Musical Contexts - Primary/Key Stage 2 Unit 11 - Journey Into Space

Learning, Listening, Composing & Evaluating Activities
Performing Activities - Songs & Scores
Starter & Plenary and Cover/Homework Activities

Exploring Programme Music and Dynamics

About the Unit: This unit takes, as its starting point, Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” as a basis for creative composition tasks leading to a class musical performance of a “Journey Into Space”.  It’s based on the Musical Contexts Key Stage 3 unit Year 8 Unit 6 “Music and Space”, with various modifications for Key Stage 2 and Primary pupils.  Pupils listen to different extracts from Holst’s “The Planets” at various points throughout the unit, beginning with “Mars, The Bringer of War”, exploring how Holst basis this movement on an ostinato pattern.  After performing and creating their own ostinato patterns and adding dynamic contrasts in the form of crescendos and diminuendos, pupils create their own descriptive “Mars” pieces incorporating an ostinato and other musical features which Holst uses in his movement.  Central to the unit are the concepts of mood, tempo, dynamics and instrumentation (or timbre) and these are explored through Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” which pupils explore in terms of a piece of descriptive music used to describe a “Rocket Launch”.  Finally, pupils create musical soundscapes for the other planets, structuring these with the opening “Rocket Launch” theme for a class musical performance of their Journey Into Space.  There’s an optional improvisation task which can be used in the final performance where selected pupils create a spontaneous soundscape to describe the final planet in their journey – Pluto. 


Element Focus - Rhythm, Timbre & Dynamics, Structure & Form

Journey Into Space from Musical Contexts provides a range of fun and exciting music activities and learning opportunities combining singing, performing, composing and listening and appraising with all of the resources you’ll need in one place!  Ideal for non-specialist music teachers (with a wealth of supporting media files to model tasks and a detailed scheme of work and lesson plans) and a wealth of fresh inspiration for music specialists.  This unit has cross-curricular links with the popular primary topics of The Solar System, The Planets, Space Exploration and Space Travel.  Scroll down to see the variety and range of resources and activities on offer. 

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Sample Materials

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GCSE Music

Music Documents

Musical Contexts

Key Stage 2 Music Resources


Frequently Asked Questions



Lesson Plan (PDF)

Lesson Plan (DOC)

Lesson Bundles (ZIP)

Download all the resources you need for each lesson (excluding video files) in a ZIP file.

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Lesson 1

Exploring Holst and “The Planets”

Lesson Plan 1

Lesson Plan 1

Lesson 1

Resource Bundle

Lesson 2

Exploring “Mars” and the “Mars Ostinato”


Lesson Plan 2

Lesson Plan 2

Lesson 2

Resource Bundle

Lesson 3

Exploring “Lift Off” Music & Dynamics

Lesson Plan 3

Lesson Plan 3

Lesson 3

Resource Bundle

Lessons 4 & 5

Exploring a class “Planets Suite”

Lesson Plans

 4 & 5

Lesson Plans

4 & 5

Lessons 4 & 5

Resource Bundle

Lesson 6

A Class “Journey Into Space”

Lesson Plan 6

Lesson Plan 6

Lesson 6

Resource Bundle





Worksheet 1

Learning about Holst and The Planets

Worksheet 2

Mars, The Bringer of War Composing Sheet

Worksheet 3

Mars, The Bringer of War Evaluation Sheet

Worksheet 4 - Listening to Jupiter from The Planets

(uses Audio 4)


Audio 4 - Jupiter from The Planets (Holst)





Worksheet 5 - Listening to Moon Music

(uses Audio 6)


Audio 6 - Listening to Moon Music

Worksheet 6 - Listening to Saturn, Uranus and Neptune from The Planets

(uses Audio 7)


Audio 7 - Saturn, Uranus and Neptune from The Planets (Holst)

Worksheet 7

The Planets

Composing Cards

Worksheet 8

Journey Into Space Evaluation Sheet





Worksheet 9 - Pluto - The Missing Planet

Improvisation Sheet

Worksheet 10 - Listening to Also Sprach Zarathustra

(uses Audios 8 & 9)


Audio 8 - Also Sprach Zarathustra 1

Audio 9 - Also Sprach Zarathustra 2






Score 1 - The Mars Ostinato

(example on Audio 2 & MIDI 1)


Audio 2 - The Mars Ostinato


MIDI 1 - The Mars Ostinato

Score 2 - Performing Also Sprach Zarathustra

(can be enlarged to A3)




Video 1 - Space Exploration


(01:01 7MB)

Video 2 - Apollo 11 Lift Off


(01:04 6 B)

Video 3 - Earth From Space


(00:27 3MB)




Video 4 - Eagle has Landed


(01:48 11MB)

Video 5 - One Small Step for Man


(00:43  5MB)

Starter/Plenary 1 - Listening to Mars and Venus from The Planets

(uses Audio 1)


Audio 1 - Mars and Venus from The Planets (Holst)






Starter/Plenary 2 Listening to Mercury from The Planets

(uses Audio 3)


Audio 3 - Mercury from The Planets (Holst)

Starter/Plenary 3 - Listening for Themes in Jupiter from The Planets

(uses Audio 4)


Audio 4 - Jupiter from The Planets (Holst)

Starter/Plenary 4

Planning the Class Journey Into Space

Starter/Plenary 6

My Journey Into Space Learning






Starter/Plenary 5 - The Planets Card Sort

(uses Audio 5)


Audio 5 - Selection from The Planets (Holst)


Cover/Homework 1

Journey Into Space Key Words Word Search

Cover/Homework 2

Journey Into Space Kriss Kross

Cover/Homework 3

Gustav Holst and The Planets