Set up the classroom by putting 7-8 (depending on class size) different colored pieces of paper around the room. These will be “stations”. Put a circle of three chairs in each station. Tape these instructions underneath the colored paper: Think of something that happened to you today (ex: a test, you ate an apple, you watched a movie, you stepped in gum, etc.). Pick ONE thing. Tell each other what your anecdote. Keep it simple. As students enter the classroom hand them slips of paper that have their color on it. There should be three people in each group. Have them follow the instructions in their stations.
Step Two: When everyone has finished telling his/her story, have them move their chairs out so that they can step on them and around them. Tell them that in children’s theatre, the story is very important, so it’s important to know how a story is constructed. Put up the “A Story” overhead and explain the plot structure (including exposition, rising action, climax, and denouement). Have them stand up and step back from their chairs. Have them do as you do. · First, for exposition, walk towards your chair saying “exposition” in an ordinary voice. · Second, for rising action, step on to your chair saying “rising action” with a rising intonation. · Third, for climax, through your arm out into the air while standing on the chair, saying, “climax” with accented stresses and a loud, booming voice. · Fourth, for denouement, step down from the chair slowly, saying “denouement” in a falling intonation.
Step Three: When it appears that everyone can act out plot structure, have them sit in their seats. Using volunteers or students you select, proceed to tell an anecdote about your day, or something that happened to you. Use the students as characters, telling them what to say, and as inanimate objects such as doors, tables, chairs, etc. The story should be simple and incredibly boring. When the story is completed, invite participants back to their seat.
Step Four: Ask them what they thought about the story that you told. Based on the feedback you get, ask them: What could be done for the story to be improved? Put up the overhead on “Ingredients for Good Theatre for Children”. Have them take notes. As you go over each one (using Part 2, pg 38-61 as a guide), ask them how you could add that element into the story that you told to make it more children’s theatre applicable? What ingredients aren’t needed for this particular story? What are some examples of these ingredients in stories you know?
Step Five: Ask them what they think makes a really good story. Put up the overhead of “Stories and Themes that Children Love”. Have them take notes. Talk about each one (using Part 2, 30-38 as a guide) and ask for examples, and explaining that they will have to pick their own story. They will want to pick a story that children will love and that they are able to include all the ingredients in.
Step Six: Have them circle up into their groups and tell their same stories again, expect this time, adding some of the ingredients that were discussed in class. Let them know that they can add anything they want (if appropriate) but it must include at least four of the eighteen ingredients, and one of the themes or stories. Take an informal assessment by listening to each of the groups tell their stories to each other.
Step Six: Have them write down their stories, and turn them into you. If there is time, let volunteers share theirs if they would like to. Remind them of their assignment for the next day.