Creative Drama Group Character Lesson
Authors: Carrie Lopez, Carly Masters & Esther Ting
National theatre standards:
TH:Re9.1.1. Compare and contrast the experiences of characters in a guided drama experience (e.g., process drama, story drama, creative drama)
TH:Re8.1.1.b. Identify causes of character actions in a guided drama experience (e.g., process drama, story drama, or creative drama)
- “Big Pumpkin” by Erica Silverman
- Slips of paper, each with a character name (mummy, witch, ghost, vampire)
- Hula Hoop
- Pencils and Paper
Objective: Students will be able to portray character through the use of voice, gestures, body movements, and collaborative problem-solving through portraying a character in the story Big Pumpkinby Erica Silverman and coming up with a solution to get the pumpkin off the vine.
- Everyone stands up. Then, we discuss and physicalize what characters they will be for upcoming Halloween.
- Read “Big Pumpkin” from the beginning. Whenever a new character is introduce, pause and ask:
○ “Show me a frozen picture of ______.”
○ “Show me how does _______ sound like.”
○ “Show me how would _______ say big pumpkin.”
○ “Show me how would _______ take the pumpkin out.”
- Give side-coaching as the students explore the physicality and voice of the characters.
○ Mummy: “The mummy is bounded, show me how would this affect his movements and his voice.”
○ Witch: “The witch cannot take the pumpkin out, give me a sound to show how she feels.”
○ Ghost: “The ghost does not have feet, show me how he would take the pumpkin out with his feet.”
○ Vampire: “The vampire has very sharp teeth, show me how he would speak with his sharp teeth.”; “The vampire is very tall, show me how he would walk with his long legs.”
- Allow time for the students to explore and create each character. Read until the bat is introduced.
CONTINUE BOOK/CHARACTER LAUGH
- Start reading at the page where the bat is introduced. After reading the part where the characters laugh at bat, ask the students, “Why are the characters laughing at the bat?” Take a quick moment to discuss possible reasons. (i.e. he is too small to help, doesn’t have hands so he couldn’t pull the pumpkin, etc.) Ask the students to choose one of the characters to briefly portray and ask them (after 3,2,1) to pretend to be that character...laugh as their character and point/roll eyes/shake head etc. at the bat. How do you think that made the bat feel? Then continue with the next few lines, “I may not be big and I may not be strong,” said the bat. But I have an idea.” Tell the students that you are going to “pause” the book for a bit, however, we will still find out what the bat’s idea was in just a bit.
PROBLEM SOLVING & CHARACTER COLLABORATION
- Put down the book and review with the students the ideas the previous characters have had to get the pumpkin off the vine. Ask the students, “What other ideas do you have to get the pumpkin off the vine? What might you try?” We are going to explore this question some more...
- PARTNER WORK: Then ask students to find a partner and once they have done so to sit criss cross with linked arms. Go around and have each pair pick a slip with a specific character written on it. (ghost, witch, mummy, vampire) Ask them to discuss with partner what ideas their chosen character might come up with to try to get the pumpkin off the vine. Think as your character. Give them about 1 min.
- Next have the partners get on their feet and act out, as their characters, their solution to getting the pumpkin off the vine. Both students in the partnership are that particular character. Remember to act as your character, move like them, talk like them. Do they succeed or fail at getting the pumpkin off? How do they react to this?
- GROUP SHARE: Come back together and sit on the ground. Ask students to share their ideas (variations--1) they can each perform them for the class or 2) freeze in an image of their characters in action trying to get the pumpkin off the vine and the class tries to guess what they are doing) There are more ways than one to get what we want.
- Continue reading the story up until the part where the pumpkin breaks off and lands at the door. Discuss with the students about what just happened in the story. What was the bat’s plan? Why is it good to work together?
- Introduce the activity by bringing out a hula hoop. Ask a couple of the students if they can raise and lower the hula hoop using only the top of their index finger, without hooking their finger and without anyone’s help. Then as a group, have everyone balance the hula hoop on the top of their index finger and then try and lower it to the ground, focusing on all moving at the same speed. Once this activity is done, discuss what just happened. What were some of the ways we had to work together? What would have happened if one person moved too fast or too slow? What are some examples in your own life of times where you needed to work together as a group in order to do something?
- Have the kids sit back down and continue reading the story until the end. After the story is finished, reflect on the character of the bat. How do you think the bat felt when everyone laughed at him? Why do you think the other characters laughed at the bat before they heard his idea? Why is it important not to judge people based on what they look like? Is there a time where you have ever felt sad or judged too quickly by someone else?
WRITING IN ROLE:
- Tell the kids to think back to when they were in each of their character groups. Whatever character they were (witch, vampire, ghost, or mummy) they will pretend to be them as they each write a letter to the bat. Tell the kids to say whatever they think that the bat deserves to hear, whether it is an apology for laughing at him, or thanking him for the idea of working together to get the pumpkin off.
Once the kids are finished with their letters, we will discuss what we have learned today
- Character questions: What were some of the ways we were able to show different characters? How did you show your character with your voice? How did you show your character with your body? How did you show your character with the way you chose to try and move the pumpkin in your group?
- Other questions?