Six Drama/Theatre Lessons
by Teresa Love
Drama /Theatre Specialist
Fullerton School District
All the Arts for All the Kids
This set of lessons explores dramatic work as one learns to express a story. Since drama can be defined as “an actor with a conflict” and, in most theatre, drama is contained and expressed through story, story literature and character archetypes from six different cultures are explored.
The lessons are linked both to theatre arts standards and history/social science and language arts curriculum standards.
Emphasis is placed on expressional fluency, critical thinking, divergent thinking, cooperative learning, creating solutions to problems, and comparing and contrasting cultures and style.
Students participate in acting exercises, games and playmaking.
Title: Heroes Overcome Obstacles
Overview: Stories of “Good Guys” achieving success against great odds, achieving definitive victory against those odds, seem to be particularly satisfying to the human soul. Whether the hero is likely or unlikely, with supernatural powers or only deserved or blessed luck, he or she, at some point, must overcome an obstacle. The obstacle must be overcome by strength and/or ingenuity.
This is the ongoing struggle that human beings, and perhaps especially children, face. A good Hero story inspires us to be valiant in overcoming our own obstacles.
· Poster of heroes, real and fictional, some easily recognizable, others obscure. Include a variety of ethnic and genders, current and historical heroes. Group the fictional heroes together and the nonfictional heroes together. You will need the group of fictional heroes for Lesson Three.
· Horton Hatches the Egg,by Dr. Suess, Random House, New York, 1968; or other “Hero” story, teacher’s choice.
· White board and markers
Vocabulary: (as is appropriate for grade level)
fictional, real, hero, heroine, protagonist, main character, “good guy”
· Students will differentiate between pictures of real and fictional heroes.
· Students will participate in pantomime of large physical obstacle.
· Students will generate list of ways to overcome the pantomimed obstacle.
· Students will participate in sound and motion during telling of the Hero story.
(If you are using the Story telling tree, use the wrapped gift ornament as a prompt for the students to remember that they are learning to share stories, and that sharing a story is like giving a present.]
Display the pictures of the various heroes. Ask children to identify the characters. Help them to determine which are fictional, and which are real life heroes. Help the children identify those heroes with whom they are not familiar. Share bits and pieces of their hero stories.
1. Establish pantomime of an obstacle. For example, you might say “We’re going to pretend for a little while. Loook! Look at this huge rock that’s right in front of me. It’s so tall I don’t know how I can get over it. It’s so wide I don’t see how I can get around it. What a problem! (Push and pull the obstacle) I just can’t seem to move this obstacle, this problem, at all. Let’s call this big problem an obstacle. Whew! I’m tired. Can anyone think of a way I can get on the other side of this obstacle?”
2. Choose a student to describe his way of solving the problem. Then invite the student up to demonstrate his idea. Work with him as a partner in the pantomime. For example, if a student’s solution is to use a ladder and climb over the top, volunteer to help him get the pantomimed ladder, and climb up, before or after the student. Once you are both on the other side of the obstacle, thank the child profusely. Ask him to “give me five”, or a similar victory ritual. Then say to the child “Hooray!” You overcame the obstacle! You’re my hero!”
3. Repeat step #2 at least two more times, with alternate ways of overcoming the obstacle.
4. Using the white board, write ”Good guys” . Ask students if it is reasonable to describe all the pictured heroes as “good guys”. Write the word “hero” on the board. Share with students the fact that this is another term to describe “good guys”.
5. Write “Heroes overcome obstacles.” Ask for an example from the poster of a hero who overcame an obstacle. Keep equating “solving a big problem”, with “overcoming an obstacle.
6. Also, write on the board the words heroine, and protagonist. Tell students that these are also words to describe the main character in a story. This character is someone who overcomes an obstacle. (Heroine describes a female hero.)
7. Announce to students that you have a story to share about a hero. Tell them there will be places during the story for the audience to help the story teller. (You may want to review the audience’s responsibility as described in Lesson One.)
8. Share Hero story. If it is Horton Hatches the Egg, potential places for the audience to join in the dramatic story telling, from their seats, could be as follows:
· Invite the students to make the sound and motions of a storm during” It poured and it lightninged! It thundered! It rumbled!”
· “Soon it was Autumn. The leaves blew away.” Sound of wind, motion of leaves flying.
· “…and said with a sneeze,” Invite students to sneeze as Horton would sneeze.
· “They taunted. They teased him.” Invite students to make “Nyaaa, nyaaa, nyaaa, nyaa, nyaa” or other playground teasing noises.
· “He held his head high, and he threw out his chest…” Invite students to do the same taking Horton’s stance.
· “Rolling and tossing and splashed by the spray…” Invite students to make the sounds and motion of the ocean.
· Invite students to make the appropriate sounds during “A thumping! A bumping! A wild alive scratching!”
· Invite students to make the appropriate sound after “…the egg burst apart!”
· Invite students to repeat all the crowd says, such as “What’s this all about…?” And ”My goodness! May gracious!” and “My word! It’s something brand new! It’s an elephant-bird!”
· “And they sent him home happy…” allow students to provide “100%!”
9. Review how this fictional character, Horton, was the hero of the story, by helping students to identify the obstacle Horton overcame.
10.If you are using the Story telling tree, ask a student to place the egg ornament on the tree.
· Were students able to identifyfictional and nonfictional heroes?
· Did students participate in the dramatic play of the Obstacle pantomime, including offering ways in which to overcome the obstacle?
· Did the students participate, as cued, using sound and motion during the Hero story?
· Invite students to write or draw a picture of a story in which they, themselves, are the heroes. The obstacle the hero overcomes should be clearly identifiable.
· Invite students to read Horton Hears a Who, also by Dr. Suess. Encourage them to find places in which the audience could add sound and motion to aide the storyteller in the sharing of the story.
· Ask students to think of more unlikely heroes in unusual situations. (A lion protecting a lamb, a mouse helping a cat, a fisherman helping a fish to escape, a kindergartner saving a sixth grader, etc.)
· For older students: Ask students to represent a nonfictional hero’s obstacle in a visual art medium. (For example, a student might draw a picture of Jackie Robinson jumping over a hurdle representing racism.) Discuss how the hero story, told in words, can be translated into visual art.
· For older students: The hero of a story is most often the protagonist of a story. However, sometimes he/she is not. Challenge students to take a hero story, and, without changing the main details of the story, make another character the protagonist. Tell the story from another character’s point of view.