Questioning the Clouds

The sixth of six cross-curricular lesson plans on British Airways in Europe for Primary or Elementary School children using songs and animations, poetry analysis and writing, music analysis, instrument making, art projects and play ideas.


Questioning the Clouds
Animation by Paula Downes, music by Andrew Downes, poetry by primary school children coached by Julie Boden.


The Poem
Do Gods weave footprints in these fields of snow,
leave signs to show the footpaths of our birth?
We watch as metal trails of men below
move out like ants and then lose sight of Earth.
If only we could dance upon the clouds
as days grow dark and silence holds the storm
and children's smiles are swallowed by the crowds
of tall and faceless me; old ways are worn.
If we could ski along these peaks of sky
If we could bathe in bubblebaths of light
would questions turn marshmallow in your sigh,
would candy flossing clouds kiss us goodnight?
If love could change our shape, if we could pray
for angels' wings, then would we fly away?
Do Gods weave footprints in these fields of snow,
leave signs to show the footpaths of our birth?
We watch as metal trails of men below
move out like ants and then lose sight of Earth.
If we could ski along these peaks of sky
If we could bathe in bubblebaths of light
If love could change our shape, if we could pray
for angels' wings, then would we fly away?
Would we fly away?


Poetry Discussion
Discuss the meaning of the poem, line by line.
Ask if anyone has been on a plane and if so, does the poem conjure up what it is like to fly above the clouds?

Watch this British Airways video about flying from London to Inverness to experience a flight:




Poetry Analysis
Search for rhyming words, nouns, adjectives, verbs. Work out which lines of the poem are repeated at the end.



Poetry Writing
Brainstorm all the words, nouns, adjectives, verbs to do with flying.

Ask the children to select words that rhyme from the brainstorm.

Ask them them to write a poem with the same rhyming structure as the poem in the song, repeating some lines from the beginning at the end.



Music Analysis
The composer makes use of ostinatos to conjure up the excitement and fast forward motion. Watch this video to learn about ostinatos.


Now listen to the song again, noticing the ostinatos and listen to the melody played by the trombone before the voice comes in with the same melody.

Listen to a trombone playing here to allow you to hear the trombone in the song more easily.


At the words, 'If we could ski along these peaks of sky', the music reaches a climax with the voice now in two parts, singing in octaves to make it sound louder and thicker, so more exciting. 

An octave is an interval. An interval is the distance between two notes. To work out an interval on the white notes of the piano, count the first note, the last note, and all the notes in between. An octave is 8 notes. Watch this video to learn how we count intervals. 


Now listen to the song again and notice the moments when the voice is singing in two parts in octaves (from, 'If we could ski along these peaks of sky'). The two notes sound extremely similar, one is higher than the other. Try and sing the higher and lower octaves.



Art Project
Draw a scene from the song.


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