Folklore and fables go from page to stage
First and second graders at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) transformed classic folklore and fables from the printed page to a stage performance for family, friends, and the school community as the culminating project for their third quarter unit.
The students selected folktales that reflected themes of fairness and friendship. The students created the fables as part of their writer's workshop lessons. Teachers Heidi Burns and Katrina Aristy read many folktales and fables with students to give them a sense of the story structure typical of that genre. Afterwards, each student worked on creating a main character, then chose a moral and developed a story. As part of the story writing, each student researched information about the animal he or she selected as his or her title character.
The students wanted to bring their stories to life as a stage performance. To create visuals for their show, the students worked with art teacher Emily Blachly to make animal masks, costumes, and stage scenery. Blachly added another element to the project by showing the students how they could incorporate "found" or recycled materials into their designs.
On the day of the performance, family, friends, and KDES students, teachers, and staff gathered in the KDES auditorium on February 8. The stage design was a scene that could be adapted to look like the jungle or the ocean. The show began with a rendition of the classic fairy tale, "The Three Little Pigs." The next part of the show featured video clips of the students presenting their animal research, followed by live performances of the fables. The main fable characters included: an elephant, a cheetah, a tiger, a dolphin, a seal, and a toucan. The morals included messages of being understanding, not mocking people, standing up to bullies, being a true friend, and asking for help.
Following the show, the student cast invited their family members to a special reception. At the reception held in the open piazza area, family members viewed displays of the children's story books, animal research projects, and performance masks.