One Book, Many Lessons: Ada’s Violin: the story of the recycled orchestra of Paraguay


Ada’s Violin: the story of the recycled orchestra of Paraguay
By: Susan Hood

A town built on a landfill. A community in need of hope. A girl with a dream. A man with a vision. An ingenious idea. Ada and her family live in Paraguay in a town that is the main garbage dump for the capital city. Many in Ada’s family and her neighbors survive by recycling or selling items they find in the dump. Instead of the idea of the items being trash, Ada chooses to believe that the garbage is full of surprises. Others realize the garbage is full of surprises after the trash is transformed into musical instruments needed for children to participate in a music program.


Math: Pose a problem-solving activity for the students to solve together. Each student is asked to think of an orchestra instrument he/she would like to learn to play. The student must find out how much that instrument would cost to purchase new. Then, the class will find out how much it will cost for all the students to create a classroom orchestra. But, the students could create the classroom orchestra cheaper by purchasing used instruments. Have students now find the instruments on an online instrument selling site and then compare the used price with the new price to see how much cheaper it would be for the entire class to purchase used instruments..

Art: Following the math activity listed above, let students think creatively on how they can create their own musical instruments. Provide materials, particularly used materials, for students to create musical instruments.

Reading & Science:  Provide books about environmental issues, such as those listed in our Thematic Reading List, for students to read.

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