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

Choice Time for First and Second Grade

In my combined first and second grade, Choice Time for children’s  self-initiated learning was an important part of each day, a time to participate and explore in the learning centers – a time to learn on their own. There were math, science, art, writing, and book centers. Each of five centers provided appropriate activities and materials to invite and nurture a child’s joy in discovery and excitement about learning. Concrete experiences serve as a background for new insights and understandings in the world around them. These, in turn, not only kept their minds active but provided an extra basis for abstract thought that would be a benefit throughout all academic areas. The materials in each center were enough to capture the interest of the very brightest students and yet still be appealing to slower or younger children.

Few materials were offered at first in each center increasing as their growth in responsibility progressed. Vital to the smooth functioning of the class, the amount of freedom or choices that children were allowed to have were coexistent and contingent upon the amount of responsibility they were able to assume. Then there was great harmony. Of course, sometimes a child was disruptive or interfering with others and had to be dealt with but the ability to handle numerous choices must be apparent with most of the class. We had very few rules – no fooling around or wasting time and everyone should be busy.

Children were involved for the first thirty to forty minutes each day (while individual students were met for writing and math) followed by an afternoon evaluation time. Projects that could be saved were put on my desk to show and explore with the whole class after lunch and recess. Those that couldn’t be saved, such as constructions in the math center, were shared and discussed just before clean-up time. During the evaluation time, a whole range of ideas were explored with positive comments, constructive suggestions offered, problems discussed and solved, new ideas and concepts introduced, and books read about the displays. In this way, the whole class was involved with others’ projects leading to more understanding for the next day’s investigations.

Important aspects concerning concept development during Choice Time included opportunities for increasing each child’s cognitive development; that concepts developed in the math, science, and art centers overlap one another providing opportunities for cognitive development while participating in any of the three; and the concepts formed in these three centers are the very tools required for successful achievement in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. And there’s no limit to young children’s vast enthusiasm for learning.

Choice Time is a time to further develop abilities necessary for good to excellent achievement in all academic areas. And opportunities in a school program are unlikely to allow such advances in concept attainment as there are in a Choice Time with learning centers.

See my two entries about further cognitive growth: http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Opportunities+for+Cognitive+Growth+During+Choice+Time

and

http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Young+Children%27s+Cognitive+Gains+Through+Art

A complete description with materials and activities of all five learning centers are 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

Reading Comprehension for Beginning Readers

After receiving three reading groups in my first year of teaching, I never used three groups again. The only ones with the most confidence were the top readers in the first group. Because in each group there were variations of ability all recognized by others.

I’m retired now but taught for many years. I developed a program where each child, in my combined first and second grades, had their own reading book and soon was able to choose which stories of interest to read. Good comprehension followed after also being exposed to understanding literature read to them and thinking about writing their own stories.

See my entry about this approach: http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/developing-comprehension-for-beginning-readers-91215.html

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