Foreign Language Audio Resource

Mchezo wa Furaha

Prospecting for Gold: How can you use your body to help others feel safe around you?

Doing the Dance:

  1. “The dances of Africa include earthy movements that use hands and legs to imitate things in nature. Dancing is a way to bring people together and experience happiness through movement. You are going to create your own dance and we will call it Mchezo wa Furaha” meaning a dance of happiness in Swahili (“Mchezo wa Furaha” Audio Resource on this page). 
    • You may consider showing short video clips of traditional dancing from different regions in Africa, encouraging students to use full body movement.
  2. In the song, “That’s my Belief,” there are a variety of descriptive words. Read the lines from both the first and second chorus for your students (“That’s My Belief” Music Resource), and have them create a movement for each line. For example: “We’ve got sun shining on our faces…” ask students to create a movement that shows “sun” as it shines “on our faces”.
    • One way to do this is to watch all your students creating movements simultaneously, pick one student’s movement and then model it for the group, acknowledging the student who created it. Try to get a wide-variety of styles and input from your students.
  3. In order to create movement for the entire song, split the class into 2-4 groups. Assign each group a line from the dance and have them create a movement or series of movements as a group. (“That’s My Belief” Lyrics Resource).
  4. Play the song and practice the movements with the music. You may enjoy watching Mchezo wa Furaha” Dance Video Resource as a class. 

Golden Question: How is dancing together similar to how we interact in our classroom and at home?

Golden Rule Challenge: I will find ways to enjoy interacting with all members of a group.

Arts Experience #5

Visual Art

AZ PO Strand

VA.CN.10.4, 4.RL.7

Agree Strand



Visual Art Objective: (VA.CN.10.4) Create a work of art that reflects community or cultural traditions.

ELA Objective: (4.RL.7) Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

AGREE Objective: (SSB.G-4.5) Students will identify character traits that are helpful in the classroom.


AGREE Resources:

“Turtle Template” Visual Resource, West African Symbols” Visual Resource, “Africa Symbols Teacher Guide” Visual Resource

Additional Materials: Crayons, scissors, brown paper bags

Cultural Focus

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Prospecting for Gold: What can you enjoy when interacting with students that have different interests or hobbies than you?

Creating the Art:

  1. “Each character in a story is important and has a role to play. In our two stories, how did each character have an important role to play?” (Turtle, Eagle, Tortoise, and Anansi the Spider).
  2. “Just like in a story, each person in our classroom has a part to play. Sometimes we act in different ways at different times, just like the characters in our stories acted in different ways. Sometimes our actions can be helpful and sometimes they can be hurtful.”
  3. Pass out the Turtle template (“Turtle Template” Visual Resource) and West African symbols (“West African Symbols” Worksheet Resource). Look at the symbols with your students and ask what they think each of the West African symbols mean?
  4. “We will be using symbols from West Africa to describe the actions of the characters in our two stories.” Have students select a character from one of the stories and write it on their “West African Symbols” worksheet. Invite them to circle the positive and negative symbols that describe the character they chose. 
  5. Have students write 1-2 sentences about why they chose those symbols to represent their character on the “West African Symbols” worksheet.
    • Optional: Discuss what a symbol is and guide your students in creating a symbol to describe their own personality or character traits. 
  6. Have students cut out the turtle shape from the “Turtle Template” and trace it onto their brown bag, with the shell divided diagonally. 
  7. Using earth tone markers (red, black, yellow and white) have students copy the symbols they chose onto their turtle.  One side of the turtle’s shell for positive symbols and the other side for negative symbols. “Every person has positive and negative traits, everyday is like a dance of deciding how we will act out those traits.”
  8. When finished, lightly wet the paper and crumble it to give it a rustic, weathered look. 

Golden Question: What character traits can I use to be helpful in the classroom?

Golden Rule Challenge: I have an important part to play and will try to be helpful in my actions.

Classroom Idea: Display the turtles in your classroom and make a class turtle to track different character traits (positive/negative) that you notice in your classroom.

Arts Experience Teacher Guides