Learning Guides - Grades 3-5

Explore dance, music and theatre genres through educational lessons and interactive activities! Please select the genre you are interested in or browse through them all.
Each season, new Learning Guides will be added. Be sure to come back to continue expanding your knowledge of the arts!  





Westside Ballet: Nutcracker Suite

Westside Ballet in Los Angeles has thrilled audiences with their lavish productions of The Nutcracker for over 45 years. This classic ballet based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, presents a fairytale of a girl and Nutcracker Prince who journey to the Land of Sweets on Christmas Eve.

Enjoy listening to the classical score of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as you encounter the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Princess and Arabian Nights and reflect on the dance characters and story.

Genre: Ballet 
Ages: 5 and up
Key Skills: history of ballet, narrative story-telling, pantomime, active listening
Standards Provided: Grade 5

Video Workshop - 5 Basic Positions of Ballet Technique



Versa-Style Dance Company: Box of Hope Versa-Style Dance Company: Box of Hope 

Versa-Style Dance Company brings hip-hop to the concert stage with highly energetic work fusing street dance styles with contemporary storytelling to share the complex political and personal landscapes of Los Angeles. This work creates new language to give voice and a platform to an urban demographic, and uplifts, inspires and leaves the audience with a sense of HOPE for the future.

Students learn about the history of Hip-Hop culture, foundational steps of Hip-Hop and how to choreograph to the rhythmic patterns in words.

Genre: Hip Hop Dance
Ages: 5 and up
Key Skills: Hip-Hop dance, rhythm, choreography, language, writing, social justice
Standards Provided: Grades 3-5

Video Workshop - Party Grooves



The Story Pirates: This Show is Missing

The Story Pirates: This Show is Missing!

Story Pirates was founded in 2004 to celebrate the words, ideas and stories of young people by creating interactive improvisational theatre performances. Their school programs are in 400 schools across the country. This performance celebrates the release of their latest book, Digging up Danger.

Learn how to improvise a story while staying true to the main elements of storytelling.

Genre: Theatre Improvisation
Ages: 8 and up
Key Skills: reading, cooperative script writing, improvisation, elements of a fairytale, plot structure
Standards Provided: Grades 3-5


Hawaiian ‘Ohana: Daniel Ho & Keali' CeballosHawaiian ‘Ohana: Daniel Ho & Keali' Ceballos

Experience the Aloha! An island style collaboration of music and dance by multi-GRAMMY® Award winner Daniel Ho and acclaimed kumu hula, Keali‘i Ceballos. Based on their original musical, Pineapple Mango, this program shares Hawaiian and English language songs and the traditions of hula dance. Daniel, Keali‘i and friends will make you feel at home as they share stories of Hawai‘i, ‘ohana (family) and food!

Learn about Hawaiian music and culture, while making connections to social issues and writing your own song.

Genre: World Music
Ages: 8 and up
Key Skills: Hawaiian state history, Hawaiian culture, alphabet and vocabulary, social issues
Standards Provided: Grades 3-4

Video Workshop - Hawaiian Vocabulary 


CIRCA: Carnival of the AnimalsCIRCA: Carnival of the Animals

Carnival of the Animals whisks you away on a thrilling circus escapade inspired by Camille Saint-Saëns' delightful salute to feathers, fur and fins. Circa’s acrobats bring this classical music suite to life for a whole new generation of circus, music and animal lovers.

Explore the elements of movement through circus including creating choreography, and analyzing movement and short scenes, while understanding the relationship between music and movement.

Genre: Circus Arts, Classical Music
Ages: 5 and up
Key skills: movement, circus, physical storytelling, history of Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of Animals
Standards Provided: Grades 3-5

Thelonious Monk Institute: Jazz for KidsThelonious Monk Institute: Jazz for Kids

The Thelonious Monk Institute is dedicated to “nurturing and recognizing musical greatness.”

As a forum for competition, recognition and education, the Institute makes jazz accessible in concert halls and classrooms around the world.

Enhance your listening skills by mapping out a jazz song and following along with sheet music.

Genre: Jazz
Ages: 8 and up
Key Skills: listening, swing, jazz, instruments, rhythm, dynamics
Standards Provided: Grades 2-4

Aaron Nigel Smith: Reggae BashAaron Nigel Smith: Reggae Bash

Aaron Nigel Smith is a Reggae musician, singer, educator and director of 1 World Chorus, a non-profit with a mission to promote peace through music. Aaron is known for the Emmy-award winning PBS show Between the Lions and was designated by the Marley Foundation as an official Bob Marley Ambassador.

Discover the African and Jamaican roots of Reggae in a journey through history, culture and music. Explore elements of music and the styles of rocksteady, reggae and ska.

Genre: Reggae Music
Ages: 5 and up
Key Skills: improving musical literacy, sing and play music from diverse cultures, read write and perform rhythmic notation
Standards Provided: Grades 3-5

Video Workshop - Reggae Music


Colburn School: Musical Encounter

Colburn’s Musical Encounter program has introduced music and dance to young students for over 40 years. The program combines music, acting, and audience engagement to tell the original story inspired by the Colburn students who are playing the music. Director Debbie Devine works closely with scriptwriter Leon Martell, actors Bennett Shneider and Leeav Sofer and the Colburn students to create this interactive show for young students.  


Musical Encounter: Flute, Marimba, CelloMusical Encounter: Flute, Marimba, Cello

Introduce students to time signature, the similarities between syllables and musical notes.

Genre: Classical Music
Ages: 5 and up
Key Skills: read classical music; time signature; addition and subtraction of fractions; conducting; identify and learn the parts of a flute, marimba, cello
Standards Provided: Grades 3-5


Musical Encounter: Piano, Oboe, BassoonMusical Encounter: Piano, Oboe, Bassoon

This guide illuminates the different families in an orchestra and compares fractions to musical notes.

Genre: Classical Music
Ages: 5 and up
Key Skills: read and write fractions; body percussion; identify and learn the parts of a piano, oboe, bassoon
Standards Provided: Grades 3-5

Colburn School: Magical Mozart & MacaroonsColburn School: Magical Mozart & Macaroons

This learning guide introduces students to instrument families and explores the life and work of Mozart.

Genre: Classical Music
Ages: 5 and up
Key Skills: instruments, horns, strings, brass, Mozart, musical notes
Standards Provided: Grades 3-5

Cambalache: The Music of VeracruzCambalache: The Music of Veracruz

Musician Xochi is joined by Sonero and maestro Cesar Castro and musicians Chuy Sandoval and Juan Perez to become Cambalache (meaning "exchange" in Spanish). They continue the musical tradition of the Son Jarocho, from Veracruz, Mexico. 

Explore Son Jarocho music with your students by writing their own Son Jarocho song, and experiencing rhythmic patterns with zapateado.

Genre: Global Music - Mexico 
Ages: 5 and up
Key Skills: writing, lyrics, story, Son Jarocho, rhythm, zapateado 
Standards Provided: Grades 1-8