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What a Wonderful World - Music In a Box

  • Feb 24, 2011
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

Louis Armstrong was not only an African American jazz artist. He was an international ambassador of goodwill through his compositions and performances. During the 1960s, Louis Armstrong performed throughout the world, playing his trumpet and singing such hits as “Hello Dolly.” He broke many barriers through his music, his charisma, and his tenacity to share his love and joy of music. One of the greatest gifts we received from Louis Armstrong is his recording of the song, “What a Wonderful World.” This song was transformed into a beautiful children’s story that we wish to highlight in today’s Musical Storytelling Blog.

Book Title: What a Wonderful World
Appropriate Audience: Babies through Elementary Age
Author/Illustrator: George Weiss and Bob Thiele, Ashley Bryan
ISBN: 0-689-80087-8

Literacy Goals:

  • Phonological awareness: Repetition of the phrase, “What a wonderful world.”
  • Print motivation: Colorful and interesting illustrations. The character of Louis Armstrong holding his trumpet
  • Vocabulary: Emphasizing the “w” sound. Discussing “what is wonderful.”
  • Print Awareness: Colorful illustrations highlighting the text.
  • Letter Knowledge: Finding specific letters.
  • Narrative: The song tells a story about what is wonderful about the world.

Activities/Extension with Music:

  • Playing the recording of Louis Armstrong performing “What a Wonderful World” while reading the book.
  • Creative movement while listening to this song, using colorful ribbon wands or scarves.
  • Creating a “wonderful” globe picture and writing personal reflections on “what is wonderful” to you.
  • Playing egg shakers or percussive instruments to another famous Louis Armstrong song, “Hello Dolly.”
  • Use sign language to sing along with the story.
  • Depending upon the age of the children, discuss some historical highlights about the life of Louis Armstrong.


  • Colorful scarves and ribbon wands
  • CD player, Louis Armstrong recordings of “Hello Dolly” and “What a Wonderful World.”
  • Parachute and/or percussive instruments such as egg shakers
  • Globe picture (could use book globe picture as a model), crayons and/or markers
  • Sign language for specific words found from Joy of Signing.

Parent Education Tips:
Discuss the importance of young children listening to all types of music, including jazz. Young children should listen and experience the unique American sound of jazz. Make listening to music an important part of daily life at home or in the car. Encourage expanding listening to music by utilizing a variety of musical opportunities found at the library, concerts, CD’s, DVD’s in order to provide a multitude of unique learning experiences!

© MacPhail Center for Music, 2011


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