Gabriella’s Song Storyline®

written by Colleen Vallerga

The "freeze" of Venice from the Gabriella's Song Storyline.


Gabriella’s neighborhood created by students.

The Storyline is based on the book Gabriella’s Song by Candace Fleming.

Grades: K-3
Total Number of Pages:  127


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Storyline Overview

The story begins with a young girl named Gabriella taking a leisurely stroll along the streets of Venice. As she walks, she listens to the sounds around her.

Students create Gabriella’s city of Venice and become fellow school children in her neighborhood. In their Scuola de Venezia they meet each day to explore the sounds of Venice and listen to the beautiful songs in this City of Music. They take time to analyze, describe, and enjoy the music they hear.

The teacher returns to the book and reads more about Gabriella’s walk through her neighborhood. The sounds of Venice blend and blur in Gabriella’s mind and become a song for her sing. Her song travels to the ears and hearts of her neighbors who hum the catchy tune and pass it along.

The teacher challenges the students to write and sing Gabriella’s song. She guides them on a quest as they become composers and explore sound, create musical instruments, study the elements of music, and work to organize the sounds into a musical composition. Through this process, students experience music from the inside. They become composers, using the elements of music to create Gabriella’s song.

The song is performed for people in the neighborhood. Neighbors share how the song makes them feel.

The teacher continues reading the story. As Gabriella’s song reverberates throughout Venice, it winds its way to the ears of a frustrated composer who cannot find the music for his newest symphony. The tune is just what he has been looking for, and he sets to work on a symphony for all of Venice to hear.

Students see composition at another level when a composer develops their song into a symphony. The Storyline concludes with a presentation of Gabriella’s story and song by the students, and a symphony of the song created by Giuseppe, the composer.

You do not need to be a musically trained teacher to implement this Storyline. Four different composing options are presented, ranging from simple to more complex. You can choose what works for you. Many schools have a music teacher who can provide support and possibly play the part of the composer. The composer’s symphony can be a simple adding of additional instruments, harmony and other moving lines to accompany the tune that students create. It can be created on a computer and played in class. I know from experience that there are artists, out in communities, who are willing and enthused to share their talents with school children. It is an amazing experience to have a classroom of students, a teacher, and a composer work together on this Storyline.

Candace Fleming has written an ideal book for a Storyline, book-based, study. This beautiful story is rich in the five senses, full of creative language, and heartfelt. Enter the world of Gabriella’s Venice and Storyline magic will begin to happen in your classroom.

Standards and Instruction Covered

Common Core Language Arts Standards

Reading Literature

  • Key Ideas and Details
  • Craft and Structure
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Reading Informational Text

  • Key Ideas and Details
  • Craft and Structure
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Speaking and Listening

  • Comprehension and Collaboration
  • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas


  • Text Types and Purposes
  • Production and Distribution of Writing
  • Research to Build and Present Knowledge


  • Vocabulary

Social Science Standards (Oregon Department of Education)

  • Multicultural Studies
  • Geography
  • Historical Knowledge
  • Historical Thinking
  • Social Science Analysis

Art Standards (Oregon Department of Education)

  • Music: Anchor Standards 1-11
  • Visual Art
  • Theater
  • Dance