Rehearsals for First and Second Grade Plays

The best way to study drama in my combined first and second grade was to visit a professional theatre, before simulating the whole process in our class. Before reading about my entry for rehearsals, read first about the creation of 3 plays and then about the scenery and costumes:

http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=young+Young+Children+Creating+plays+for+a+Study+of+Drama

http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/creating-scenery-and-costumes-for-first-and-second-grade-91362.html

The school stage was at one end of our cafeteria, therefore called the auditeria. Children brought their reading, math, and writing with them to each rehearsal. While one of the three plays was in rehearsal, the children in the other two plays did their school work. I still met for about ½ hour each morning and some time in the afternoons going over writing and math assignments. The assistant teacher and parent volunteers were in the auditeria to assist children, when needed.

For the very beginning, it was explained how loud their own voices sounded but when on the stage, how soft it was to the audience, and about the necessity to project voices without yelling. So to begin with, each child went up on the stage and said a few lines as loud as they could without yelling. I would ask for repeats until I thought the child was speaking as loud as they could, comfortably. Occasionally, a child wasn’t quite loud enough but when it was obvious it was the best to be accomplished, each one was told it was terrific and to try and keep that volume.

Time was spent explaining the need to be confident and poised while always staying in character. They were to fully concentrate upon others on the stage and looking at the audience would be totally out of character. It was interesting to see the results of trying to explain and demonstrate how to be expressive in portraying feelings and emotions consistent with their character – and then to see what they did! Some learned a great deal and were able to initiate their own version of the character they were portraying, some had louder or softer voices, and some just said their lines. I worked with each until I felt it was their best effort no matter what the actual result was. This was a study of drama, never a professional production. Each child should feel proud and pleased with their part. And each did – no matter how accomplished they were or not.

So, with the plays created, scenery and costumes completed, and after final rehearsals, the plays were presented to some grades at school one morning and presented again that evening for parents and friends. I sat close to the stage to help with any cues needed. I was never aware of a child feeling anything but joy and excitement for a job well done. The final productions varied quite a bit. Sometimes they were better than ever varying to sometimes, worse than during rehearsals. But no child or play group was ever told that, and I always heard nothing but how wonderful each child felt with their part. Of course I made every effort to sincerely compliment each child.

Read more about programs, including the whole drama program, in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success. Included is a web site where programs and activities can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

Creating Scenery and Costumes for First and Second Grade

The best way to study drama in my combined first and second grade was to visit a professional theatre, before simulating the whole process in our class. See my entry about creating and presenting these 3 plays:

http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=young+Young+Children+cCeating+plays+for+a+Study+of+Drama

While the plays were being printed and then given to the children to learn their parts, the week was spent making scenery and costumes. Initially, we made new scenery but as time went on we began to repaint the scenery from the previous year. Since the three plays were fairy tales, even if untraditional from the children’s imaginations, the same scenery was used for all three plays with just minor changes. There was always a castle on the left of the stage, several trees representing woods in the middle of the stage, and sometimes a small building on the right side. For instance, one time a play was called,A World of Magic”, the castle was the Kingdom of Glory, the woods were The Woods of Glory, and the second building was The Kingdom of Waralot.

The castle was made from a refrigerator box cut along one side, so it opened in four sections. The two middle sections were full size and each end section shorter. Turrets were cut along the top edge, a door opened and closed big enough for a child to pass through, and windows painted on. Trees, usually three, representing a forest were also made from a refrigerator box with the trunk and top all in one piece. If an additional building was required, it was made from a stove box.  So, for one week, each morning four or five volunteers at a time took turns painting.

Knights’ helmets, vests, shields, swords and lances, plus the crowns for queens, princesses and fairies were made in the afternoons during this first week.

Empty plastic ½ gallon milk cartons were brought in for knights’ helmets. The handle plus space for the face was cut off. These milk cartons seemed to fit each child’s head just fine. Sometimes the top was left but other times a cone was made from oak tag and then stapled on the top of the helmet. Sometimes circular pieces were cut out for each ear and sometimes left covering the ears. Helmets were sent home to be covered with aluminum foil. When returned, sometimes a plume was made by folding colored paper over and over, then strips cut and curled, and placed in a hole on top of the helmet and taped inside.

Knights’ vests were made from two pieces of oak tag, 12” x 18. A V was cut in the middle of the top of the two pieces. About three inches from the edge of the V’s at the shoulders, half heart shapes were cut to fit around each arm. Then the two pieces were taped together at the shoulders. The V was large enough to slip over a head. Two sets of holes were punched on each side for string ties. Vests were also sent home be covered with foil and ties attached. Of course if anyone had a problem with that, all was done in school.

Each knight made two identical shields, representing his crest. After spending time designing it, they were given two oak tag shields to paint. The main shield was about 9” x 12” with strips of oak tag stapled on the back to slip onto an arm and another one about 6” x 7” to be stapled onto the front of a vest.

Swords were cut from cardboard, and lances were made from wrapping paper tubes. After each hilt was decorated in school, they were also sent home for the blades and shafts to be covered with aluminum foil.

It was stressed to parents that costumes from home should be very simple. Knights usually wore a turtle neck shirt and tights borrowed from a sister or dark pants. A good queen, princess, or fairy costume was an adult nightgown. It seemed a shame for a mother to spend time sewing, when each play took about 10 minutes. And everyone seemed very pleased with their nightgown fancy dress. Sometimes fairy wings were made at home and sometimes from oak tag again at school.

Queens, princesses, and fairies had several styles of crowns to choose from made with oak tag. They were sprayed with gold paint and then decorated with various beads, buttons, glitter, etc.

Parents came in on some afternoons to help with making costumes.

See another entry about rehearsals: http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Rehearsals+for+First+and+Second+Grade+Plays

Read more about programs, including the whole drama program, in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success. Included is a web site where programs and activities can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

   Teaching Young Children © Peggy Broadbent 2011 - All Rights Reserved