BUILDING THEATRE EXPERIENCES FOR OUR YOUNGEST ACTORS
Joaquin Miller Elementary | Funded Spring 2018
“Seeing our students shine on stage is always the most rewarding. To watch the students’ confidence grow as they become comfortable on stage is so encouraging. We love watching the kids own their work and be so excited to share it on stage!”
Over the last few years, teachers at Miller Elementary have been growing theatre opportunities for their Kindergarten and First Grade students through literature, music, and storytelling. In an effort to expand their students’ experience, Miller Elementary teachers Debbie Winstein, Jennifer Griffith, and Michelle Fitzpatrick, applied for a Burbank Arts for All Foundation grant to bring in a music teaching artist to work with the students on creating original songs for their theatre performances.
Kindergarten students in Ms. Winstein and Ms. Fitzpatrick’s classes produced songs that connected to the informational texts and literature units they were studying, incorporating them into an original production of “Best Friends Forever: A Gerald and Piggie Play” (based on the books by Mo Willems). First grade students in Ms. Griffith’s class studied the fairy tale genre and wrote their own fairy tale scripts. They then worked with the teaching artist to use parts of each of their plays to produce a song.
According to the three teachers, “Our goals were met this year in being able to work with fellow teachers, to invite a guest artist to musically work with our students, and to continue to watch our children develop and flourish on stage. Both our first grade class and our two Kindergarten classes were able to choose, create and perform their pieces of literature in a new and exciting way. the ownership and pride exhibited in their determination and performances enhanced their creative process. Family participation and encouragement at home and during the shows was enthusiastic and appreciated by all.”
“A young Kindergarten student on the spectrum wanted nothing to do with the play, didn’t want lines, just wanted to stand there. As the play grew closer and he watched the other students excited to perform he decided he did want to be a part of the program. He wrote his own line and performed it with such confidence. It was such an encouraging story and just proves how powerful the art of theatre and storytelling are.”