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Friday Funtastic and Friends: The Art of Story-Telling Through Film

by
Geraldine Martin


Contents of Curriculum Unit 95.02.08:

To Guide Entry


Introduction:

In this paper I would like to explore ways in which puppetry and art can be integrated into a unit for helping young children approach film and literature in a more critical manner. As a key component to my unit, I would like to emphasize the active participation of children in using puppetry and art to retell and analyze literature through film.

Focused activities will be implemented in the classroom, using puppetry and film as vehicles for the creation of opportunities to enhance reading and language art skills. In addition, supplementary activities will be suggested for a six to eight week after school program.

I am a self-taught ventriloquist and have developed characters to be used in numerous programs that have been presented at schools, churches and at birthday parties throughout several states. My family of puppets consists of ten relatively large stage size puppets. Most of my puppets were hand made in a studio and are approximately 20 to 36 inches in length. Many have striking characteristics with catching expressions, (e.g., large noses, bright colors, movable eyes and mouth parts, etc.) The focus of these presentations has generally been entertainment or special themes. However, I have found through my work with young children that puppets are beautiful classroom assistants which children perceive as nonthreatening and can relate to on a peer basis. While functioning in this manner, puppets gain and hold the attention of children who generally have very short attention spans.

In my classroom, several “closet characters” have developed bringing their own magical charms into the first grade curriculum through the art of story-telling. There’s Tuesday’s Cup of Sugar who arouses the interests of children in writing a classroom story and then developing their own published works. She delights in listening to these stories later in the week. Wednesday Delight brings a new poem to class each Wednesday. She is very clever in aiding the children in their class discussion of the poem. Eventually she helps them develop their own characters in reading and writing poetry. The results of Alphabet Thursdays story-telling are seen in the creative works of individual children in the classroom. Then there is Friday Funtastic who has developed into a character, but is waiting in the wings for her full potential and development. It is this character in mind that I intend to use for introducing films into my classroom curriculum.

Friday Funtastic is a bright yellow duck attached to a brown bag that pulls over her head. She wears a bright red hat with orange blotches and a droopy yellow flower. Her only additional attire is a green vest with a red pocket to match her red hat. Along with a rasp voice it sounds as if she is speaking with a mouth full of marbles. This may lower her self-esteem, but definitely fits a duck character.

Puppets provide a beautiful tool which children perceive as nonthreatening and can relate to on a peer basis. Puppets can break down barriers and help to achieve communication and self-identity goals in a relatively short span of time. It has been my experience that puppets often function as classroom assistants, supplementing my presentations by gaining and holding the attention of children who generally have very short attention spans, are preoccuped with painful home situations and are subject to a myriad of economic, social and environmental stresses.

Although the relationship to an inanimate object is somewhat different than the affective response to a puppet, film has that compelling capability of holding the attention of children and drawing out the feelings and emotions of the viewer. A significant degree of learning is imparted., I believe, through example and children emulating role models. It is my intent to provide literature through film that provides my students a new appreciation for the art of acting and a growing sense of self-worth. I believe that this is possible through children interacting with a puppet in discussing characters in film, experiencing culture and products from another country, as well as, writing about feelings in personal journals. In other words, my classroom environment will become the “laboratory” for the discovery of self through literature in film. My classroom is the child’s world where she/he experiences the positive social, emotional and intellectual stimulation necessary for growth and development.

I teach first grade in a self-contained classroom at L. W. Beecher School. My classroom contains children from a variety of ethnic backgrounds with varying abilities in the six to eight year old age range. Along with a need for improved vocabulary, many children exhibit low self-esteem and have difficulty conveying their thoughts and feelings. It is my intent to develop a curriculum unit that will not only enhance academic skills but strengthen social-emotional development as well. Although the unit is designed for my first grade classroom, it would be suitable for children in the second and third grade levels.

Objectives:
My overall objectives for my curriculum unit are:

(1) Gaining the children’s attention and provide an interactive experience.
____ a. as individuals
____ b. in small groups of two or four
____ c. in large groups
(2) Helping the children to stimulate their intellect and imagination in a classroom setting.
____ a. with creative puppetry
____ b. through illustrated art work
____ c. by a play production
(3) Helping the children to improve in their oral reading skills through reading and memorization of their stories.
____ a. written language
____ b. oral language
(4) Encouraging the development of self-assurance while participating in class activities.
____ a. as listeners
____ b. as narrators
____ c. as actors
(5) Connecting the classroom unit with the school curriculum.
____ a. integrating the unit with language arts
____ b. integrating the unit with science and social studies
____ c. integrating the unit with social development

Strategies:
Friday Funtasic is a duck who resides in a bag. One might ask: “What can a duck do who merely pops out of a bag and begins to bemoan the fact that her voice is a bit “raspy” from being cooped up in a bag collecting dust?” Wait one moment or perhaps 15 minutes as you discover that the dust in the ducws bag is not the ordinary dust found in your classroom closet. Have no fears; vacuums and dust pans are obsolete. For you see that dust in Friday Funtasic’s bag has become magical dust. As it settles in the classroom, one discovers that the children have been introduced to a wealth of information about a film that they are about to view.

Friday Funtastic will introduce her film friends to the class each Friday for a total of three or four weeks. Three films, “The Secret Garden,” “Heidi,” and “Dumbo” (i.e., an animated film in contrast to the other two films) have been chosen as Friday Funtastic’s friends. Besides the country and culture of the people in the film, she will give suggestions for critical analysis of the story. One example might be: “See if you can determine why the boy in the story was unable to care for himself.” Follow-up activities will include cooperative learning activities where children are paired and discuss themes from the film then report back to class. Journal writing will be included where the children report their critical feelings about the story.

The children will also retell the story in the film through their own puppet creations and illustrated works. For example, in the story film about Heidi, the children will make Heidi puppets. Each child will write their own version of the story then retell the story using their Heidi puppet.

Art activities will also be included in the lessons. One example would be illustrating the story in sequential drawings. This activity will tie into the art of filmmaking and how the film follows a sequential pattern. Small group activities will include making an animated film of the story. Each group will be given a suggestion for a background drawing. The children will draw characters that they will move across the background drawing as the story is retold and videotaped.

Wait one moment! Before the dust settles too quickly, Friday Funtastic will draw upon another magical element and introduce a product to be sampled from the country of the story in the film. One would not want to be remiss if they were traveling to Switzerland and did not taste Swiss chocolate or cheese. Would Friday Funtastic go so deeply into her bag and dare the children to try goat’s milk? Why not, the magical bag may never come our way again.

As a culminating activity, Friday Funtastic will suggest a theme for the children to write their own story. With the aid of the puppet and classroom teacher, one story will be chosen and developed into a play suitable for filming on stage in the school’s All Purpose Room. Included with Friday Funtastic’s writing assignment will be a brief introduction to the art and technology of film. For example, words such as camera, lens, video, scenes and soundtrack will be introduced and discussed.

Unlike the other related activities for each film, the culminating activity will be presented in the after school program. That particular program meets once a week for a period of one hour and a half. The class is more restrictive in size, generally consisting of 12 to 15 children. Considering the number of children and time allotment, the class is more conducive for creative dramatics and play rehearsals than the regular classroom setting. In other words, with fewer children more concentrated effort can be put into the development of the characters for a play.

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Stories VIA Film:

“The Secret Garden”

Mary Lennox is almost ten years old when she becomes an orphan. She becomes a disagreeable child because she feels unloved and unwanted. However, when sent to her uncle’s mansion in the English countryside, her life becomes completely changed. She finds many hidden secrets in the dark old house. At night she hears mysterious cries as she wonders through the dark corridors. Mary discovers a secret garden that has been locked up for years. With the help of a robin and a boy who befriends and talks to animals, Mary finds a way to unlock the secret garden. She also helps her invalid cousin to unlock his inner strength from within and regain his childhood through the secret garden.

(Day One—“Thursday”)

First graders find it difficult to differentiate between city, state and country. It becomes even more difficult for those who have had few experiences beyond their immediate community. Therefore, as an opening to my first lesson and an introduction to our film friend, “The Secret Garden,” Friday Funtastic will help the children locate our country and state on the globe. From here we will locate England and the surrounding countryside of Yorkshire. Distance and geographical changes become even more difficult for first graders to grasp. In order to give them a clearer picture, Friday Funtastic will present a book from his magical bag entitled England. Carol Greene presents a beautiful book of colored pictures and script that describes the Yorkshire moor. We will discuss and contrast the city with the flat grasslands of the moor that surrounded the mansion of Mary’s uncle.

Frances Hodgson Burnett has written a young readers edition of The Secret Garden that will be used for a guided reading lesson in my first lesson. The pictures are bright and beautiful and parallel very closely to the story in the film. They will be used extensively throughout the story as we stop and discuss parts of the story. For example, there is a beautiful picture of an English garden. As we look at the picture, we will draw attention to the paths that separate the different parts of the garden.

As we close our discussion we will discuss Mary’s plight as an orphan and how that affected her happiness. The children will be asked questions such as: What changed Mary’s attitude towards people (e.g. her uncle, the cousin, Dickson, the servants, etc.)? Did her surroundings change or did she change her surroundings?

During a class discussion contrasting the city and country, we will chart similarities and differences. Impressions will be illustrated by the children using magic markers and water color.

(Day 2 & 3—“Friday and Monday”)

The children have been prepared the day before (i.e., Thursday) for the story in the film. Now it is time for Friday Funtastic’s magic to come into play as the story comes to life and the children view the film, “The Secret Garden.” Friday Funtastic will ask the children to listen and watch closely so that they can discover how Mary and Master Collins unlock their doors to happiness. Does their happiness just happen? Does interaction with others play an important part in generating good feelings?

Following the film, the discussion will center on the relationship between Mary and Collins and how they changed amidst their surroundings. Friday Funtastic interjects and begins to complain about her surroundings. She may say something to the effect: “It’s dark in my surrounding community. The sun never shines unless I find a way to get out of my bag. Then my magic turns on and my happiness begins. However, very soon it’s time to get back in my musty old bag. That’s when I begin to feel unhappy again.” The class will discover ways in which Friday Funtastic will be able to overcome her feelings of despair and unhappiness. We will use Mary’s plight and discuss how she used her inner strength to overcome her situation and then reach out to Collins. For example, the children will be asked questions such as: Did Mary’s discovery of the garden help to change her attitudes and relationships with others? Does Collins’ selfish demands on Mary almost turn the relationship sour? Did Dickson play a part in helping Mary and Collins find their inner strength? The children will be guided in their discussion by helping Friday Funtastic to discover that she can take those good feelings that she feels when she is with the children back into her bag. In other words, those good feelings must be used to overcome some of the circumstances and surroundings that one cannot change. A short discussion will follow whereby the children will be given opportunity to discuss their own feelings with emphasis upon the positive and how they can generate strength from within.

The children will discuss similarities and differences between the story and the film. They will also work in pairs reporting back to their classmates about their feelings for or against the film. What parts did you like best about the film? What parts didn’t you like? Why or why not?

Journal writing will be incorporated with each film viewed in class. The children will be asked to choose a scene from the film and write about it. They will be encouraged to write about their own feelings while watching the scenes. One example will be while Mary was in her room she heard crying and again as she was exploring the halls and rooms of the old mansion. Although Mary heard the crying, she did not see nor did the viewer see who was making the sound. The children will write about these scenes telling about Mary’s expression as she listened to the crying and then again when she was caught by Mrs. Medlock in dark hallway. They will write how they felt about the crying sound. Was Mary fearful? Was she brave? Should she have gone snooping in the old mansion?

(Day 4 & 5—“Tuesday and Wednesday”)

The great formal English gardens of the 1600’s were very elaborate. They sometimes covered as much as thirty acres of ground. Often times they had terraces with covered walks of trees where hanging branches draped the tiled walks. Clipped hedges and formal flower beds were found in many of the gardens. We will refer to our picture in Burnett’s book illustrating the secret garden for our third lesson. Following our discussion, the children will plant seeds in their own garden. As the plants grow, they will keep a log depicting a graph that shows the growth of their plants.

“Heidi”

At eight years of age, Heidi is an orphan and sent to live with her cynical old grandfather. Heidi falls in love with the Swiss Alps affording lush meadows, clean fresh air, an abundance of wild flowers, not to mention Peter’s goats and their warm fresh milk. To the amazement of the village folk, Heidi’s tender heart and childlike faith win grandfather’s love and affection. All too soon that bond is broken when the aunt kidnaps Heidi and sells her to a wealthy family in a distant city. Clara, an invalid begins an amazing recovery by finding amusement with Heidi’s ungraceful mannerisms. Happiness fills everyone’s heart when Clara recovers completely by accepting Heidi’s encouragement and love for the Alps and its surroundings.

(Day 6—“Thursday”)

The book Switzerland by Gibbon and Smart will be used to introduce the setting for the story of Heidi. The country of Switzerland will be located on the map. The children will discover that Switzerland is about the size of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Road Island together. Gibbon and Smart have prepared a beautiful book of colored pictures and text related to the country of Switzerland. After the children have had an opportunity to view the pictures related to various traditional customs and the geography of Switzerland, (e.g., traditional costumes, colorful villages, goat farming, the Swiss Alps, etc.,) Friday Funtastic emerges from her bag and begins to sprinkle her magical dust. She tells the children that she and Mrs. Martin are going to tell the children a story entitled, “Heidi.” The very first thing that she wants the children to do is close their eyes and picture a little girl about their age climbing a steep hill that looks like the pictures they saw in the book about Switzerland. After they open their eyes, Friday Funtastic and I will tell the story together.

Following our story, Friday Funtastic will reach into her magical bag and produce a block of Swiss cheese. Cheese making is an interesting process, especially the part about the cheese forming curds and how this must be separated by bacteria. Friday Funtastic will use pictures to give a simple explanation for cheese making and then ask the children if they would like to guess how the holes developed in the Swiss cheese. The puppet tells the children that she will not reveal the secret of the holes until they go to their seats and write a tall tale about “Cheese and Its Holes.” While the tall tales are shared, the children will sample the swiss cheese and hot chocolate, another product that Friday Funtastic tells the class is popular in Switzerland.

Friday Funtastic reveals her secret about the holes in swiss cheese. A special culture that is grown in laboratories causes a gas bubble to form in the cheese. When the bubble disappears, the indent remains in the cheese. History reveals that the holes developed naturally or one could say by accident during the early days of cheese making. Today not only is the culture developed to form the holes, but the indents have become a trademark of swiss cheese.

(Day 7 & 8—“Friday and Monday”)

It is Friday and the children are prepared to watch the film “Heidi.” Suddenly Friday Funtastic emerges from her bag holding a carton of goat’s milk. She dares the children to sample a few sips while they prepare to watch their film friend. The puppet wonders what goat’s milk has to do with the story, “Heidi?” She elicits the children’s explanations and tells them that they are to think about the significance of the goats in the film. Friday Funtastic has not forgotten the goats after the children have viewed the film. After a brief discussion, I will intervene and guide the class in a discussion between the similarities and differences between the story of “Heidi” and “The Secret Garden.” Questions such as: How were the girl’s backgrounds the same? Were their surroundings the same? Certainly their socioeconomic standards were quite different and will be compared. We will compare how the two girls gained inner strength from their surroundings and how those surroundings were alike and different. Interesting comparisons can be made between Clara’s home and the mansion in Yorkshire, including the servants and their relationships with the girls.

Again journal writing will be introduced where the children write their own feelings from a scene in the film. One sample will be the kidnapping by the aunt from the grandfathers cottage. This scene shows Heidi quite concerned about telling grandfather where she is going before departing with the aunt. However, the aunt is determined to take Heidi away during the absence of the grandfather. However, after several protests from Heidi about leaving, the aunt allows Heidi to place a pair of shoes made by her grandfather by the fireplace. She comments that this gesture will surely tell her grandfather that she will soon return. The shoes are filmed close up and depict a strong bond between the grandfather and Heidi. There is a strong religious tie throughout the film. In fact, the opening scene shows a crucifix in the foreground. The crucifix is then moved across the screen to the lower left hand corner with Heidi coming from behind the crucifix and moving into center screen. In the Bible, Jesus’ love for his disciples shows his willingness to wash their feet. The shoes show this love and affection that had developed between Heidi and her grandfather. Heidi didn’t take the shoes with her. Didn’t she need them? Why did Heidi place the shoes by the fireplace rather than on her bed or under her chair? What would you have done to show the grandfather you would be back soon? How would you have felt about leaving Grandfather? These are some of the questions that the children will address in their journal writing.

(Day 9 & 10—“Tuesday and Wednesday”)

The following day Friday Funtastic will bring her Heidi puppet to class. She tells the children that they are going to make a puppet and write their own Heidi story. I would anticipate that this lesson would last two days so that the children could confer with me in editing their stories and sharing them in class with their puppet. A paper bag will be used as a base to place the hand. The children will use their own imaginations and create their puppet from construction paper.

“Dumbo”

Dumbo is a baby elephant who is bom with oversized ears. All of the other circus entertainers, including the elephants snub and make fun of Dumbo except a mouse called Timothy. When Dumbo and Timothy awaken one morning in a treetop, they know something magical has taken place. However, Dumbo does not believe he can fly until a friendly crow gives him a “magic” feather. Timothy helps Dumbo regain his confidence in himself when the feather slips from his trunk and begins to fall. The delightful story ends with Dumbo soaring as high as the flying stars of the circus.

(Day 11 —“Thursday”)

Unlike the other two films where we read the story before viewing the film, I will show the film, “Dumbo” first. Basically the film will be used as a comparison between the use of live characters in a film and animated characters. The children will be able to identify with the animated characters because of the many cartoons that most of them watch on television. Friday Funtastic will introduce the film. She will tell the children that this is one of her favorite film friends because the characters in the film remind her of herself. She will tell them that the characters are animated, meaning that they appear real because they move and talk, but actually they are drawings that were filmed in succession or made to move by a computer.

(Day 12 & 13—“Friday and Monday”)

Friday Funtastic will ask one of her puppet friends, Tuesday’s Cup of Sugar to help tell the story from the book Dumbo. The story along with Tuesday’s Cup of Sugar will be videotaped and used as a discussion to compare the story in the film with the story in the book.

The children in my classes enjoy writing about stories that are read in class. There’s usually some competitiveness in trying to see who can remember and write the most about the story. As a follow-up to our animated film, we will make our own animated film in class. However, rather than making the project an individual product, the children will be paired and asked to write and illustrate various parts of the story. They will be responsible for making a background scene for their particular part in the story. The characters will be cut out separately along with tabs attached to them so the children can slide their characters across their paper through a slit in the background scene. One child will slide the characters while the other child reads their part in the story. Each sequence will be videotaped until the whole story is recorded and then viewed in class.

(Day 14—“Tuesday”)

Ann McGovern’s book The Circus will be used as a comparison between the animated circus acts in the film “Dumbo” and the live acts that are pictured in the book. After a discussion about the make-believe acts versus the live acts each child will write a story about a make-believe character in the circus who has a problem fitting into the circus family. For example, a circus clown named “Charlie” has feet so big that he always falls before he is able to do his act and as a result the whole clown act is ruined. The other clowns get together and decide to tell their boss man that they want Charlie fired. However, Shorty the Clown comes up with an idea whereby Charlie’s feet become part of a stunt and Charlie is a hero. In other words, “Dumbo” will be used as a model for writing and illustrating a story in class.

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Sample Lesson Plans:

Days 2-3

Story Film: “The Secret Garden”

Summary:
A troubled orphan named Mary, a bedridden cousin who wants to be called Master Collins along with a country lad called Dickson discover that sharing kindness and respect can help the world to be a better place. The three friends discover a locked and abandoned garden and, through their efforts and care restore the place to a beautiful haven.

Procedures:

1. Friday Funtastic, a puppet will introduce her film friend. After giving a brief summary of the story, she will ask the children to discover how Mary and Collins unlocked their “doors” to happiness.
2. Following the film, discussion will center on the relationship between Mary, Collins and Dickson. “What did Mary do when Collins screamed at her? Did she give up and abandon him? Did Mary and Dickson play a part in helping Collins to regain his health and strength?
3. Friday Funtastic complains about his dismal surroundings inside his bag. This leads into a discussion about unhappy feelings in the children’s lives. The puppet elicits ways that may generate inner strength to overcome and cope with unpleasant circumstances.
4. Prepare a chart and show similarities and differences between the story in the book and the film.
5. The children will work in pairs or groups of four to discuss parts of the story that they liked or disliked. Each group will appoint a recorder and a reporter to give their results in class.

Day 5

Story Film: “Heidi”

Summary:
A kind-hearted orphan child is placed with her crusty old grandfather who lives high in the Alps of Switzerland. The child wins the affections of her grandfather and they become inseparable. Suspense fills the story as a selfish aunt kidnaps Heidi and sells her to a wealthy family. However, happiness rules once more on the mountain as Heidi helps her invalid friend, Clara, gain the courage and inner strength to walk again.

Procedures:

1. Friday Funtastic, a puppet, will help the children locate Switzerland. The children will discover that Switzerland is about the size of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Road Island together.
2. Show pictures from the books, Switzerland and The Alps.
3. Friday Funtastic will help to tell the story in class.
4. Introduce cheese making through pictures and discussion.
5. The children will write a tall tale around the theme “Cheese and Its Holes,” then share their story in class.
6. The children sample products of Switzerland—swiss cheese and hot chocolate.
7. Friday Funtastic reveals her secret telling how swiss cheese gets its holes. (A special bacterial culture causing a gas bubble produces the holes in cheese. The cheese is aged from 60—90 days at a room temperature of 65 degrees.)

Days 12 & l3

Story Film: “Dumbo”

Summary:
A circus elephant is born with big ears. All the circus hands, including the elephants ridicule and harass him. A mouse called, Timothy befriends Dumbo and becomes his source of encouragement. Through the efforts of a friendly crow and his friend Timothy, Dumbo gains confidence in himself and flys as high as the flying stars of the circus.

Procedures:

1. The children will be paired and assigned different parts of the story.
2. Each group will make a background scene and write their part of the story.
3. Story characters will be drawn and cut out with tabs attached.
4. The scenes will be placed in sequence and videotaped.
5. One child will move the character or characters along the slit in the background scene. The other child reads their part of the story.
6. The finished project is viewed in class.

After School Program

The After School Program meets for six to eight weeks, one day a week for an hour and half session. Children sign up for this program with their parents’ permission. They are chosen on a first come basis until the enrollment reaches approximately fifteen children.

The session will begin with an introduction to vocabulary words connected to making movies. Gwen Cherrell’s book How Movies Are Made will be used as a resource for looking at pictures about the movie industry. The children will learn that the set determines how the movie will look on the screen. The Art Director begins with painted drawings before the sets are constructed by carpenters and painters. The Director will decide how the story is told while working with the actors during rehearsals. The actors become the characters in the story that is being told on the movie screen. Costumes that are the clothes worn by the actors help to make up the characters in the story. Make-up and hairdressing also help to identify characters. For example, a clown at a party is immediately identified by his clothes and make-up or an elderly lady by her hair style and wrinkled skin. The lens of the camera must be properly focused so that the shooting, (i.e. the photography) will be successful. The children will be given the opportunity to view their classmates through a video camera and watch the lens focus for filming.

As the children are being videotaped, they will use creative dramatics to portray actions or show character traits. For example, I might ask the children to show me a very tall person or object. Another example might be to think about putting oneself in a box. Perhaps they could think of a nice, tall, skinny box. Then I will tell them to break out of the box and ask them to explain how they did it. Climbing stairs, pulling ropes, opening gifts, etc. are all examples of creative dramatics that I will use during this session. Character traits can be developed by showing angry and sad faces and then freezing the expression so other classmates can see and evaluate the trait. The children will relate either a make-believe event or real experience related to their expressions.

The following sessions will be used for rehearsal time for videotaping a school-wide production on stage. In addition, background scenery and simple costumes will be worked on during these sessions. The art teacher, parents and the children will collaborate in designing the set and making the costumes.

A story will be chosen that was written during creative writing in the regular classroom. Either the class or I will help to expand the story and prepare it for a school-wide play production. One such example that follows was written by first grader. Jermaine Lewis and expanded by his classmates. The title of his story was “Slide the Rabbit.” The theme for writing the story revolved around a tall tale involving a rabbit who got into a difficult situation and how he escaped.

“Slide The Rabbit”

By Jermaine Lewis and the first grade class

Once upon a time there was a rabbit whose name was Slide. He lived in the forest in a hole in the ground. His hole was very special. He had his own little bed. In his kitchen there was lots of kitchen stuff like pots and pans, chairs and a table. His mother’s name was Dorothy Rabbit.

One day, Slide wanted to go to the park. His mother told him to be careful because Auntie Flipper Rabbit had seen the big bad wolf nearby. The swing was Slide’s favorite place to be in the park. He loved to see how high he could go.

Slide was having a great time on the swing. He was going higher than he had ever gone before. All at once he looked down and to his surprise he thought he saw a bush moving. Slide was scared because he had never seen a bush move. He decided that he would stop the swing and go home. However, before he could get off the swing, the big bad wolf was in front of him. He told Slide to get off the swing. Then he grabbed Slide and took him to his cave deep in the woods.

The wolf tied up Slide. Then he got a big pot of boiling water and told Slide that he was going to make rabbit stew. He began to collect things for his rabbit stew like carrots, onions, tomatoes, celery, back-eyed peas, peanuts, cabbage, watermelon and potatoes. Each time he dropped something in the pot of boiling water, he smacked his lips and looked at Slide.

Meanwhile Slide’s mother, Dorothy Rabbit was worried because Slide did not come home for lunch. She went to the park to look for Slide. She did not see Slide but she saw the wolf’s tracks and followed them to the cave. At the cave she saw Slide tied up and the wolf making the rabbit stew.

Dorothy Rabbit ran into the cave and jumped onto the wolf shouting, “I’m going to eat you up.” The wolf thought it was Meanie the big bad bear. He yelled pushing Dorothy Rabbit to the ground and ran away. Nobody has seen him since. However, whenever the rabbit family hears the wind howl at night, they tell their children that the wolf is crying because he lost his rabbit stew.

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Sample Script:

“Slide The Rabbit”

Characters: (Slide, Mother Dorothy, Cousin Flipper, Wolf, Meanie Bear)
Setting, Slide and his mother, Dorothy live in the forest in a hole in the ground. Their lovely cottage hole is fully equipped with beds, table and Slide’s heart shaped chair. Cousin Flipper lives closer to the edge of the forest behind a huge rock pile. She is able to tell who is going in and out of the forest. The big bad wolf lives deep in the forest in a cave that is not very neat. Meanie Bear lives in a cave on the other side of the hill.
Scene 1 (Slide is in bed sleeping while Mother Dorothy is fixing breakfast. A stage hand dressed in black comes to center stage and holds up a sign that says 8:00 while he repeats: Eight o’clock, time to get up.)
Slide: Oh, I’m so sleepy. What is that I smell? (He yawns, stretches and puts on his slippers.) Mother must be making my favorite breakfast. (As he walks over to his mother who is cooking breakfast, they exchange good morning greetings.)
Mother Dorothy: I made your favorite breakfast, fried carrots with turnip tops and tomato juice.
Slide: I want to go to the park today. I can’t wait to get on the big swing. (While Slide eats his breakfast, the phone rings. Mother answers the phone. it is Cousin Flipper.)
Cousin Flipper: Mother Dorothy, I have some bad news for you. I just saw the big bad wolf go by my rock pile. His basket was piled high with all kinds of vegetables. I didn’t see any meat in his vegetable heap, so you know he’ll be looking for one of us to eat. Oh dear, I must go, I think I just saw Meanie Bear too. I must find out where he is going. Do be careful.
Mother Dorothy: -Thanks for the news. I’ll tell Slide to be careful.
Slide: (Slide finishes his breakfast and puts his cap on backwards.) Mother, I’m leaving for the park.
Mother: Dorothy: Slide do be careful. Cousin Flipper said that she just saw the big bad wolf and Meanie Bear returning to the forest. It doesn’t sound very good.
Slide: Cousin Flipper always has her nose into somebody’s business. Why doesn’t she get a cottage hole in the ground like we have Mother. (Slide exits as he says good-bye to his mother.)
Scene 2 (Slide is in the park swinging. The wolf is watching him from behind a bush.)
Slide: The swing is my favorite place to be. (Slide sings a song. As he finishes his song, he notices something moving at the side of the swing.) Did I just see a bush move. I never saw a moving bush. I’m getting out of here. (Just as Slide gets off the swing, the wolf comes in front of him and blocks his escape.)
Wolf: Just where do you think your going, young man?
Slide: I think my mother is calling me for lunch.
Wolf: Lunch? Well, well, I think you’ll make a very fine lunch for me. Slide pleads with the wolf to let him go but the wolf takes him to his cave. The wolf ties up Slide.) I’m going to make some rabbit stew. Yum, yum. . . let’s see, I’ll need a pot of boiling water. Then . . . where is my basket?..Oh yes, some delicious carrots, onions, tomatoes, celery, back-eyed peas, peanuts, cabbage, watermelon, and potatoes. (As the wolf drops these items in the pot he looks at Slide and. smacks his lips.)
Mother Dorothy: It is lunch time. Where could slide be? He’s never late for his favorite lunch of boiled carrots and nice green clover grass. Oh dear what am I going to do. (She stops abruptly.) Oh no . . . the wolf. the wolf . . . (Mother Dorothy runs to the park.’ Where is Slide? I don’t see him. (She discovers the wolf’s tracks in the mud.) I see wolf tracks. The wolf must have taken Slide. Cousin Flipper was right. He was looking for a rabbit. (Mother goes to the wolf’s cave and peers inside.)
Wolf: (The wolf unties Slide.) You will make a lovely rabbit stew.
Mother Dorothy: (Mother Dorothy jumps onto the wolf and shouts.) I’m going to eat you up.
Meanie Bear: (Meanie Bear comes on the scene and yawns.) I think I’ll have some wolf stew.
Wolf: (When the wolf sees and hears Meanie Bear, he howls and runs away. Slide and Mother Dorothy exit.)
Meanie Bear: (Begins to eat the wolf’s stew.) This is good stew without the wolf.
Scene 3 (Mother Dorothy, Slide and his brothers and sisters are sitting at the table eating breakfast. A choir of rabbits join them on stage as they sing a song about the wind.)
Slide: Mother, what is that strange noise I hear in the forest.
Mother Dorothy: My dear, that is the wolf crying because he lost his rabbit stew.
By the end of the After School Program, the children will be ready to produce their school-wide play. One day will be set aside during the regular school day for the big production. Parents, siblings, grandparents and friends will be invited to see the grand performance. Video taped copies will be available for the parents after the performance.

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Teacher Bibliography

Andersen, Yvonne. Make Your Own Animated Movies. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1970. An excellent handbook giving valuable tips about equipment and supplies. Also, tips and tested activities for making animated movies.

Andersen, Yvonne. Make Your Own Movies and Videotapes. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1991. An excellent up-to-date guide on the art of filmmaking.

Cherrell, Gwen. How Movies Are Made. New York: Facts on File, Inc. 1989. The book gives a brief history about filmmaking. The book contains an excellent introduction to film terminology.

Edelson, Edward. Great Movie Spectaculars. New York: Doubleday and Co., 1976. Edelson describes the fascinating stories and techniques behind many great movies such as: “Ben Hur,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Cleopatra” and hundreds more.

Engel, Lehman. The Critics. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. 1976. In his book Engel reviews the reviewers. It is his contention that a production should not be viewed through the eyes of the critics alone. He examines issues such as the power behind making or breaking productions.

Fleming, Alice. The Moviemakers. New York: St. Martin’s Press., 1973. The book covers the development of the motion picture industry. Well known figures such as Wait Disney, Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock and others are featured in chapter headings throughout the book.

Goldstein, Laurence. Into Film. New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., Inc., 1976. The book attempts to give the reader an in-depth look into the film-making process through the mind of a film’s creator. Contains an excellent glossary.

Gleasner, Diana C. The Movies. New York: Walker and Co., 1983. A short book bringing to life the early days of the movies. The book describes different techniques used in early film-making.

Hirschfeld, Burt. Your Career in Theatre: Stagestruck. NewYork: Julian Messner., Inc., 1963. The book offers the reader an overview of the development of the theatre. It describes what goes into producing a show.

Hubbard, Freeman. Great Days of the Circus. New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.. 1962. A delightful book giving the history of the “stars” performing under the Big Top. The book contains pictures of an era gone by.

Howard, Vernon. Pantomimes, Charades and Skits. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1959. An excellent activity book for helping the young child develop characters for a play.

Howard, Vernon. The Complete Book of Children’s Theater. New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1964. A beautiful book giving activities for pantomime and staging expressions.

Kauffmann, Stanley. American Film Criticism. New York:. Liveright, 1972. Kauffmann offers the reader a critical overview surrounding American film. Included are legends such as: “The Birth of a Nation;” “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari;” “The Blue Angel;” “City Lights and countless others.

Olfson, Lewy. You Can Put On A Show. New York: Sterling Publishing Inc., 1975. A helpful book for the inexperienced who need direction and help in organizing a school production.

Wehrum, Victoria. The Amencan Theatre. New York: Franklin Wafts, Inc., 1984. The book gives a short history of the American theatre.

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Student’s Bibliography

Babcock, Dennis and Boyd, Preston. Careers In The Theater. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 1975. A beautiful book with colored pictures depicting what goes on behind the scenes in a theater production.

Bendick, Jeanne and Robert. Filming Works Like This. New York: McGraw Book Co., 1970. An easy to follow book giving the young film-maker’s insight into basic techniques of film,

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1990. A young orphan is sent to live at her uncle’s mansion in the English countryside. The story has been retold in simple language with beautiful colored pictures.

Breeden, Robert.. The Alps. Washington, D. C.: The National Geographic Society., 1973. The reader’s given a beautiful tour of the Alpine countries with both pictures and text.

Duncan, Louis. The Circus Comes Home. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1993. A delightful children’s book paying tribute to the magic surrounding the golden age of the circus. The black and white pictures contain a lot of detail about the circus and its performers.

Gibbon, David and Smart, Ted. Switzerland. Vicenza: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1978. A beautiful picture book in color about the country of Switzerland.

Greene, Carol. England. Chicago: Children’s Press., 1982. A book about England with descriptive words and colorful pictures. The book describes the Yorkshire moor, the setting for the Secret Garden.

Hutchinson, William. The Theatre. New York: Maxton Publishers, Inc., 1956. The book gives a history of the theatre dating back to the fifth century B.C. Greek theatre. Detailed pictures both in color and black and white aid in giving meaning to the text.

Kubly, Herbert. Switzerland. New York: Time Inc., 1964. Pictures and text give a descriptive overview of the country of Switzerland.

Laslo, Cynthia. A Career In The Circus. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 1988. A most interesting book explaining a lot of clown techniques and the hard work of performing.

McGovern, Ann. The Circus. New York: Four Winds Press, 1972. An easily understood book containing information about the circus and its families.

Peters, Joan and Sutcliffe, Anna. Making Costumes For School Plays. Boston: Plays, Inc., 1975. A reference book for making costumes for school drama productions. It gives suggestions for period costumes —traditional, contemporary and abstract.

Spyri, Johanna. Heidi. Kingsport: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1927. The story of Heidi, an orphan who goes to live with her crusty grandfather in the Alps.

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Teacher Resources

Film TitleYearDirectorRun Time
DUMBO1941Sharpsteen, Ben/Disney, W. 64 min.
HEIDI1965Dwan, Allan88 min.
SECRET GARDEN1993 Holland, Agnieszka102 min.
  FUN WITH     CHARACTER     VOICES 1991VonSeggen, Liz65 min.

For more information contact:

One Way Street, Inc.

P.O. Box 2398

Littleton, CO 80161

(303) 790-1188

Songs for Play Script:

Seeger, Ruth Crawford. American Folk Songs For Children. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. (“The Wind Blow East” A song for the children’s choir.)

Warren, Jean. Piggyback Songs. Everett: Warren Publishing House, 1983. (Songs about “Me.”)

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Contents of 1995 Volume II | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

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