Warm-up:As you go through the usual warm-up, call on the students to ask them what comes next and what body parts they should stretch.
Read the Goodnight Gorilla story.
Stop reading right before the section where the gorilla crosses the street to the zookeeper’s house. Ask the students where they think the animals are going. Are they going to a party? To the library?
Explain that you think the animals are all going to a party. All of the animals really want to go.
Tell the students we are going to imagine we are in the world of the zoo.
Take the students on a tour of the classroom. Explain that they are currently sitting in cages and that they are the different animals in the zoo. The teacher is the gorilla with the keys to their cages. Divide the students into pairs or small groups and point to a spot on the floor for each group. Explain that this is their “cage” and they cannot leave it.
Each student chooses an animal to portray. (It need not necessarily be one that was mentioned in the book). Explain the rules: The teacher, as the gorilla, will move around the classroom and stop at each cage. The teacher says “What sort of animal are you?” The student uses voice and movement to portray what animal they are. The teacher deduces what they see. “You look like you’re on all fours and you’re growling…are you a tiger?”
Once each animal is guessed, let the students out of their cage and tell them to join the line. The students will then follow the teacher around the classroom as their animal as the teacher opens the rest of the cages.
If there is a second teacher available, have them act as the “zookeeper.” The students will need to stay very quiet so as not to be caught by the zookeeper and sent back to their cages. The zookeeper looks away, but every time the zookeeper turns around, the students will need to freeze! They should stay that way until the zookeeper turns around again.
Have the line of animal-turned-students follow you to a corner of the classroom where they can have their party. Once we reach the party, tell them that they can be loud, dance, and make the noise of their animal. Put on some music for a minute and have the students dance the way they think their animal would.
After the “party” is over, read the rest of the Good Night Gorilla book. Once that’s done, lead the students out of the party to the zookeeper’s house, just as it happens in the book. Have the animals pretend to come into the zookeeper’s house and fall asleep.
Tell the students that you will now become the zookeeper’s wife (or have the second teacher act the role). Pretend to wake up, exclaim surprise at having so many animals in your house, and then take the students back to the cages where they originally began.
Discuss:What was it like pretending to be an animal? How did you change your voice and movement to act like an animal? How did you use your bodies and voices to help the rest of the class guess what animal we were representing?
(By a raise of hands). How many of you made soft movements? Hard movements? Soft or loud sounds? What part of your body did you use most?
Wrap-up: Explain that the students have done a wonderful job creating their own characters from scratch!