June 19, 2014

Fairy Tale Endings

On Friday of last week, we ended the first of many one week summer camps at the theater I work for. This camp was called "Fairy Tale Theater Styles" and it was for ages 8-12. I was IN LOVE with this class. It was a total blast and I'm using it as the inspiration of my newest TpT product!

The summer camps at the theater are three hours a day for one week. Parents can sign their kids up for one camp or enough camps to last all summer! They are broken down into age groups (ages 4-7, ages 8-12, and the teen camps). I love how the camps work and they all have awesome themes that make learning theater skills even more fun!

Like I said, this one was a fairy tale theme and I had nine very excited little girls. Here's a breakdown of what we did, most of which is included in the download on TpT:

On Day One, we did a lot of ice breaker games that I have in my back pocket. I only knew one of the students in the class from a class I taught last year, but I didn't know anyone else! It was exciting to have new kids around!

Ice Breakers: The Adjective Game and the Skittles Game

The Adjective Game: Everyone stands in a circle and we go around in a circle introducing ourselves with an adjective starting with the same sound as our name before it. Example from the class: Jumpy Jenna. She was accurate.

The Skittles Game: Everyone gets three Skittles of different colors. I premade a little chart that had a corresponding topic next to each color. Red for family, yellow for hobbies, orange for favorite color, etc. You can do this with whatever you want! We went around in the circle and the kids told everyone a little about themselves based on the color candies they had. Added bonus: You get to eat Skittles!

I tried to start and end each camp day with a fairy tale reading. I started with Cinderella. The girls were happily nibbling on their Skittles while I read and were definitely excited for the next activity:

Here's how it works. I split the entire group into two groups. I did this because I had two volunteer teen interns (Derek and Lindsey), so we had Team Derek and Team Lindsey. They were uneven, but we made up for it later with different groups. You can totally do this with as many groups as you want, but it works best in groups of 4 or more.

The teams were given the task of retelling the story of Cinderella as a 5 minute play where everyone has a role. That was fine and dandy. THEN, after they all perform their short play, you give them the same task but the twist is.... They now only have one minute to retell the same story. If they do well with that, which my groups did, you can then challenge them to retell the story in 30 seconds. That is hilarious to watch!

The best part about this game is the fact that the students really have to think about what is important in the story to retell. Have you ever asked a child to tell you about the book they are reading and they want to tell you every detail? This eliminates that! Included in the Fairy Tale Unit on TpT is a writing activity similar to this that would supplement this activity.

After the retelling challenge, we played a few more games, one of which I call the "Stepmother's Chore Relay Race." I tried to make Day One all about Cinderella. ;)

In addition to the two games mentioned above, we did some work on character traits and why they are important to know as an actor. I rolled out some white butcher paper and gave them markers and them write in (yearbook style) the different character traits of Cinderella. We hung it up on the wall for us to refer to all week long.

And of course, being that this is a theater camp, we started learning some basic ballroom dancing steps to the song "Ten Minutes Ago" from the Broadway version of Cinderella. At first I was disappointed that I didn't have any boys in the class, it wound up being a huge benefit. The girls didn't mind being each other's partners and I didn't have to deal with "EWW! I am not dancing with a boy!!" Kids...

I was pretty excited to go back the next day and the kiddos were excited to see me, so I would say, that means Day One was a success! Day Two was awesome as well. We did puppet shows! The theater I work for has TONS of hand puppets and finger puppets. I had them in small groups again and I scattered the puppets around the room. They were instructed to each choose two puppets (they have two hands after all!) and create their own fairy tale. We discussed the elements of a fairy tale.

I used some posters that I made and hung them up on the wall for them to refer to as they figured out their puppet show. They came up with some pretty awesome fairy tales! You can snag the posters for FREE at my TpT store and they match everything else in the full unit (also on my TpT store). Click the image below to go to the FREEBIE!!

Day Two was so much fun and I tried to record their puppet shows, but I discovered that I had my phone on camera the whole time and instead of recording, I just took one picture. /facepalm. What a waste! But take my word for it (because you have no choice...) that they were great. I loved seeing the kids go up to the posters and jot down their ideas to rehearse. So awesome.

We also read The Princess and The Pea because they had never heard of it! WHAT?! They were certainly intrigued to hear a fairy tale they hadn't heard before and I was certainly thrilled to be the one to share it with them. After we read it, I showed them the first twenty minutes of the musical version of the story called Once Upon a Mattress. It was a theater camp, after all, and I love the fact that the musical changed some things about the original story. It made the kids really think about why those elements were changed in order to fit the style of entertainment. They did a great job and they enjoyed the movie. If you have not seen or heard the music in Once Upon a Mattress, look it up for sure! It is really enjoyable and the movie version is in parts on YouTube (with Zooey Deschanel, Matthew Morris, and the wonderful Carol Burnett!).

And what kind of theater class would this have been if we didn't SING something! We sang some songs from Tangled, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, and Pinocchio. Karaoke time!

I have to tell you that Day Three was probably the most fun day of them all. Seriously. We did some set designing.

I have tried set design ONCE with 8-year-olds. ONCE. Tried and definitely failed. It was a horrible flop and I vowed I would never try it again. Well... I broke my vow and tried my hand at it again for this camp. After a few years of avoiding it, I felt it was time to introduce it again... but in a more kid-friendly way. I made a game. And it rocked.

I call the game the "Creative Castle Game" and it works like this: There are three types of cards. Students draw a card from each type (The Fairy Tale Link card, The Castle Design card, and the Character card). Each card has some sort of design element on it that must be included in their drawing. This caused the students to really narrow down what their design needed to be, which is important in theater set design. You must meet the needs of the performance and the performers. I got out the rulers and the art supplies and let them go to town. Because of the wide age range, I did not require them to include measurements and scales, but with older students I would. It was also really awesome to hang up their designs around the room for a "Design Gallery" when parents came on the last day for "Share Day."

Here's an example that one of the students was working on. Her cards were:
1. Your castle is home to a giant in the sky. (Jack and the Beanstalk)
2. Your castle has a moat surrounding it. (design element)
3. Your princess has dark hair (character element)

All the cards and more pictures are included in the full unit HERE in my TpT store. In the download I also included ways the cards could be used as a writing assignment or writing center with a fairy tale twist. Included as well are rubrics for easy grading, an answer key for the Fairy Tale Link cards, and a "Colorful Words" page to help those students who are writing about their castle instead of drawing it.

I know that I JUST said that Day Three was the most awesome day... but Day Four was pretty killer, too. I also told you that the theater has a huge collection of puppets... something else they have a lot of... are costumes. I usually avoid the costume chests like the plague with larger classes, because the trunks were previously AWFUL to get out and organize. It was chaos! But our new Education Director tore everything apart a little while ago and organized everything beautifully. I was not afraid to use the costumes! And the kids were border-lined threatened that if they didn't keep it organized there would be severe consequences. So we played some great games with the costumes.
In one such game, the girls chose a random costume and put it on, I split them into groups, and they had to act out a fairy tale based on the random costumes they had on. Interesting, to say the least. They were very creative. And poor Derek. What a trooper. Those girls had him in all kinds of wacky get-ups. This picture of the tutu just cracks me up though.

We also discussed fractured fairy tales. There are a lot of plays and musicals that are written in a fractured fairy tale style and since this class was called "Fairy Tale Theater Styles" I thought it would be appropriate and super awesome to add that in. I read The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. I chose it because there are short silly versions of fairy tales so we could read a lot in our limited time after dress up time. Then, I challenged the girls to write their own fracture fairy tale monologues. They chose a costume and everything and wrote them diligently. I was SO impressed. The things they came up with were so great. I mean, look at these titles:

"The True Story of The Little Mermaid" (Ariel was a little feminist in this one demanding that Eric sacrifice his life and become a merman... why does SHE have to do it??)

"The Two Blind Mice and The Sister With 20/20 Vision" (Oh my word... and one of the brothers' names was Mickey. So FUNNY.)

"Awake Beauty" (She was cursed to stay awake instead of sleep and was forced to watch infomercials on TV all night long. It was also awesome that her costume was pink pajamas and she carried a pillow)

I can't make these things up, people. I am far less creative that these awesome kiddos!


We practiced our things and played a few games, but today was all about the parents coming in for the last 45 minutes of camp and watching our performances. We set up the Castle Design Gallery, I printed and had the kids fold some programs and we got our costumes ready to present our monologues and dances. Here's how it went down:

"Ten Minutes Ago" ballroom dance from Cinderella

"Kiss the Girl" (singing) from The Little Mermaid

"I See the Light" (singing) from Tangled

Fractured Fairy Tale Monologues (all 9 original monologues!)

"I'm a Believer" dance from Shrek

All the dances were choreographed by yours truly and will be up on YouTube as soon as my husband edits it and makes it pretty. ;) I also wanted to put up the program but it has the students' full names. Sorry! They look cute though, don't worry!

More awesome costume pictures. One featuring Derek in the fabulous... something... the girls put him in. Gotta love it!

So there ya have it folks. This post was a long one but I felt that I needed to share my first AMAZING week at the theater camps. I can't wait for next week. Next week's camp is called "You Can't Stop the Beat" and it is a musical theater dance camp! Woo-HOO!!

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