Thursday, July 9, 2009

My little froggies!

I really enjoy my job. As a development professional - I have the opportunity to raise funds and ensure success of an organization that is bringing the arts to kids who would not have the opportunity to participate otherwise. That's pretty cool.

After college and before I landed in development, first with Opera Grand Rapids and now here at GAAH, I did a hodge podge of things for a living. I was retail extraordinaire for awhile (Bath & Body Works, The Gap, Barnes & Noble), I worked School Age Child Care, and was a summer camp counselor.

The transition to a desk job has been a challenge. I like to be up on my feet doing things. Although I'd never want to be a teacher full time, I have missed the interaction with kids that I have had in past jobs. This summer however, I've had the opportunity to teach here at GAAH - both art and theatre lessons at least once a week.

Now, imagine being faced with weekly theatre lessons with a group of 3-6 year old ESL students - some of whom don't speak English at all. Hm... challenging would be an understatement! I've really struggled the first couple of weeks - but am finally figuring it all out.

I picked up a great book from Scholastic of short plays for emergent readers. Now, not even half of my kids can read yet - but there are a handful of confident readers - so I utilized those kids and found other "roles" for the rest of the students.

Today our class was about frogs. We talked about the sounds frogs make and the way they move - and tried them ourselves! Then, we made frog stick puppets to use in our play. My assistant and I read the play, and students used their frog puppets to "hop" along when the story called for them to do so.

I then took my readers, and worked on the lines of the play with them. No acting, just reading in loud, clear voices. Meanwhile, my assistant worked with the rest of the group to create their "set." Using a large piece of paper they created a backdrop - they drew a pond, sun, lilypads, etc.

Then it was time to put everything together! I had some students hold up our backdrop, my readers sit in front with their scripts, and the rest of the kids sit and stand in front of the drop with their frog puppets. The readers read, and the froggies hopped their puppets to the story.

We performed in front of the staff and the older kids class - and it was fabulous! The students were so focused and proud of themselves. They got a great round of applause at the end and took their bows.

I am thrilled - just thrilled with the way this lesson went. I really had to think outside the box to figure out how to make theatre activities approachable and teachable for this age group - and it so paid off. Now that I "get it" - I can't wait to plan the rest of the summer's lessons!

I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to work in the arts in so many ways!


AVinNYC said...

Congrats- looks like they had a GREAT time!!

Joanne said...

They sure did! :)