Classroom Connections


Enjoy some of the incredibly wonderful ideas and powerful resources we have gathered in our 26 year history! Our work with many teachers have given us great ideas and materials that connect our shared history and culture to Jazzistry.

Come back to this page for MORE Postings each week!

A Jazzy Riddle for Two Players

Here is a fun riddle for ‘alternative problem-solving’, like acting it out or drawing. Great for 2 cooperating actors. Not only is it fun to work out the answer, it also demonstrates what happens when jazz musicians combine different rhythms, like in Afro-Cuban jazz, where the percussion section combines diverse patterns simultaneously for amazing results! Here’s an example from the Afro-Cuban Jazz Project.

Strolling with Jazz Giants

Dizzy and The Bird (Charlie Parker) walk side by side down 42nd Street.

Both step out with their left foot first.

The Bird takes two steps to go one foot, while Dizzy takes three steps to go one foot.

How far will they have gone before they both step out with the left foot at the same time?

What about stepping out with the right foot at the same time?

How far will they have gone before they both land on the left foot at the same time?

What about landing on the right foot?


(Based on the wonderful cooperative math/science activities from EQUALS, Lawrence Hall of Science, UC-Berkeley).

READ-ALOUD: A Bebop Fable by Steve Allen: Crazy Little Red Riding Hood

Cartoon of crazy red riding hood meeting hip jazzy wolf

Note: This swinging story was written in the early 1950’s by jazz musician and comedian, Steve Allen, for his record album of music called Bebop Fables. The story’s ultra hip language––radical, yet appropriate for the time––demonstrates how jazz slang has infiltrated our language and permeated our popular culture at the highest level. Many of Allen’s hip phrases are so common today, it is a challenge to imagine conversing without the jazzy lingo. This story was subsequently published with illustrations in a collection of Allen’s modernized fairy tales, published as Steve Allen’s Bop Fables (Simon & Schuster, 1955) but is currently out of print. 

By Steve Allen

Gather ‘round, kiddies, and your old Uncle Steve will tell you another story.

Once upon a time, many, many years ago in the Land of Oobopshebam, there lived a lovely little girl named Red Riding Hood.

To give you an idea of what a sweet thing she was, children, I’ll just say that she was not only a lovely little girl; she was a fine chick.

  One day Red Riding Hood’s mother called her into the kitchen and said, “Honey, your grandma is feeling the least.”

“What a drag!” said Red, “What’s the bit?”

“Hangsoverville, for all I know,” said her mother. “At any rate, I’ve fixed up a red wild basket of ribs and a bottle of juice. I’d like you to fall by grandma’s joint this afternoon and lay the stuff on her.”

“Crazy,” said Red, and picking up the basket, she took off for her grandmother’s cottage, going by way of the deep woods.

Little did Red Riding Hood know that a big bad wolf lurked in the heart of the forest.

She had traveled but a short distance when the wolf leaped out from behind a bush and confronted her. “Baby,” he said, grinning affably, “Gimme some skin!”

“Sorry, Daddy-O,” said Red. “Some other time. Right now I have to make it over to my grandmother’s place.”

“Square-time,” said the wolf. “Why don’t you blow your grandmother and we’ll have some laughs.”

 “Man,” said Red, “Cootie left the Duke and I’m leaving you. For the time being, we’ve had it.”

“Mama, I’m hip,” said the wolf. “Dig you later.”

So saying, the wolf bounded off through the forest and was soon lost to sight. But his evil mind was at work. Unbeknownst to Red, he took a short cut through the trees and in a few minutes stood panting before the helpless old grandmother’s cottage.

Quietly he knocked at the door.

“That’s a familiar beat,” said Red’s grandmother. “Who’s out there?”

“Western Union,” lied the wolf. “I have  special invitation to Dizzy’s opening at Birdland.”

“Wild!” said the grand mother, hobbling across the room.

Imagine her horror when, on opening the door, she perceived the wolf! In an instant he had leaped into the house, gobbled her up and disguised himself in her night clothes.

Hearing Red Riding Hood’s footsteps on the stones of the garden path, he leaped into the poor lady’s bed, pulled the covers up to his chin and smiled toward the door in a grandmotherly way.

When little Red Riding Hood knocked he said, “Hit me again. Who goes?”

“It’s me, Gram!” said Red Riding Hood. “Mother heard you were feeling pretty beat. She thought you might like to pick up on some ribs.”

“Nutty,” said the wolf. “Fall in.”

Red Riding Hood opened the door, stepped inside and looked around the room. “Wowie!” she said, “What a crazy pad!”

“Sorry I didn’t have time to straighten the joint up before you got here,” said the wolf. “But you know how it is. What’s in the basket?”

“Oh, the same old jazz,” said Red.

“Baby,” said the wolf, “don’t put it down.”

“I have to,” said Red, “It’s getting heavy.”

“I didn’t come to play straight,” said the wolf. “Let’s open the basket. I’ve got eyes.”

“I’m hip,” said Red, “not to mention the fact that you can say that again. Grandma, what frantic eyes you have!”

“The better to dig you with, my dear,” said the wolf.

“And, Grandma,” said Red, “I don’t want to sound rude, but what a long nose you have.”

“Yeah, “ said the wolf. “It’s a gasser.”

“And, Grandma,” your ears are the most, to say the least.”

“What is this,” snapped the wolf, “face inspection? I know my ears aren’t the greatest, but whadda ya gonna do? Let’s just say somebody goofed!”

“You know something?” little Red Riding Hood said, squinting suspiciously at the furry head of the wolf. “I don’t want to sound square or anything, but you don’t look like my grandmother at all. You look like some other cat.”

“Baby,” said the wolf, you’re flippin’!”

“No, man,” insisted Red. “I just dug your nose again and it’s too much. I don’t want to come right out and ask to see your card, you understand, but where’s my grandmother?”

The wolf stared at Red Riding Hood for a long, terrible moment. “Your grandmother,” he said, “is gone.”

“I’m hip,” said Red. “She is the swinging’est, but let’s take it from the top again. Where is she?”

“She cut out,” said the wolf.

“Don’t hand me that jazz,” said Red, whereupon the wolf, being at the end of his patience, leaped out of bed and began to chase poor Red about the room.

Little did he know that the wolf season had opened that very day and that a passing hunter could hear little Red Riding Hood’s frantic cry for help.

Rushing into the cottage, the brave hunter dispatched the wolf with one bullet.

“Buster,” said Red gratefully, “Your timing was like the end, ya know?”

And so it was.