The Story of Henny Lenny!

Greetings from my warm, carefree home!

Sorry for the bragging, but I am so happy to be on winter vacation. It seemed like it took 3 years to get here, not 3 months! Now I have some time to breathe...and get more work done!

As promised many moons ago, here is my post on our wonderful drama unit that concluded with each class in the Lower School performing a play.

Our classroom performed our rendition of the Chicken Little Story with some adaptations by Yours Truly. I rewrote the play to fit our classroom's size and reading level, and ensured that the lines were very repetitive for my students. As a special educator, I have learned a thing or two of ways to help kids feel successful, especially when it comes to performing in front of an audience. The play was named The Story of Henny Lenny, because it was modeled after the play Henny Penny, but I wanted a little longer title (sounds better on stage), and our Henny Penny was actually a boy, so we renamed the character Henny Lenny :)

Check out my adaptation of the script. {NOTE: I do not know how to embed a Google Docs document into my blog post. If you know how to do this, PLEASE contact me via comments. Thank you!}

To prepare for our roles as farm animals and story tellers, we practiced different techniques for projecting our voice, did lots of role-playing ways to stand on stage, and had a whole long discussion on ad-libbing. This discussion was not planned by me, nor my teaching team. We had this discussion because my students all wanted to ad-lib some lines (of course, not knowing what it was called), and only one of them could do it well (I'm just being honest...). We had to discuss the purpose of ad-libbing, when and why actors do it, and what NOT to do when ad-libbing (the majority of the students just wanted to talk more). We discussed how it is only funny and entertaining when the ad-libbed lines adds to the play, does not take away from it. We mentioned how, many times when our students were ad-libbing they were cutting each other off, or making it hard for the other students to know whose turn it was to say their lines. In the end, Henny Lenny was the only one who was allowed to ad-lib (not only was he the one with the most lines, therefore was able to add an additional line here and there, but he was also the only student who could do it well). The students were able to handle it and the play went off without a hitch! One of our lessons was on the different dramatic literary terms. Check out my dramatic literature flash cards. Another one of the fun activities we did was Intonation Charades. Each student was given a card with a phrase and instructions on it. The student was expected to complete the task on the card as written and the other students were asked to guess what he/she was doing. This was loads of fun, because the objective was to "act" or "sound" like a particular person or action, which helped students to understand why intonation was important, especially when performing in a play! 


First we discussed what intonation was
Then I modeled some examples using the same sentence and showing the importance of punctuation.

Then we played Intonation Charade. Here are two sets of the game using different sentences and different contexts. Both are available for free download.

Download the intonation charades cards here.

Additionally, to prepare for the play, I recorded myself on my iPhone, reading the script, omitting each character in each of the 7 audio CDs I created. For example, I created a script reading for Henny Lenny, and read all the lines of the play, except for Henny Lenny's, leaving time for Henny Lenny to say his lines when listening to the play. I created one for each of my students (7 in all), and one of me reading the entire play, so students could hear how the whole thing sounds when read together. Of course, I did some very funny voices for each of the characters too! Find the recording of the full script here.
I burned all the recordings to personal CDs for the students to listen to during Quiet Reading times, or Literacy Centers. These were a hit! 


For the day of the play (and for rehearsals), I made cue cards for my little actors. Because most are emerging readers, my cue cards did not have the lines, but instead had a picture of whose turn it was to talk, so students knew when and when not to say their lines. Because the lines were very repetitive, the kiddos did not have a problem remembering their lines, and instead focused on the cue cards for support. The image on the reverse side of Henny Lenny in the picture below, is a picture of our narrator's face. This way, the students knew that NO ad-libbing could take place once their scene was over, as the narrator needed to be heard, because he was the story teller!
Our "cue cards." The names of each character were written on the back so my Assistant Teacher knew which ones to pick up instead of having to flip it around to see. Easy Peasy for both students and teachers :)

Additionally, I made visuals for the students to know where to stand on stage. This was helpful so the kiddos didn't crowd around each other or huddle around Henny Lenny with their backs to the audience. This was especially helpful when they had to run off stage from the fox, so they knew to run in the line in which they were standing on stage! This prevented a lot of crashes and scratches!

Stage visuals with their character on it :)
Naturally, I recorded the whole play and it was wonderful! Our students projected their voices, faced the audience the whole time, and nailed every line! I was so proud I was beaming :) Many parents and my administrators complement our play, saying it was perfect for our age group and composition of kids. It was so clear and consistent, that the kids knew exactly what to do, and they could tell we worked very hard on it. Very kind words!

Our drama unit was a huge success and I can't wait to do it again next year! :)

Until next time,

Cheers!

R



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