FREE RESOURCES: Classroom Activities [ Page 7 ]
Student discussions, exercises, games before and after the play
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The Pinocchio Game: Kids Become Puppets
A Fun Idea for Creative Dramatics

This is a really great way to start a rehearsal on a physical high. It is a warm-up, stretching exercise with dramatic content to keep it focused. It is named after the wooden puppet (if you do it at Christmas, you can call it The Nutcracker Game). The game consists basically of a narrative pantomime of the wooden puppet SLOWLY coming to life. Here are some things you can say to play the game:

Right now you're made completely of wood. Your arms and legs are carved from a single piece of wood. You can't move any part of yourself at all.

Now a magic spell has begun. It begins at the top of your head. The spell moves down slowly until your head down to your eyebrows is flesh and blood. Try and move your eyebrows.

ArtReach’s Pinocchio!  Kids Become Puppets!
School Plays for Kids to Perform!  Pinocchio! Large Cast School Plays and Scripts for Kids!  Pinocchio!
Kenwood School, Minneapolis -- 3rd, 4th and 5th Graders.

The spell keeps moving down. Now you can move your eyes! All your life you've been staring straight ahead, and now you can look to the sides.  The spell gets to your ears and your nose. See if you can wiggle them.  The spell gets to your mouth. You can smile. It feels strange at first, and probably looks pretty strange too, but you grow more comfortable with it. Try some other facial expressions as well. 

Slowly you discover that you can turn your head. Careful! You can look up and down carefully as well. Look! You have feet! This is the first time you were ever sure.

The spell reaches your shoulders. But remember, your arms and hands are still attached to your body, since you are carved from a single piece of wood, so you can move ONLY your shoulders. Try some circles. Do you feel a tingle up and down your spine? That's the magic working.

The spell reaches your chest. You can puff it out like a soldier. Your elbows can move now, but still not your hands. As the spell goes lower, see if you can pull your left hand away from your body. Ooofff! You did it.

Bring your hand up to your face and study it. See if you can move the fingers. Wow! You've never seen anything so beautiful! See if you can get your right hand free as well. Does it move too?

The spell has reached your waist. Carefully bend forward, to the side. See if you bend backwards. See if you can make a circle. The spell reaches your hips, but your knees are still locked together and your feet are still attached to your pedestal. The spell gets to your knees. See if they bend!

Reach down and see if you can pull your left foot free. Ooofff! Point the toe. Flex the foot. Make little circles. Now see if you can get your right foot free. You're all real now! See how you can move. Careful at first – these are your first steps! Let's find all the ways our new bodies move!

And so on&ldots;

Aladdin Drama Fun and Activities
Performing Aladdin?  Try these in your classroom first.

MAGIC CARPET: Have children draw a place on the floor around their desk. Pretend it is a magic carpet. Tell them to close their eyes and wait until you count:  one, two, three! Imagine that you are flying on a magic carpet. What do you see  below you? What do you see above you? Where do you want the carpet to take you?

Brings Out in the Best in Your Kids!
Almost all parts may be played by a boy or girl! Magic carpet ride!
ALADDIN at Vergennes Union Elem School (VT) 

LAMPS: Discuss the lamp that the Genie lives in. Is it like any lamp you have seen before? Discuss the difference between it and what you have seen. Discuss the history of oil lamps. Why are lamps such an important part of our lives?

GENIE: Pretend you are a Genie in an oil lamp. How do you like it in there? Do you have furniture? Do you want to get out? How would you dress if you were a Genie? Can you think of other magical creatures like Genies? Are there similar characters in the stories you watch on TV or in the movies?

THREE WISHES: Teacher, pretend you are Genie and you have the power to grant each child three wishes. Have them write down their three wishes. What do you want more than anything in the world? Sometimes you can wish for a thing like a new car. And sometimes you can wish for something that is not tangible, the way the Genie wishes for his freedom. What kind of things like that do you wish for? Happiness? Love? Now think of others such as friends and family. What do you wish for them?

THE CAVE OF WONDERS: Have some of the children create the cave doors. Others may ask to be let in the cave by calling out: Open Sesame! The cave may refuse to admit them but they must explain their reasons. If the children are admitted what do they find there? Have them pretend they are in a cave that is dark and echoic. What kind of treasure might they find there? If you find a statue made of gold have someone show how that statue would look.

Kids Love the Funny Characters!
Magical Play for Kids to Perform!  Aladdin! Easy and Fun for Kids!  Aladdin!
Magician, Aladdin, Persia - Monkton Central School, Vermont

IMAGINARY FRIENDS: Have the children think about what kind of side kick they would like to have with them all the time, the way Aladdin has his cat Persia. What kind of animal would you have? If they could talk what would be their language? Would they help you in times of trouble? If they got in trouble what would you do for them?

PALACES: Have the children compare their house to a palace? What would a palace have that you don’t have at home? What would the palace be made of?  Sugar, chocolate, ice, glass? What would your room in the palace look like? Would you let other people live there too?

MAGIC STAFF: Omar the Magician has a magic staff where he keeps all his magic power. If you had magic power where would you keep it? In your backpack, in your hat, in your desk? Name two things that your power lets you do that you cannot do without it. Would you want to be invisible, to fly, to have new toys? If you could give one of your powers away who would you give it to?

PRINCES AND PRINCESSES: Pretend you are a prince or princess. What clothes would you wear and where would you live? Would you go to school? Would you have to do homework? If you were a princess what would be different from the way you are now?

MUSIC: Listen to Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Discuss the origins of the piece and talk about which parts you liked best. Read the story of Scheherazade and talk about how the music fits the parts of the story.

Listen to Scheherazade (Vienna Philharmonic)

DIFFERENT STORIES: The original story in this Guide is quite different from the story in the play. Can you identify the different parts? Why do you think the story is different? If you could change the story what would you put in?

CREATIVE WRITING: Aladdin is just one of many stories from The Arabian Nights.  Have the children write a story that is all their own using the same characters: Boy, girl, magician, sultan, genie – maybe even give them different names. Discuss what their new story is about. Love, power, freedom, good over evil?  What can the characters do to prove they have these things?

Heroes Are Made of This: Studying the Characters of Heroes
Language Arts/Social Studies Classroom Activity for A Thousand Cranes
First Stages Theatre, Milwaukee

(This activity is in the online A Thousand Cranes study guide:
Taken directly from:

1. Divide the class into small groups, and ask them to list as many heroic and un-heroic traits as they can.

2. After allowing students ample time to brainstorm in their groups, ask each group to share their ideas. 

a. As students list their traits, write them on the board, chart paper, or an overhead transparency so that you have a class list of traits. Ask students to copy the traits down for later use.

b. Ask the class to infer any heroic traits based upon un-heroic traits or vice versa.

A Powerful Story About a Real Hero
Classroom Activities A Thousand Cranes Hero Activity for Sadako Play Study Guide Materials from First Stage A Thousand Cranes
Honolulu Theatre for Youth - The National School of Drama, Delhi, India - First Stage Milwaukee
For A Medium Size (Medium) Cast of Teens, Middle Schools, High Schools

3. Next, ask the class to discuss why these various traits listed are classified as heroic or un-heroic. 

a. Make a point of identifying which traits the class agrees on and which there is some question about. It is fine if there is disagreement. The point with this exercise is not to create consensus but to explore the idea of heroism, which is a culturally constructed concept.

4. Ask students to name heroes-historical, contemporary, or fictional. List the names students share on the board, an over head, or chart paper.

5. Ask students to name some villains-historical, contemporary, or fictional. Again, list the names students share on the board, an overhead, or chart paper.

6. Once you have a good list, ask the class to discuss the individuals on the board, using the following questions to guide the conversation: 

a. Do we agree on who is or isn't a hero? 

b. When we disagree about whether someone is a hero, what are we considering? Why do we disagree? 

c. What makes the heroes, heroes? 

d. And what makes the villains, villains? 

7. After the discussion, make any adjustments or revisions to the class list of heroic and un-heroic traits.

8. Ask students to return to their small groups and arrange the heroes whose names they gathered at the beginning of the session into categories other than historical, contemporary, and fictional.

9. Come back together as a class, and ask each group to explain what categories they created and who they listed in each. 

a. Ideally, as this discussion progresses, students may begin to speculate that heroes and heroism are not fixed terms.

10. After reading the story of Sadako, or seeing the production of A Thousand Cranes, have students discuss how Sadako can be viewed as a hero.

a. What heroic traits that were listed previously does Sadako possess? 

b. Who are other heroes mentioned earlier that share similar traits and qualities with Sadako?

Creative Ideas for Beauty and the Beast Activities
Beauty and the Beast: Exercises & Activities

Discussion: Before the Play 

Talk about theatre and what a play is.  What other plays have you seen?  Describe them to the class.  Why do you think certain parts of those plays are memorable to you?  What do you expect this play will be like?  What is the difference between seeing a play on television or movies and seeing actors perform it live?

Discuss you students the proper etiquette for audience members during a live performance.  Impress upon them that the actors they see are live people who care very much how you respond to the work they are doing.  Young audience members should learn the meaning of applause and laughter and that they should be polite to the people who are performing for them.

Read the original story and the synopsis of the play that appear in this Teachers Guide.  How are the stories alike?  How are they different?  Talk about the practical consideration of putting on a play and why the actors might need to adjust the story in order to present it on stage.

The play takes place in France where they used to tell fairy tales. Look up France on the Internet and in books, locate it on the globe.  Talk about what we know about the country, history, music and the people.  What kinds of clothes do they wear and what did the wear in years past?  Remember your answers when you see the actors in their costumes.  Or if you are performing in the play use the pictures you find to help create your costume.

During the play, children will be asked to participate by helping make sounds, wind, music, wolves, etc..  Describe a storm, scary forest, angry mob or ferocias wolves and talk about how they sound and move.  Point out the actual events or other plays or movies you may have seen.  How does your play relate to events in "real life” or other "fantasies”?

Talk about clothes and what they say about your personality.  Name some of your favorite movie stars or musicians and how the clothes they wear shape the image we have of them.  What makes some clothes come into fashion why others go out of style.  Describe your favorite shoes, hat and coat.  What makes you like them?  How do you feel when you wear them?

Discussion: After the Play

Discuss in more detail the play you have just seen.  Who is your favorite character and why?  Talk about how the actors created the illusion of many things such as the castle, the forest, the marketplace and the invisible painting that Marcel sets up.  Talk about how you were asked to sue you imagination as opposed to movies and cartoons that show you a picture of everything.

Talk about some of the characters you saw in the play such as the Villagers and Household Servants.  What did they do with their voices and bodies to convey their character to you?  Would you like to try your hand at acting?  Write down the names of characters such as Beast and Wolves.  Come up with crazy names as Huey Kazooie and show the class how Huey would act and talk.  Choose other characters, perform them and ask your classmates to guess who you are.

Charles Perrault  wrote many play besides Beauty and the Beast.  What titles are you familiar with?  Can you recount these stories?  Which do you like best and why?

What do you think a magical Prince-turned-Beast would actually look like?  Draw a picture of the Beast showing how he thought he looked once like a Prince.  Draw a picture of the Prince before he turned into a Beast.

What is the meaning of this famous story?  When people say "his bark is worst than his bite” what do you think they mean?  The Prince embarrassed when he realized he had been tricked and turned into the Beast.   What might he have done to prevent this embarrassment?

Fun Playscript for Kids to Perform!  Beauty and the Beast! Great Parts for Lots of Kids!  Beauty and the Beast!
Monkton Central School, Bristol, VT

Classroom Activities

CLASS STORY:  Read a version of the story as a class.  View an animated version and compare the two.  After seeing the show, compare all three genres.

BEING A HERO:  Ask the class what it means to be a hero.  Brainstorm a list of qualities that make a person seem like a hero.  In groups, pick the most important qualities and identify heroes today.  Share as a class. Discuss whether or not there is a hero in Beauty and the Beast.

JOURNAL ACTIVITY:  Have students imagine that they are in Beauty’s shoes.  In order to save their fathers, the students have to live with a terrifying beast. What would it feel like? Would the students have the courage to do it?

"YOU ARE A HERO!”:  Ask students to write about a time in their lives when they had to overcome something or helped someone.

FROM THE OUTSIDE IN:  Have students imagine that they could only show people their worst qualities.  No one would ever know the good qualities they had deep down inside.  What would that look like?  What would it feel like?  Have students draw what that person would look like, and write a story to go along with it.

FRACTURED AND FUNNY:  Have students write a fractured version of Beauty and the Beast. Explain that a fractured fairy tale is made to be humorous by changing the story in a surprising way; like changing a character or adding today’s language and events to the story.  Encourage the students to take creative risks.

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T:  The element of magic is common in fairytales.  In Beauty and the Beast, things aren’t always what they seem.  Explore optical illusions.  Look at examples as a class.  View optical illusions as a class using the internet and books.

AROUND THE WORLD ONCE UPON A TIME: Research different fairy tales from around the world and different times.

HANDING INFORMATION DOWN GENERATION TO GENERATION: Gather students on the rug and have them sit in a circle.  Explain that fairytales were handed down through word of mouth.  Pretend that each student sitting in that circle is another generation.  Play a game of "telephone” (one person thinks of a sentence and whispers it in the person sitting next to him/her’s ear, and that person passes, and so on) to demonstrate how stories change.

RE-WRITE HISTORY:  Ask students to rewrite the ending of Beauty and the Beast.  What would the play version of this look like?  After rewriting the way the story turns out, have students design a scene from their versions (the castle, forest, etc&ldots;) using only their imaginations to guide them.

FINISH THE PICTURE:  Have students design what the costumes would look like.  Remind them that the story can take place anywhere and in any time period.

ArtReach's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is Creative Fun for Students
Classroom Discussions and Activities from Teachers Guide


1. Read the outline of the play and the glossary that appears in this Teacher's Guide. Advanced students should read the original story by Washington Irving. When he wrote this story it was one in a whole book of stories called The Sketch Book. Rip Van Winkle is another famous story in the book. Can you tell the story of Rip Van Winkle?

2. Washington Irving is called "the father of American literature". Why do you think they called him that? Washington Irving was born when George Washington was president and was named in honor of him. How long ago was that? Does that seem like a long time to you? Actually, it is a very short time for a nation to exist. American is still a young country. Before The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was written there had been few American writers who were considered to be very good, so Americans were very proud of him.

3. How do you know if a writer has written something good? Consider some of he rich phrases in Irving's writing:  

"Katrina was&ldots; plump as a partridge, ripe and melting and rosycheeked as one of her father's peaches." 

 "Ichabod's head was small, flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes and long snipe nose."

Can you see how Irving helps us to imagine his story vividly because of his talent for writing?

4. What do you like to do in autumn? Carve a jack-o-lantern, drink apple cider, gather pretty leaves? Talk about autumn and how that season affects us. Do you know any scary stories? Sit in a circle as if around a fired and tell each other ghost stories that you know.

Washington Irving: The Father of American Literature
Large Cast Play for Schools and Theatres Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Gaffney Little Theatre, SC - DCP Theatre, Telford, PA


1. Talk about the play you have seen. Was it how you imagined the story when you read it? What things are different and which are the same? Have you seen the Walt Disney movie version? How were the two versions different? Why did we laugh at Ichabod? Did you want Katrina to marry Brom bones or Ichabod?

2. Consider all the food that is described in the play. What kind of food do you like to eat in autumn - pumpkin pie, caramel apples, apple strudel? Bring your favorite recipes (ask you parents to help you) and share with the class. If you give each other copies you will soon a book full of autumn treats!

3. The people of Sleepy Hollow, Dutch settlers who came from Holland to live in America, are much like the pilgrims we think of at Thanksgiving. Many people came to American 200-300 years ago. They came here to pursue a better way of life than they had in Europe. Are you descended from early American settlers? Talk about other immigrants to the United States and discuss the issue of immigration in American history.

4. Did you laugh because Ichabod was scared of the Headless Horseman? Why was that funny?

5. Have you ever been scared of something that turned out to be harmless/ have you seen movie that scare you? Share your experiences with your classmates.

6. What things (movies, books, darkness etc.) scare you? Tell us what you do when you're scared. Can you help each other figure out how not to be afraid of things that really aren't there.

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