FREE RESOURCES: Classroom Activities [ Page 2 ]
Student discussions, exercises, games before and after the play
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This page (Page #2) has creative activities for use in the classroom.  Kids love to learn more about the play’s origin and subject.  Check out these articles and activities related to ArtReach’s popular titles: Pinocchio, Reluctant Dragon, Kid Frankenstein, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker Prince, A Thousand Cranes, Mulan, Jungle BookDon’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contains tons of creative new ideas for your teaching lessons!

General Preparation:

Read the synopsis of the play as it appears in this Teachers Guide. What do you think is the "main theme" of the story?  Consider other stories that the students are familiar with such as Cinderella, Snow White and the Wizard of Oz.  What aspects of the these stories are the same?  Which are different?

"Pinocchio is loved throughout the world."
Kids play puppets in ArtReach's Pinocchio Lorenzo puppet in play Pinocchio
Siena Heights University performs ArtReach's Pinocchio.

Theatre Siena's Creative Stages program is offering the children's production of "Pinocchio," Saturday and Sunday, on the Haller Stage of the Spencer Performing Arts Center on the Siena Heights University campus. The show features young actors from across Lenawee County involved in the Creative Stages Program. "Pinocchio" is being directed by Joni Warner, SHU associate professor of theater. Siena Heights student, J.J. Hoss giving direction to the young performers Tuesday during dress rehearsal for "Pinocchio" by Creative Stages at Siena Heights University. Drew Honeywell stars as Lorenzo in "Pinocchio".

What mistakes do you think Pinocchio made in the story?  When is he selfish?  When is he kind and brave?  What are his consequences and rewards for his actions?

Can students think of times when they've  felt or acted like Pinocchio?

Most children today are familiar with the Disney film version of the story.  The original story by Collodi is longer and includes many scenes that are not in the movie.  Can the students identify differences and similarities?  Why do you think Disney made these changes?

In the original story the cricket is called simply Talking Cricket.  The Disney version gave him a name.  Do know this name?  What is the Talking Cricket called in the ArtReach Plays version?  Why do you think he is named that?

Have the students make a hand puppet from a sock.  What kind of expressions and characters can they portray?

Have students find or bring objects to class that they wouldn't ordinarily think of as a puppet - a paper bag, a sock, a scarf,  a mitten.  Can the students make their object come to life?

The story of Pinocchio was first published in Italy.  Although it is read widely there are some aspects of it that remain Italian.  Can you name what those things are?  What are the thing Italy is best known for?  Paintings, food, music?  Have the students discuss the distinct nature of these things and explore how Italian culture has developed them.

Why do you think the story of Pinocchio is loved throughout the world?  Can you name any other stories that have gained recognition with children everywhere?

Every country in the world has fairy tales.  The Brothers Grimm collected these stories in Germany and set them to paper so that all could read and not forge them.  Other fairy tales are stories that writers have made up.   What is the difference between Grimms' fairy tales and Pinocchio?

Discuss common elements one might find in a fairy tale and pinpoint these elements in Pinocchio:

It is set in a magical, long ago world.

There is an element of magic or make believe.

Fairies or talking animals may be present.

There are good and evil characters.

There is a problem to be solved.

There is a happy ending.

"Creative Play: Painting the Music Game"
Pinocchio wakes up a boy The Blue Fairy in school play Pinocchio Pinocchio play for kids to perform
Siena Heights University performs ArtReach's Pinocchio.

Madisen Mattox as the Lucky Star is pictured Tuesday during dress rehearsal for "Pinocchio" by Creative Stages at Siena Heights University. Pinocchio, Gage Sterling, awakens to find he can move and talk on his own.  Gepetto, played by Seth Bagdon, right, embraces Pinocchio, played by Gage Sterling, when he wakes up and realizes Pinocchio can move and talk on his own Tuesday during dress rehearsal for 'Pinocchio'.

Painting the Music Game:  Everyone find a comfortable spot and sit. Imagine you have a big easel in front of you, with a new blank canvas on it.  In your hand is a palette with every color of paint you can think of.  Select any type of music to play for the exercise - we suggest using the various selections on the Pinocchio CD Soundtrack (the pre/post-show music).

(Start the music.) Listen to the music. Listen especially to the feelings in the music. How does this music make you feel? What do you think it is about? 

As you listen to the music, begin to paint what you hear. Some of you will paint pictures, but some of you will probably just paint colors and shapes. Whatever you hear is what you should paint.

Really listen! Listen to the changes in the music. Listen for characters and listen for events. Whatever you hear, that's what you paint. 

These paintings are really starting to look good!

(When the music comes to an end--or you make it come to one.) Let's all finish up our paintings now. They really look fantastic. Everyone take your painting over to a wall and hang it carefully. Then return to your seat.

(With Kindergarten and younger, it only takes about five minutes of music before the paintings are done. Older or more deliberate children can take much longer. Use your best judgment.)

The Reluctant Dragon - Classroom Activities and Discussions
Have fun with Dragons!

OLD FOLKS: The narrators for this play are called “Old Folks” because they are the ones who have lived in the village for many years and therefore know what has happened in the past. Their names reflect the fact that they are well-respected by the younger members of the community. Talk about how the older members of your family affect your life. Can you recount any stories that they have told to you or your family? Why is it important to take the time to listen to older people? What kind of older person do you aspire to be? What stories will you tell your children and grandchildren?

"Let's Talk About Local 'Old Folks and Dragons'"
Classroom Activities for The Reluctant Dragon The Reluctant Dragon play for schools
ArtReach's The Reluctant Dragon Play for Schools - Belmont Day School, Belmont MA

If you are playing an older person in your play, what things will you do with your body and voice to indicate age? Why do you think older people have these mannerisms? Discuss how the characterizations of age may be conveyed with respect. Consider why many people believe that an aged face with wrinkles may be very beautiful.

SAINT GEORGE THE DRAGON SLAYER: This story is very old and has been told to kids for centuries. There are many versions of the story but most agree on these plot points: 1. A town was terrorized by a dragon. 2. A young princess was offered to the dragon. 3. When George heard about this he rode into the village. 4. George slayed the dragon and rescued the princess.

After reading the script summary or seeing the play, name which parts of the classic story are left out. Read the book and discuss how Kenneth Grahame changed some of the story. Why do you think he did that? What is the point of Graham’s story? Does he promote friendship over fighting? Does he ask us to not judge a book by its cover (i.e. asking all dragons to be dangerous)? How does he do this?

Write your own fairy tale story using any kind of dragon and Saint George. Now add another character. You might add the traditional damsel in distress. Or consider adding a pirate, a teacher, an insurance salesman, a super hero. Have them get into an argument together. What do they argue about? How will they solve the problem?

"Write your own fairy tale story using any kind of dragon."
Teacher Ideas for The Reluctant Dragon Classroom fun for The Reluctant Dragon
ArtReach's The Reluctant Dragon - Eisenhower Middle School, Everett WA

SHEPHERDS: There are many old stories that have shepherds in them. Try to think of other stories you know that feature shepherds. What are they? Can you recount the story to theclass? Why do you think the shepherds are important to the plot? Pretend you are a shepherd on a hill and you see something happening far away. What is it? Write the story.

SHEEP: In the play the shepherds indicate that they are being followed by their sheep by making the braying sound. Pretend to be a farmer or livestock owner. What animals would you herd and what sound would you make to indicate your animals are all around you? How do they act when you talk to them and feed them? Show the class.

PRETEND LANGUAGES: In the play, Mortimer speaks for a while in Dragonese, which sounds like gibberish since it is a language the author made up. Pretend you are having a tea party using a made-up language. What is your pretend language called? Remember that you must be consistent. For instance if you use the made up word “lo-shee-woh” to ask for tea, you must use the same word each time you ask for tea. Have fun using pretend languages for other activities: washing the car, watching a football game, training your dog.

GRODY GOBSTERS: In the play, Grody Gobsters are bullies who bother Widget and Hairytoes by making fun of them. Discuss bullies and the kinds of things they say to you or your friends. Act out a scene of bullying on your playground. First play the bully and then play the one who is being bullied. How does it make you feel? What should you do when someone bullies you or your friends? Now play your scene again acting with respect and no bullying.

"Train your dragon in three easy steps!"
Fun with Dragons in ArtReach's The Reluctant Dragon Ideas for Teachers in The Reluctant Dragon for Schools
The Reluctant Dragon - Eisenhower Middle School, Everett WA - Belmont Day School, Belmont MA

MEDIEVAL VILLAGE: The Villagers in The Reluctant Dragon live in a Medieval village that might have existed 500 years ago. Imagine your own small village and draw a map. What does the Blacksmith do? Where is his shop in the village? Where is your house? Where does the King live? The town in the play is called Pleasant Valley. What if it had been called the Icy Outback, the Frightful Farm or the Desperate Desert? How would these titles affect your village? Think of your own name and draw a landscape picture of it.

GURU GUYS: In this play the Master Guru is a wise man who lives on a hill and tells people what they should do. Think of other kinds of Gurus who might be in scene. For instance, what if the Guru was a rock star, the president or your school principal? What questions would you ask him or her? Considering their background how would these individual Gurus respond to your questions? Create a scene and show the class.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: In this play the Guru gives Widget a handbook on how to train a dragon. Write your own handbook on how to train your dog, your cloud or your flower. Think of other things you might train. What is the most important thing the Guru tells Widget to do? Will your training include punishments? Will it include kindness and love? Which of these strategies do you think will be the most successful?

See More in ArtReach Teacher's Guide Available with School Play Package for The Reluctant Dragon.

Fun Websites for Kid Frankenstein
Classroom Resources for ArtReach's Kid Frankenstein

Finally!  Frankenstein is Kid-Friendly!
Kid Frankenstein - Play for Kids to Perform
Pretty River Academy, Collingwood ON  Frankie the Kid Mad Scientist has some zany ideas!

Building Your Own Frankenstein Monster:
How to build a Frankenstein monster...

BrainPop Lesson Ideas:

10 Activities to Celebrate National Frankenstein Day:

Friendly Frankenstein Crafts:

Halloween Castle Frankenstein:

History of Classic Monsters:

How Mary Shelley used ideas, events, places to invent her famous monster:

The Frankenstein Blog:

A List of Movies Based on Frankenstein:

Frankenstein's movie history: The good, bad and ugly:

Monsters: Why Halloween is a psychological ritual for kids and adults:

About Frankenstein the Movie 1931:

25 Monster Activities for Kids:

Classroom Fun: Music, Creative Writing and More
Learning with the Sleeping Beauty Teacher's Guide

DIFFERENT VERSIONS: Read both versions of the story and discuss which elements are similar and which are different. The castle, fairies, prince, spinning wheel and the kiss are in both stories. These stories were written many years ago.  Why do you think these are the parts of the stories that we remember the most?

FOLK TALES: The Brothers Grimm did not think that they were creating fairy tales. They were more interested in collecting stories that ordinary people told each other. Perrault used folk tales and added to them to create his own story. Discuss how the reasons for both directions. Consider the stories of another famous fairy tale writer, Hans Christian Andersen. Is he more like the Grimms or Perrault?

FAIRIES: Read the section on the history of fairies in this Teacher’s guide. How do fairies differ from living humans? Are they real or imaginary? Why do you think these beings play such a strong role in so many fairy tales? Do you like to pretend that you have a fairy as a friend. Describe your personal fairy and tell the class what magical powers your fairy has and why. Write a short story about how your fairy helped you in a trouble that you have at home, on the playground or at school.

Sleeping Beauty in the Classroom!
Sleeping Beauty Play for Kids Musical Play: Sleeping Beauty
Greenbier Valley Youth Theatre - GVTweens!

FAIRY TALES: Now that you have considered fairies, what do you think makes up a fairy tale? What must the fairy do in order to make the story end happily? If you were a fairy what things would you do to make things end happily in real life?

CREATIVE WRITING: Have the class write a fairy tale together. Remember to include the Princess, the Prince, the good fairies and the bad fairies. To help them create the story, provide them with settings such as the forest, a mountain, a castle, an island in the sea. Set it in the past or consider setting their story in the future which might include cities and outer space. Roll out paper on the floor and have them draw and paint different scenes from their own story.

SPINNING WHEELS: Read the section in this Teachers guide about spinning wheels. What do spinning wheels do and how do they work? How might a person prick their finger on such a device? Why did they use spinning wheels in the past but not today?

LIFE IN THE MIDDLE AGES: Talk about how the spinning wheel was one of the chores of a medieval family. Read the section in this Teacher’s Guide about Life in a Medieval Village. What other chores might they do that we do not do today? Would you like to live in those times or do you think it is better to live today? What might be better? What might be worse.

MUSIC: Listen to a recording of The Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Much of the music in the play is taken from this ballet. Listen to various movements and discuss how the tempo and composition enhances the story. Can you pick out which parts are identified with Morgana and which parts are identified with the fairies?

The Nutcracker Prince
Classroom Activities & Discussions from ArtReach's Teacher's Guide for The Nutcracker Prince.

LAND OF SWEETS:  Imagine you could enter Clara's gingerbread castle and pass through to a fantasy land.  Clara visits a land that is filled with candy.  What kind of place would you like to visit?  What would you like to see there?  Animals, cartoons, toys, stars and planets?  Draw a picture of your own special Land.

SUGAR PLUM FAIRY:  Many years ago, when Tchaikovsky wrote the Nutcracker, children were used to receiving sugarplums for Christmas.  What kind of treats do you look forward to?  Ask a grownup for a recipe book and ask them to help you make treats for your class.

BATTLE:  Divide the class up between mice and toy soldiers.  Huddle with your group like football players do and think up a strategy to win.  Play the Tchaikovsky music for the battle scene in the Nutcracker and have your own battle! 

DREAMS:  What's the craziest dream you ever had?  What's the scariest?  Draw a picture of your dream and show it to the class.  Have students give each other suggestions on what they would do if they found themselves in that dream situation.   

Enchanting Holiday Fun for Families!
Nutcracker Prince Play for kids Christmas Play - Classic Nutcracker
ArtReach's The Nutcracker Prince   

CHRISTMAS GIFTS:  Fritz thought Clara's gift, a nutcracker was ugly and strange.  What strange gift have you received?  Talk about how you feel when you get an unusual gift.  Do you hate it or try to love it as Clara did?  What are the advantages of accepting a gift you might not have expected?  Consider the gifts you will give this Christmas and tell your friends why you have chosen to give those items.

MUSIC: Choose an instrument from the orchestra in the list shown in this guide.  Imagine that the instrument is actually a character or an animal.  How does it sound, walk, sing?  Put a silly orchestra together with your friends.  Try singing Christmas carols together - stay in character as you sing for a kooky song!

DANCE:  The Nutcracker music was written for ballet.  Play some of the different parts of the music and ask kids to make up their own dances.  It can be any kind of dance they enjoy.  Have the kids discuss their favorite dances and then do them together.

"Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery."
Ben Okri

The Legend of Origami Cranes
PCPA (Pacific Conservatoy Theatre, CA) Study Guide for ArtReach's Play, A Thousand Cranes

A Thousand origami cranes is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Some stories believe you are granted eternal good luck, instead of just one wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. This makes them popular gifts for special friends and family. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise) and is said to live for a thousand years: That is why 1000 cranes are made, one for each year. In some stories it is believed that the 1000 cranes must be completed within one year and they must all be made by the person who is to make the wish at the end.

A thousand paper cranes are traditionally given as a wedding gift by the father, who is wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. They can also be given to a new baby for long life and good luck. Hanging them in one's home is thought to be a powerfully lucky and benevolent charm.

Wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity.
School Play for Children - A Thousand Cranes Seattle Peace Park Monument A Thousand Cranes (Folding Paper Cranes)

Several temples, including some in Tokyo and Hiroshima, have eternal flames for world peace. At these temples, school groups or individuals often donate origami cranes to add to the prayer for peace. The cranes are left exposed to the elements, slowly dissolving and becoming tattered as the wish is released.

Sets of origami paper are sold widely in Japan, with senbazuru sets including 1000 (or more, in case of mistakes) sheets of paper, string, and beads to place at the end of each string to stop the cranes from slipping off. Commonly the cranes are assembled as 25 strings of 40 cranes each.

The size of the origami paper does not matter when assembling a thousand paper cranes, but smaller sheets consequently yield smaller and lighter strings of cranes. The most popular size for senbazuru is 75 by 75 millimetres (3.0 in × 3.0 in). Some people cut their own squares of paper from anything available, such as magazines, newspapers, notebooks, and printer paper.

When learning as a production team at PCPA, we used plain copy paper and folded it into a square and cut off the small excess strip. This was an inexpensive way to learn and practice. When we were more confident in our skills, we used colored copy paper and eventually origami paper. Origami paper is usually of a solid color, though printed designs are available. Larger size origami paper, usually 6x6 inches, often has traditional Japanese or flower designs, reminiscent of kimono patterns.

See entire Study Guide here:

ArtReach's The Legend of Mulan Offers Martial Arts Opportunities
Learn Something New!


This article is for all the fans of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Jet Lee and Ninja turtles. How and where did the martial arts originate? This is perhaps one of the most debatable questions in the history that continues to puzzle the historians till date. If you ask ten different people, even from the same country, you will get ten different answers.

Martial art is the "art of combat" or "art of waging war". It comprises of a set of intricate movements that can be used for offensive or defensive purposes. Most historians believe that martial arts first originated in India. During 11th and 12th century AD, there was a popular form of martial arts, known as Kalaripayattu prevalent in the southern states of India. Bodhidharma, a famous Buddhist monk, learnt this art in India and when he went to China to propagate Buddhism, he introduced this art of fighting to the Chinese. He later incorporated certain changes in the Kalaripayattu way of fighting and gave birth to a new form of martial arts known as the Shaolin Kung Fu.

The need of protecting oneself made nearly every culture on earth develop its own form of self-defense and myriad forms of martial arts are in practice since time immemorial. 

Types of Martial Types of Martial Arts

The early Greek culture practiced a martial art known as Pankration, the art of complete strength. Pankration comprised of an eclectic mix of combative styles of wrestling, grappling and boxing techniques.

Sambo is a Russian martial art and combat sport. This combat style is based on ancient wrestling techniques and is now taught to the Russian military for hand to hand combat training.

 Martial arts are part of Mulan!
Martial arts are part of Mulan! Dragon Imoogi!
Great opportunities for students who study martial arts & acrobatics.

The ancient Romans also practiced martial arts and incorporated the use of various weapons and armors. They enjoyed the contests between man and beast in a fight to the death.

One of the most popular forms of martial arts, Karate, is said to have originated on the island of Okinawa in Japan, thousands of years ago. Since weapons were banned in Okinawa, the Okinawans developed strong hand-fighting techniques in order to defend themselves.

Another popular martial arts form Tae Kwon Do originated around 1300 years ago in Korea and is one of the oldest surviving martial arts. The origin of this combat form can be traced back to Buddhist monks who studied first in China and then brought their teachings to Korea.

Initially, China did not want to share the secrets of her martial arts strategies with other countries, but in the late 1960s, China began to slowly open their doors to the West, sharing her unique culture and traditions with the rest of the world. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and others brought introduced Kung Fu to mainstream America through Hollywood, unveiling the enigmatic techniques of martial arts before the common man.

The truth of the matter is most martial arts are similar. They all teach similar principles, just in different ways. It's like religion. There are so many different religions around the world, having different ways of worship and different deities, but all teach us only one thing, "God is one." Similarly, the one thing all martial arts have in common is that they teach us self-defense and increase our confidence level. e banned in Okinawa, the Okinawans developed strong hand-fighting techniques in order to defend themselves.

Another popular martial arts form Tae Kwon Do originated around 1300 years ago in Korea and is one of the oldest surviving martial arts. The origin of this combat form can be traced back to Buddhist monks who studied first in China and then brought their teachings to Korea.

Initially, China did not want to share the secrets of her martial arts strategies with other countries, but in the late 1960s, China began to slowly open their doors to the West, sharing her unique culture and traditions with the rest of the world. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and others brought introduced Kung Fu to mainstream America through Hollywood, unveiling the enigmatic techniques of martial arts before the common man.

The truth of the matter is most martial arts are similar. They all teach similar principles, just in different ways. It's like religion. There are so many different religions around the world, having different ways of worship and different deities, but all teach us only one thing, "God is one." Similarly, the one thing all martial arts have in common is that they teach us self-defense and increase our confidence level.

"You will never do anything in this world without courage.
It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor."
-- Aristotle

Puppets Help Enact the Lesson of the Day
How puppets are effective teaching aids for kids
By Christie Belfiore

A puppet is defined as a movable inanimate object or figure that is controlled by strings, rods, or by placing one's hand inside its body. There are various types from finger puppets to hand puppets, pop-up puppets to paddle puppets, and marionettes to shadow puppets. A very ancient art form believed to have originated 3,000 years ago, puppetry has been practiced among many cultures throughout the history of civilization. The expressiveness and dramatization of puppets have not only entertained people for thousands of years, but have also been used to educate.

"Puppets are Great for Innovative Teaching!"
Creative Staging for School Tours, Sword in the Stone Pinocchio Kaa Puppet - Avery Jones
Puppets in ArtReach Plays: Sword in the Stone, Pinocchio, The Jungle Book

Over the centuries, puppets have remained a powerful form of communication between people. From Asia to Europe, Africa to the Americas, puppetry is a familiar art form that has been predominantly used for telling stories, preaching religious beliefs, and discussing cultural practices, but mainly, sharing knowledge. Puppetry in the classroom can be used in the same way. Beginning as a progression from child-friendly cartoons, such as the Muppets, to an educational tool for sounding out and pronouncing words, their multi-purpose functionality allows children's minds to create, explore, and flourish. Puppets aid students to speak aloud in a group setting, allowing them to talk about serious and uncomfortable issues. Not only that, puppets are also a wonderful visual aid for children, retaining their attention and encouraging them to participate in class. Children are more willing to learn when they are having fun, and puppets are a gateway to opening up the mind and inviting knowledge in. Kids' imaginations can run wild, and without knowing it, they are developing essential skills needed for everyday life, just as they did thousands of years ago.

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