Each school day, Story Theater takes a different form, often guided by the children’s interests. We always incorporate a “story” of some kind. Sometimes, the stories are directly from picture books and we engage in an interactive story experience. Other times we make up stories and act them out. One beloved (by the kids) aspect of ST is Theater Games. Here are a few details about some of the most popular ones....
Wizard – We break into partners. One person is the wizard and one person is the creature. The wizard says as spell “Alakazoo, Alakazam, bam, bam, bam!” and then tells the creature what “kind” of creature to turn into…. then we switch.
Mirrors – We find a partner and stand face to face. The leader initiates slow or fast movements and the follower tries to mimic the leader.
We then switch. This games takes a lot of concentration but it’s very exciting to have someone copy your actions.
Places on Stage – We use the same wall (in both music rooms) as the designated Audience Wall. From here, we trace our steps to Center Stage, Up Stage, Down Stage, Stage Left, and Stage Right. Sometimes we do it all together or in pairs. We see if we remember when Catharine yells out a stage direction.
Freeze Statue – This is an adaptation of a movement game Lauren plays. In this version, students move around the room until the Freeze Command is heard. The aim is to freeze as some type of creature. Catharine moves around and tries to guess what each child is. She is often WRONG, which is a great laugh for all!
Introductions – In this game, a child starts on the left side of the stage, walks in an interesting way to center stage, stops, and introduces themselves with “Hello, my name is…” then walks in an interesting way off stage. We often add a twist to the game where you introduce yourself as your favorite animal or even someone else in the class!
Bows – In this game, we practice 3 different bows – a regular bow, dramatic bow, and a curtsy. It’s simple, but fun every time! Sometimes we do the bows as a whole group in a straight line while other times we do it in pairs. It’s just a fun way to end a production!
Look What I Can Do – In this game we get to come up on stage and show something we can do like a quick little dance or song. Often, the kids take turns doing the same type of thing but adding a different move. One example are spins. Some kids sing an entire song while others just sing notes. Sometimes kids show us how fast we can run or gymnastics is often very popular. One child showed us how he showed us how he saved the world as a super hero in under a minute!
Silly Piano Songs – In Marit’s piano room, we have a wonderful piano. Catharine plays “silly songs” that made us dance a certain way and explore sounds. Big notes might mean an elephant walking or small high notes are a little mouse. It all depends on the silly song and our interpretations.
Our first explorations for Story Theater in the 5-day class are exploring "stories" through the book Bear Shadow by Frank Asch. In this story, bear really wishes his shadow would leave him alone and go away. He tries to run from it, nail it down, and dig a hole and cover it up. Nothing works! Until he decides that his shadow is actually his friend!
In the grass, we acted out the story with our own shadows. Then we decided that (just like bear) our shadows are ALWAYS with us, so why not be our best friend? We named our shadows. We danced with our shadows. We hugged our shadows. And watched our shadows follow us back into the 5-day classroom. Next time, we are going to talk about how we can use themes in this book write our own play about "shadows."
Inspired by the 5-day window display about the Earth, we explored ways we can help the earth with a game about trash and humans. We talked about ways that the earth can get hurt through pollution. The kids came up with a name for this: Trash Monsters. Those that loved the earth and cleaned up the trash were the Trash Fairies. We talked about how sad it made us when the trash monsters spread trash around the earth. We then acted out being trash monsters, that were taken over by trash fairies. In our discussion about this we explored the emotions about everything, and the kids really had some amazing insights about helping keep Mother Earth happy. Our book was The Earth Book.
Welcome to our first Story Theater post! In January, Catharine started working with kids in various capacities in theater, storytelling, movement, and simply getting used to being in front of people.
Hope also does this in the 3-day class as a part of their explorations.
Mostly, the kids help guide what kinds of experiences they want to have with books and theater. This has turned into a very fun, interactive, and playful experiences that most children get daily. Here are some examples of what we do:
* Each session starts out a with a warm up of a few theater game: Freeze statue, Wizard, Introductions, etc.
* Our first "story exploration" was to read picture book version of Puff the Magic Dragon. Of course, we already knew the song version from music with Marit. This became a fun way to not only compare the versions of the story, but to sing during the book/theater version. We had many kids act out with our main characters: Puff and Jackie Paper. Others came in an out to serve as smaller characters. We always ended with a bow.
* One game, called "Stages and Bows" allows kids to understand where they are in space on a stage. We looked at center stage, left stage, front stage, and back stage. We also practice our formal bow, curtsy, and dramatic bow. Of course, those who are not on stage practice being an active audience member!
* The 5-day class helped write an original story and play: Sophie the Leaf. The story follows a sad leaf who falls from a tree but finds peace in meeting other fallen leaves. They become friends and have a leaf party in the end: Sophie is happy.
* We have explored Puppet Theater just a bit in Story Theater. This is something kids love and of course, we will follow their lead. In the 5-day classroom, our puppet theater is up and ready for business!
While Story Theater is new as a regular experience at Preucil Preschool, we intend to expand next year to possibly produce an original play, etc. We will keep you posted!