This was the Creative Arts Playgroup's 2nd week with Brian Lies' Bats at the Beach. We exercised our theatre skills today by acting as bats flying and playing in the ocean. Then we created tableaux from Lies' beautiful illustrations. The kids really seemed to enjoy creating the tableaux. With this age group, the illustrations provided them with a concrete anchor of what we wanted to create. As they become more comfortable with tableaux, perhaps we will create our own in addition to the ones in the story.
*Bats at the Beach* by Brian Lies was our story this week, but I don't think the kids were able to focus on it. The weather was beautiful, we had the Creative Arts Playgroup outside...which distracted us from the story and our artwork. I think the chickens in our backyard are just too novel! It was a valuable lesson for me. When working with the younger ages, I should either: 1) Do the story and art first and then go outside, or 2) use the distractions of the outdoors in our art project somehow. For our art, I cut up an old loofah. Laying a bat shape on a blue piece of construction paper (like the background in Lies' illustrations), the kids used the loofah to paint around the bat. This idea came from Mom to 2 Posh Lil' Divas (http://www.momto2poshlildivas.com/2012/10/spiders-and-bats-in-preschool.html).
For our second week of *King Bidgood's in the Bathtub*, the Creative Arts Playgroup acted out the story. The Page was the most popular part with each kid getting a turn to be The Page. In addition to there being a King Bidgood in the Bathtub, we had a Queen Bidgood in the Bathtub. It's always fun to act out a story in as many ways as possible.
Last week, I facilitated a professional development workshop on drama integration for secondary teachers in Texarkana. The folks who hired me from TRAHC (the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council) wanted me to focus on facilitating the teachers through the adaptation process. We don't want teachers to simply repeat the exercises and lessons we do. We want the teachers to actually adapt the exercises so they are teaching THEIR content THROUGH the exercises. I facilitated the teachers in considering the concepts underlying the exercises. Once they were able to identify those concepts, they easily adapted the exercises to their content. These teachers are totally invested in drama integration and absolutely enjoyed the luxury of having time to brainstorm.
We created a "Living Rock Cycle" around the room. These teachers are creating the "compaction and cementation of sediments." I wish you could hear their sound effects!
The day after the professional development workshop, I modeled using drama to teach the five story elements of plot, setting, theme, characters, and conflict. Here you see two students "writing" a story with their bodies with administrators looking on.
Here you see us learning to play the game Donkey. Once the students understood the traditional way of playing the game, we reinforced the five story elements
This was our best playgroup yet. We read Audrey Wood's hilarious book *King Bidgood's in the Bathtub*. For our art, we bubble painted King Bidgoods inside castle bathrooms. The kids absolutely LOVED bubble painting. It was a great reminder that, at this age, the final product is absolutely secondary to the artistic process. It was also a reminder that the kids often have the best ideas. One of them didn't like the color scheme I suggested and did her own thing. I liked her color choices better. And Clem later drew a face on King Bidgood that really added some great personality to the piece. Here you can see pictures of the kids having fun with their bubble paint and then their final products.
For our Creative Arts Playgroup, we read *Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock* again. Given our greater familiarity with the text, we acted parts out this week. We also created an Anansi watercolor/crayon resist/handprint. I got this idea from Art. Paper. Scissors. Glue! (http://art-paper-scissors.blogspot.com/2011/10/hand-print-spider-prints.html). We had a small but fun group. Below are the prints. I loved reading the book a second time, and
I started a Creative Arts Playgroup for Clem and other home-schooled kindergarteners. For our first meeting together, we read Kimmel's *Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock.* In the book, Anansi, the African trickster, tricks all the animals into saying the words "What a strange moss-covered rock!" over a magic rock. The animals immediately pass out after saying the magic words, and Anansi steals food from them. The Little Bush Deer watches Anansi's trickery and decides to give him a dose of his own medicine. We used collage and an overlay to create our own Little Bush Deers. Below you see some examples of our labor. Our first playgroup was so much fun. We look forward to getting to know each other better and creating more art together!
About the Author: April Gentry-Sutterfield is a director, deviser, educator, and mom who uses theatre as a tool for social justice, education, and community engagement.