A children’s picture book will be preselected and read by the teacher before beginning the activity. It will be beneficial to the class if the book is unknown to the students. The book, The Island by Armin Greder will be used as an example throughout the following description:
Part 1: Instructed Drawing
Before starting, select an illustration from the book that has significant meaning to the book as a whole. To begin, partner students up. Explain that one partner will be the teller, while the other will be the drawer. Have all the drawers blindfold themselves and then show the tellers the chosen illustration. It is important for the drawers to not see the image. Next, walk around the room so that all the tellers get a good view of the illustration. As you walk around the room, the tellers will then begin to describe the illustration to their drawing partners. The drawers will do the best they can to draw the illustration through the description the teller is giving them. After about 3-5 minutes, they may stop in which the drawer can take his blindfold off and see both his drawing and the book’s illustration.
Have each set of partners team up with another set of partners to discuss each other’s illustrations.
For this example, an illustration of the sea with a burning raft was used.
*This step introduces the mood of the story. Students will begin imagining what the story is about.
Part 2: Instructed Mime
Before starting, the teacher will have chosen a text or illustration from the book that she will have the students elaborate on. For this example, the text describing a man on a raft will be used. Students are to find a random spot in the room at least 5 feet from each other. The teacher will then explain to the students that they are going to act out or mime what is being said without making noise. The teacher may then begin to describe the situation from the chosen text/ illustration. First, you would tell the students that they are making a raft. You can ask them what materials might they use? How would you put these materials together? Remember, the students are not to respond verbally but through their actions. Next, you would tell the students to put their rafts in the water and begin sailing out to sea. You could ask them what activities they would do at sea? What would they eat? What happens after several days go by? Eventually you will tell them to look into the distance at an island. Ask them how they will react to this sighting.
As students mime what is being said, continue to prompt them until you feel they understand the scenario well enough to move on to the next step.
*This activity puts students into character and prepares them so that they have a feel for what the story may be about without ever reading it. Students will be encouraged to search for what comes next.
Part 3: Story Pieces
Before starting this step in the activity, photocopy several (5+) random pages from the story and post them around the classroom unordered. Assign student into several groups so that you have one group per page. Pass out sticky notes to each group and then have them walk around the room and post their reactions, thoughts, feeling , etc., towards each page’s text and illustrations. Once this activity is complete, gather students together to have a class discussion on what they think the story is about. After discussing, they may then read the actual story.
*This allows students to connect with each page individually without the knowledge of the previous plot.
Part 4: Frozen Representaions
Have students walk randomly around the room. As they walk around the room explain to them the character you would like them to represent and that when you say freeze, they will create a frozen representation of that character. For example, you could say that they will portray the man when he first reaches the island. Once students understand what they are to do, ask them freeze. After several seconds have them unfreeze and continue walking randomly around the room. They will then freeze again but this time ask them to exaggerate their representation of that character.
You could further this exercise by choosing students to represent other characters in other scenarios of the story. Or, if there is a particularliy interesting forzen charcter, ask the other students to unfreeze and view/discuss the still forzen character. Then ask that students become apart of the still frozen character’s scene by either becoming another character or a prop.
* Students will further their understanding/relationship with the character(s) and strengthen their opinion towards them.
Part 5: Town Council Meeting
Choose 4-5 students to play the role of town council members. Ask the rest of the students to take on a role of a character in the book. Have the council member sit at the front of the room and create an area in the middle of the room that will be used as the “hot spot”. As the teacher, you may also get into character as the “chairperson” of the meeting. To begin the activity, you might say,” Hello fellow townspeople. As we all know, we are gathered here today to share our opinions on recent incidents that have taken place in our community and make a final decision on our choice of action.” You will explain that the “community members” have ten minutes to share their opinions with the town council members by stepping up to the “hotspot”. After ten minutes, the council members will then vote on what actions will be taken.
An example would be voting on whether the man will stay or go. Students can take on the character of either community members wishing for the man to stay, or community members wishing for the man to leave.
Following the vote, have the citizens create two parallel lines facing each other (about 5 feet apart. Have the council members walk through the lines while the citizens quietly and repeatedly state their response to the verdict.
*This allows students to fully embody the characters and fully realize their understanding/ relationship will the characters and the story its self.
Part 6: Letter to Charcter
For the final step of the activity, ask students to write a letter to the main character of the story. For this example, it would be to the man. After a couple of minutes into their writing, ask students to crumple their letters into a ball and throw them into the center of the room. Students will then pick up a random crumpled letter and read it, underlying string sentences. Next, have the students read out their underlined sentences one by one to create a new letter to the character creating a collaboration of all the letters.
Evaluation of Activity as a Whole:
- Stems creativity and imagination
- Encourages an independent and group exploration of text/ illustrations
- Teaches creating actions from spoken narrative
- Providing new ways of evaluating text/images
- All students will participate throughout entire activity (there is no elimination)
- Students have multiple opportunities to express themselves
- Prompts may need to be well detailed depending on audience
- Age- students may be too young to understand certain steps
- Introducing students to a literary source
- Memorizing key elements in a story
- Helping students to connect with characters on a personal level
- Creating classroom inclusiveness
- Preparing students for what will be read
- Collecting and evaluating their understanding of the literary source
- Understanding democracy
- Prompts may change
- Any story may be used
- In Part 3, have students go around a second time to read everyone’s responses and checkmark what they agree with to further their reactions, thoughts, feeling , etc.
- Have students write a response to the letter they picked up as if they were the man.
- If the teacher wishes to have a say on the vote in part 5, have only four council members so that if there is a tie, the teacher becomes the tie breaker.
- Students may be asked to represent their true emotions or take up the emotions of the character.