First of all, I read them a brief biography of Vivaldi and talked a bit about the Baroque period.
I used the book, Lives of the Musicians, by Kathleen Krull as a start-off point.
These biographies are short - about 2 pages each - fun, concise and keep my students attention. And of course, the pictures are hilarious!
We talked briefly about Vivaldi's Invisible Orchestra and then I read them the delightful book, Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra.
The illustrations alone are BEAUTIFUL and the kids LOVED this! Although it's a fictional twist to a true story, it was a great way to help them understand the times and the composer. I really love this book.
At this point, I talked briefly about art and music during the Baroque period and let them know they would be creating their own artwork based on a piece written by Vivaldi. They loved this! I read them the poem behind "Spring", handed them cardstock and crayons and popped my ipod into it's dock so they could listen to this wonderful piece. (Besides, with temperatures hovering around zero degrees here in Connecticut, Spring is definitely on our wishlist!)
Here's a look at some of the students in one of my groups proudly displaying their pictures.
All of this took about 50 minutes of a 90 minute group lesson, leaving about 40 minutes for some rhythm and note ID review (with games, of course!). We seriously had a fabulous time and really enjoyed learning about this wonderful composer.