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Student discussions, exercises, games before and after the play
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This page (Page #8) 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: Sleepy Hollow, Christmas Peter Pan, Kid Frankenstein, Little Mermaid, Jack and the Beanstalk, A Thousand Cranes, Amelia EarhartDon’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contains tons of creative new ideas for your teaching lessons!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Aurora Children's Theatre Study Guide

Ichabod's Life Lessons: Sleepy Hollow's flawed characters and what they can teach us.  The characters in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow all contribute to the unfortunate end. From each of these characters we can learn how selfish acts, and working against each other, rather than with one another can lead to unfortunate incidents.

Sleepy Boy: The Sleepy Boy from the beginning of our tale immediately doesn't like Ichabod Crane because Mr. Crane is different than the Sleepy boy. This kind of thinking is closed minded and unfair to the person being judged. Thinking to yourself that you do not like someone just because they are different could be holding you back from meeting someone you would actually like and become friends with.

The Lessons of Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow for Family Audiences Sleepy Hollow for Halloween
Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, TN

Brom Bones: Brom is a character who revels in making others feel small to make himself feel better. He finds the weakness that Ichabod has, and continually uses this against him. This tactic eventually works in Brom's favor, but at the cost of hurting someone. On top of hurting Ichabod, the satisfaction Brom obtains will never last. He is ahead of the game for only a short while, as Katrina already has a new beau in mind.

Ichabod Crane: Ichabod is a man distracted by fear and greed. Ichabod allows himself to get distracted by his greed, which leads to his fighting with Brom, and eventually his own downfall. Ichabod letting his fears get the best of him is how Brom eventually "wins" the game he and Ichabod are playing.

Katrina Van Tassel:  Katrina uses both Brom and Ichabod to get what she wants. This is another catalyst to Ichabod's downfall. Establishing relationships with others will eventually render reward, sometimes in the form favors, but what is important is the bond you establish with the other person.

A Christmas Peter Pan Classroom Ideas
Lesson Ideas – A Christmas Peter Pan

The classic tale of Peter Pan explores the world of fantasy and imagination. The popular story, also captured on film and written by James Matthew Barrie in 1904, has captivated audiences for decades. Take your students on a journey of exploration with Peter Pan and the gang through the world of Neverland. Adapt a lesson plan for K-12 students from math to physical education with Peter Pan classroom activities.

Walk the Plank Vocabulary

The menace of the story of Peter Pan is the pirate, Captain Hook. Gather your students and invite them to test their vocabulary knowledge aboard Hook's plank. You can create a plank out of cardboard or wood or alternatively use tape or other items to identify the tip of the plank. Using words from the book like "engrossed," "spinster" and "subtle," ask the students either how to spell or define terms. Every mistake means one step closer to the edge of the plank. After hitting the edge students are eliminated from the game until there is one player left.

Neverland Math

Create mystical math questions for your students to solve using the Peter Pan theme. For younger grades stick to simpler equations using addition and subtraction. For example, if Peter Pan has three wishes and he uses one, how many does he have left? For higher level students you can create tougher questions using multiplication, division and word problems. For example, if Captain Hook has a treasure chest with 100 pieces of gold and Peter Pan takes half but drops half while getting away, how much gold does Peter bring back to Wendy?

Hook's Treasure Hunt

Take your students on a hunt around the world to locate Hook's treasure. All you need is a map or globe of the world and a few stickers to mark the spot. You can perform this activity one of two ways. One requires you to mark the map prior to the game and have the children identify the city and/or country of each mark. You may also present the clean map or globe to the class and name cities or countries that the students must locate and mark on the map.

Peter Pan

Keep your students active with physical activities based on Peter Pan. For younger students, play a variation of Duck, Duck, Goose entitled Peter, Peter, Pan. Seat the kids in a circle with one child, known as Captain Hook, walking around lightly tapping the heads of his peers exclaiming "Peter" until he lands on the one he wishes to race. He must exclaim "Pan" when tapping the head to initiate the race. The two students, Peter and Hook, must run around the circle. If Peter manages to tag Hook before he sits in Peter’s spot in the circle, the student playing Peter now plays Hook and gets to tap heads around the circle.

"Explore the world of fantasy and imagination."
Great Parts for Young Kids!  A Christmas Peter Pan! A Christmas Peter Pan!  Christmas Musical Plays for Children! Large Cast Musicals for Children!  A Christmas Peter Pan!
ArtReach's A Christmas Peter Pan, North Shore Children's Theatre, Salem, MA


SNOW FAIRIES:  Ask the class to pretend that they are snow fairies.  What is your name and what do you look like?  Where do you live and why?  Do you have a magic wand, or could your special powers be in your shoe or your hat?  What are your magical powers?  If the sun was shining brightly on you, what would you do?  Show how you would do it.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS:  Which are your favorite Christmas Carols and why?  Have everyone sing a Christmas Carol.  Now pretend you are a pirate singing the song.  What words would you change to make it sound more like a pirate?

CAPTAIN HOOK TREASURE MAP:  Choose Christmas tree ornaments to be treasures.  Hide them on the around the school or on the playground and let the children find them like an Easter egg hunt.  Have them draw a map from their desk to the place where they found the treasure.  Look at places on a map or a globe where pirates once sailed such as the Caribbean and Spain.  Find your home on the map and trace the way to the nearest port and then to the place of the pirates’ origin.

SANTA ELVES:  If you were an elf what would your name be and what kind of toy would you make?  What kind of materials would you use?  Paper, wood, plastic, glue?   What tools would you use?  Are these in your garage at home or would you need to invent special magical tool? How long do you think it would take you to make such a toy?  Who would you give your toy to?  Draw picture of the toy you would like to give your best friend or family member.

CROCODILE:  Have everyone draw a picture of a crocodile.  How wide is your crocodiles mouth, how big are his teeth?  What does he like to eat the best?  Discuss the difference between crocodiles and alligators.  Look up where they live and find them on a map.  Do you think a crocodile would rather live in a zoo or in the sea?

PIRATE’S SHIP:  Draw a picture of a pirate ships and identify the various parts of the ship:  main deck, rigging, mast, sails, port, starboard, bow, stern.  Pretend that you are a pirate and you are being attacked by another ship.  What kind of treasure do you have on board and what will you do to protect it?  Pretend the Captain is a villain like Captain Hook and stage a mutiny.

Classroom Activities for Kid Frankenstein
Talk, Write and Perform Kid Frankenstein

Mad Scientist:  The idea of the Mad Scientist is that the scientist loves his work so much he takes it too far.  Think of other professions, especially those you aspire to be.  Talk about what can go wrong when someone takes their ambitions a little too far.  Suggestions: Astronaut, Baker, Football Player, Librarian, School Bus Driver.

Create Your Own Silly Monster:  Think of all things you think are funny.  Tutus, chickens, top hats, tricycles, wigs, even things from your freezer or refrigerator.  After you have named these things, draw your own monster incorporating these objects as part of the monster.  For instance, your monster may have a beak like a chicken and wear a tutu and a top hat.  What magical powers does your silly monster have?

Create Your Own Laboratory:  Have each student bring in or draw a picture of something in their own home that could become a part of a magical laboratory where anything can happen.  Look for objects with electric cords, knobs, wheels, dials, buttons, etc.  Pretend the object has a magic power.   Demonstrate that power to the class.  Now have students put their magic objects together to make a laboratory.  Demonstrate your laboratory’s process and what is the outcome of the function?    Frankie chose to make a Frankenstein monster in his laboratory.  What would you like to make?

"What is your favorite monster?"
 Kid Frankenstein is fun play for Kids to Perform! Zany Science Experiments in Kid Frankenstein! Frankenstein play for kids to perform
"Crazy am I? We'll see if I'm crazy or not!" - Mad Scientist Frankie Stein in ArtReach's play 'Kid Frankenstein'!
Youth Summer Theatre Program, Grand Rapids, MN

Dress as Monsters:  What monsters are your favorites?  Have kids come to school dressed as their favorite monster.  This can be especially fun on the day of the performance of Kid Frankenstein – especially if it’s around Halloween!

Real Life Monsters:  Monsters are just a figment of our imaginations.  Monsters come from people looking at real creatures and assigning them super powers.   Think about real life animals and natural objects like gnarly trees and clouds in the sky.  Imagine that you see monsters in these objects that come to life.  What do they look like?  What powers do they have?

Frankenstein at the Movies!  Show classic movies such as Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein.  If you are short on time or wish to cut out certain scenes, just show excerpts.   Pop some popcorn!   Throw blankets on the floor and let kids sit on the floor.   Tell them if they get too scared to grab each other and scream their heads off!  That’s part of the fun.  And remind them that nothing in the movie is real.  Afterwards talk about scary movies and how to keep from getting too scared by them.

"Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
-- Albert Einstein

Creative Dramatics and More Fun Ideas for Jack and the Beanstalk!
Have Classroom Fun with this Famous Mountain Jack Tale

Appalachia: Has anyone visited the Smoky Mountains? Do they know of anyone who hiked the Appalachian Trail? Tell the class about your experiences. What did you like best about the area? Have everyone imagine a favorite mountain or valley spot and draw a picture. Draw children in the picture. How do they spend their days? Imagine yourself in the deep dark woods. Is it peaceful? Describe the things that live in the forest.

Cows: If you were going to dress up as a cow for Halloween, how would you look? What kind of costume pieces would you need to be a cow? If there's a cowbell around, ring it for the class and talk about its uses for farmers. Ask kids, do you like the sound? Do you think cows do?

Magic Beans, Crazy Creatures & Giants in the Sky!
Old Dan TuckerMusical Jack and the Beanstalk Country Style Musical Lots of Fun songs in this musical for kids!
Jack in the Beanstalk is one of ArtReach's most popular musicals!

Folksongs: Folk music is fun because it's music that anyone can join in with! And it's interesting because every single culture has their own folk music! There's English folk music, Scottish folk music, Welsh folk music, Irish folk music, American folk music, South American folk music, Polish folk music, Hungarian folk music, Russian folk music, Australian Aboriginal folk music and on and on. Can you name a song that you have learned in your class that is a folk song? Find out what country or region it is from. Locate it on the map and look up other songs from that area. You may be surprised how many you know! Ask the music teacher to devote a session to old folk songs and new songs that sound like folk songs.

Crazy Creatures: Jack was afraid of purple-eyed monsters, horny-toed dragons and warty-faced giants. What kind of scary beings do you imagine? Make a mask out of construction paper or foam. Show the class how your scary creature walks and talks. What does he eat? Are they afraid of him too?

For a fun creative dramatics exercise, have each student choose a characteristic from the first column and a type of creature in the second. Combine the two, become the crazy creature and sing Polly Wolly Doodle as your creature would.

IItchy-eared           Elephant

Lizard-tongued    Spider

Baggy-kneed        Astronaut

Sticky-fingered     Orangutan

Three-horned        Kitty cat

Think of ways to defeat the monster and stage the battle for the class. Do you feel like a hero? Divide the class into two sides and have a battle of imaginary beasts. 

Magic Beans: Do you believe in magic beans, like Jack did? Plant some sunflower seeds in a cup and grow it on a windowsill in the classroom. Talk about the very large plant that comes from a tiny seed. Can you see why that growth would cause people to be inspired by its "magic"? Consider the trees you can see from your school. They grow much slower than Jack's beanstalk but they certainly grow magically tall, don't they?

Dreams of Magic: Magic Polly tells Jack the magic beans will do all his chores and grow candy canes. If you had magic beans what powers would you like them to have?

Castle in the Sky: What kind of castle do the giants live in? Is it beautiful and ornate? Or run down and falling apart? What kind of furniture do you think you would find there? Jack hid in a potato bin. What kind of hiding places would you look for in a castle in the sky? Roll out some paper on the floor and draw a picture of your classes' castle.

“Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So get on your way!”
-- Dr. Seuss

The Little Mermaid is Full of Fun Activities
Have an Underwater Sea Party!

Invitations:  The wording of your under the sea birthday party invitations can say "Calling all Jellyfish, Sharks, Squid and Seals, too...There's going to be an adventure, and we'd love to share it with you! You're O-Fish-ally invited to come under the sea. It's (your child's name) Under the Sea Birthday Party!". Then include day, time, address. 

Here is a slightly different idea for your under the sea party invitations. Make your under the sea birthday party invitations as "messages-in-bottles." Simply fill clear plastic bottles with sand, mini sea shells, glitter, etc. Write your invitations on parchment paper, then roll them into scrolls, and insert invitations into bottles.

"Let them create a mural of sea life."
Great roles for boys in THE LITTLE MERMAID Underwater Creatures in The Little Mermaid
George J. Mitchell School, Egg Harbor NJ

Decorations: Decorate your under the sea birthday party room with green and blue balloons. Hang green "seaweed" streamers from the ceiling, chairs, or from the top of a windowsill. Cut out starfish, seahorses, and other sea animals from construction paper. Tape cutouts to some of the streamers. Cover the lights in the room with blue cellophane paper, which will give the party  "under water" feeling. Spread out any stuffed sea animals that you might have around the room. Have Mylar fish and dolphin balloons free-floating in the area, and have lots of blue latex balloons on the floor to create "ocean atmosphere."  Hang a fish net in the corner of the under the sea birthday party room.  Put a blue or turquoise tablecloth on your under the sea party table, and then spread multi-colored confetti around it. Put plastic fish in a clear bowl for table centerpiece. Hang a personalized theme "Happy Birthday!" banner in the area.

Guest Arrival and Introductory Activities:  

Seascape Gel Bags: Here are some directions for your under the sea birthday party guests to follow for this activity. Cut small fish from foam paper. Fill a Ziploc bag with blue hair gel so when the bag is closed it's about 1/4" thick. Place the fish shapes, colored beads, and some glitter in the bag. Squeeze out excess air from the bag before sealing it Place the bag, sealed end first, inside another bag. Seal the second bag and cover the zipped end with clear tape. Have children make the fish move by running their hands over the surface of the bag.

Sea Life Mural: Tape a wide sheet of butcher paper on the wall at kids' eye level. Spread posters and pictures of tropical fish, dolphins, sharks, and other sea animals for ideas. Provide the kids with paints and markers, and let them create a mural of sea life.

Party Favors: Since kids are fascinated with sea life, any theme related items as keepsakes will do the trick! For your under the sea party favors, you can have such items as beach balls, fish squirts, straws, sticker sheets, toy dolphins, and starfishes.

Under the Sea Birthday Party Games: 

Pin-the-Tail on the Whale: This classic game is easy to design and set up. Just draw a large whale on paper, leaving out the tail. Then cut out "whale tails" for all your guests. Put children's initials and a double-sided tape on each tail. At game time, blindfold the kids one by one, spin them around, and get them to pin their tail shapes where they belong.

Shark Chase: Get the kids to spread out on one side of the party area - they are fish. Scatter five or more hula hoops around the opposite side of the area (the hoops are the fish's "homes").  Select one child to be a shark, and have that player stand between the "fish" and their "homes." When the "shark" calls Shark!, he or she runs after the "fish" and tags as many as possible. The fish must reach home - step inside the hula hoop - to be safe from the shark.  Any player who is tagged becomes a shark for the next round, and tags remaining fish. For each round, take away one hula hoop until only one hoop is left. The game continues until all the fish are caught.

Play "Shark Chase" and "Octopus Alert" with your students!
The Little Mermaid! Fun Sailor Roles for Kids!
Lindsey Elementary, Chesterland OH - Old Rochester Regional Jr High VT

Beanbag Fish Toss: Place candies or small prizes in three or four pails. Place the pails against the walls. Have a couple of beanbags for children to throw. (It's ideal that you make a beanbag that looks like fish, but it's not crucial!) Have the kids take turns throwing beanbags into a pail. Allow children to choose a prize from whatever bucket the beanbag lands in. Be sure every under the sea birthday party guest receives a prize.

Octopus Alert: Here is a great outdoor game for under the sea birthday party, and it will require water balloons. Choose one person to be an octopus. Arrange everyone else in a big circle around the octopus. Have the kids in the circle toss a water balloon back and forth, trying to keep it away from the octopus. If the octopus pops the water balloon by batting it out of the circle, the person who threw it is out. Last child left in the circle wins.

Musical Sea Animal: Have your party guests sit in a circle. Play lively music in the background, and let the kids pass around a sea animal toy. Whenever the music stops the person holding the toy - goes out of the game, and receives a prize (e.g., favor bag). Play until everyone has won a prize.

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.”
Hans Christian Andersen

Guide to the Obon Festival in Japan
Background Info for "A Thousand Cranes" School Play

The Obon festival (also known as Bon festival) is an annual Japanese holiday which commemorates and remembers deceased ancestors. It is believed that their spirits return at this time to visit their relatives.

Chochin (paper) lanterns are hung to guide the spirits and Obon dances (bon odori) are performed. Families have reunions and visit the graves of their relatives and make food offerings at altars and temples.

"The Buddhist festival has been celebrated for more than 500 years."
Oban Festival Info for A Thousand Cranes
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Bland County High School, Rocky Gap VA

It is observed from the 13th to the 15th day of the 7th month. However, according to the solar calendar the 7th month is July but according to the lunar calendar, the 7th month is August. Obon is therefore celebrated at different times in different regions depending on which calendar is observed.

The official 2019 dates are August 13-15 though it will be celebrated between July 13-15 in some places. The Obon week in mid-August is one of Japan's three major holiday seasons making it one of the busiest times of the year for traveling. Many Japanese people will leave their cities around August 10 and come back on August 17-18.

Obon traditions and celebrations

On the first day of Obon, people take the chochin lanterns to the graves of their families. They call their ancestors' spirits back home in a ritual called mukae-bon. In some regions, huge fires are lit at the entrances of houses to guide the spirits to enter.

At the end of the Obon festival, families help their ancestors' spirits return back to the grave by guiding them with their chochin lanterns. The ritual is called okuri-bon. Again, the ritual varies slightly between different regions of Japan.

In recent years, floating lanterns (toro nagashi) have gained in popularity. The beautiful lanterns float down a river that runs to the sea to symbolically send their ancestors' spirits into the sky.

The style of the traditional Bon Odori dance varies from region to region but it is normally based around the rhythms of Japanese taiko drums. Dancers perform on a yagura stage and participants wear light cotton kimonos. Anyone can join in the dances which are held in parks, temples, and other public places around Japan.

"Joy is the origin of the Obon dance."
Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes Sadako's True Story - A Thousand Cranes
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Bland County High School, Rocky Gap VA

Obon festivals in Japan

There are a number of special Obon festivals which tourists can visit using their JR Pass. The Daimonji Festival in Kyoto is probably the most famous. A series of spectacular, 200m-long, character-shaped bonfires are built on mountainsides which are visible throughout the city. Each one is then individually set on fire.

For those who love to dance, the Gujo Odori Festival In Gujo, (Gifu prefecture) is a week-long party where dancers perform each night from 8 pm until 5 in the morning. Over 1.3 million tourists go there each year.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you're looking for a small festival which has preserved ancient traditions, there is the Hokkai Bon Odori. It is also the birthplace of one of the most famous Japanese traditional songs.

The origins of Obon

The Buddhist festival has been celebrated for more than 500 years. It originates from the story of Maha Maudgalyayana (Mokuren). He was a disciple of Buddha who used his powers to see the spirit of his deceased mother. He discovered she had fallen into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering.

Buddha advised Mokuren to make offerings to Buddhist monks. On the 15th day of the 7th month, he followed Buddha's advice and his mother was released from her suffering. Mokuren danced with joy which is the origin of the Obon dance.

The Japan Rail Pass

Let's Talk about Amelia Earhart!
Discussions for ArtReach's Amelia Earhart Play for Young Audiences
From Study Guide: The Little Company, Morehead State University, 106 Baird Music Hall, Morehead, KY 40351

What Happened?  Many intriguing and often entertaining conspiracy theories and speculations were made about Amelia Earhart's famous disappearance. Not only were the factors regarding the actual cause of the failed flight in question, but also the reason why her remains were never found. People have guessed at everything from her creating the whole expedition as a ruse to escape her marriage to Putnam, to the idea that she and Noonan crashed on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean and enormous coconut crabs hid her remains in their dwell-ings. For this activity, write your own conclusion about what really happened when she disappeared with her navigator Fred Noonan on their iconic voyage around the world.

"People have guessed: What happened, Amelia?"
Artreach's Amelia Earhart Theatre is great for learning history! Famous Flyer Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart - Barter Theatre, Abington VA

Where Is Amelia?  Amelia Earhart's life could be described as one long and tireless journey. For this activity, design a destination for Amelia Earhart. Feel free to interpret this as creatively as you wish; is she in Ireland amongst the cows, or perhaps on a lonely island with the coconut crabs? Keep in mind the adventures Earhart encountered in her lifetime as well as the important people she met along the way.

Sensationalism: In the play, the author uses the Great Depression and the suffering of the American people to convey a theme of desperation. She then displays how the media honed in on Amelia's activities to distract citizens from the issues the country was facing. In today's society we have similar scenarios of media distractions. Name as many instances as you can in which a great tragedy or period of suffering has been dulled by the media with a flush of superficial news-worthy events in pop culture. As a few examples, marriages between popular celebrities, issues within foreign countries, political events, controversies, and anything in the media that catches the attention of the public audience.

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