We are pleased as punch with our latest show, Alice’s Adventures with Idioms! While our lyricist John Heath always works his genius in our shows, this play is truly his linguistic...
Test-Taking Strategies, our third play of the 2012-13 school season, was set to arrive at the end of February. But to help out a teacher who needs it sooner, we decided to crank out the...
Alice’s Adventures with ...1
European Explorers in the New ...3
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Articles from this issue:
- Studying Figurative Language with Alice’s Adventures with Idioms
- Bad Wolf to Teach Social Skills
- Inspiring Teacher Story: Derek’s Triumph
- ¿Sus estudiantes hablán español?
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Have you had success with a Bad Wolf play? We want your pedagogical and inspirational stories for our newsletter! Articles should be 150-350 words. We especially like stories about creative or cross-disciplinary ways to use our material, rewarding experiences you or your students have had, and anything that will help other teachers. We’ll do the editing, so don’t worry about achieving perfection. Just write it up and send it in and see your name in lights!
Experts deeply alarmed
Misfit writers are the last people you’d expect to be dishing out interpersonal advice, but we have had such great feedback about our character education and life skills plays that we just have to keep tackling the tough issues. In January we’ll be releasing Social Skills: How to Interact with Human Beings. This play features some very sad superheroes whose lack of social awareness is preventing them from making new friends. Fortunately, some savvy humans are willing to teach them what they need to know!
Topics will include:
- What’s a conversation, anyway? (And what isn’t!)
- Showing interest, listening, making eye contact
- Sharing vs. bragging
- Knowing what to say, what to leave out
- Being tactful, thinking before you speak
- Reading body language and social cues
- Appropriate conduct on the phone and online
For muchos años now, our customers have been requesting plays in español. And though we do speak un poquito, we haven’t been sure how our dumb jokes—the corazón of Bad Wolf—would come across in another language.
But now we’ve gotten más valiente and we want to take the toro by the horns. Writing our latest obra, Alice’s Adventures with Idioms, further reminded us how dificil it can be to make sense out of inglés! With your ayuda, we plan to write shows for Spanish-speaking and/or bilingual estudiantes in the near future.
If such a play would be interesante to you, please get in touch with us. We will be working in close connection with maestros, and we’d love for you to be part of the team.
By Melanie Peterson
I always buy the sheet music for the plays I buy.
Derek (name changed for confidentiality) was a mainstreamed and intelligent student with autism that I had in my class one year. Although he was friendly and eager to play and have friends, his black-and-white way of seeing the world was difficult for the other students to appreciate. Derek was quick to tattle because rules should not be broken, ever. Receiving acknowledgment and praise from his peers was rare.
We were practicing the play California Missions—and More! to perform for fellow students and parents at the end of that year. Derek was eager to participate, so with lines memorized and ready, he played his part and played it well. But what he really loved was music.
Unbeknownst to me, his mother had gone online and purchased not only the play but the sheet music as well. Derek learned to play every song on the piano even though we had only agreed to have him play one or two songs along with the CD.
The day of the performance, everything started well, and then the CD player just died. With no accompanying music, many of the students showed the beginnings of panic on their faces. That was when Derek came to the rescue. With just the smallest of promptings, Derek ran to the piano and accompanied every song for the entire play. He left the piano only once, to say his lines.
At the end of the performance, every child was brought to the front to be announced and take a bow for the audience (giving each parent a photo opportunity). In the nerves and relief of the performance being over, I managed to forget to acknowledge Derek’s last-minute contribution as pianist. The students interrupted and announced him themselves and all applauded as he took center stage for an additional bow. The audience was not alone in their applause as every student cheered for Derek that day. As each child gathered their things and left with their parent who had attended, I could see tears in Derek’s mom’s eyes.
It is now my policy to buy the sheet music with every play purchase (I have nine now). You never know when the next Derek will show up!
Do you have an inspiring, cool, unusual, useful, or otherwise awesome story about your experience with a Bad Wolf play? Please share it with us so we can feature it in our next issue of the Big Bad Wolf newsletter!
For you, figurative language is probably old hat. But if you start paying attention to the expressions you use every day and take for granted, you’ll quickly see how English idioms, similes, and metaphors could fly right over a child’s head. (Are you rolling your eyes yet? Good! We are Bad Wolf and it is our duty to thump you over the head with groan-inducing wordplay.)
Our experience writing our newest show, Alice’s Adventures with Idioms, opened our eyes to the depth of understanding that students could gain by studying figurative language. We wanted to create a play that could function as more than just a play, one that could launch lots of related language arts activities. So we opened the floodgates, stuffing the script and songs with over 150 idioms and similes. Of course, your students will learn a bucketload by simply putting on the play! But here are some additional suggestions for those who want to go the extra mile.
Use the songs/scenes throughout the year. Each song and scene in the show contains numerous examples of figurative language. Every few weeks you can hand out a small portion of the script and/or play a song. Assign students to find the meaning of individual expressions and report back to the class. Each song also has a theme (or two) that ties the idioms together. Ask students to identify that theme and make a list of other expressions that would fit into the same theme. By working on the show in this progressive way, students will have time to master the meaning of every single idiom. And when you put on the whole play at the end of the year, they’ll already know the songs and much of the dialogue. Rehearsals will be a breeze!
Get historical. The last full song in Alice is called “Idioms Have Tales to Tell.” We hope this catchy ditty whets your class’s appetite for idiomatic exploration. Even the strangest expressions aren’t just random; many used to have a literal meaning, and all have a historical basis. When you ask students to roll up their sleeves and research the history—not just the meaning—of an idiom, they will learn a ton about how language evolves, why we have the phrases we do, and the capacity of the English language to absorb words and expressions from other tongues and cultures. Who knows—some of your students may even fall head over heels with linguistics.
Bilingual classroom. Idioms aren’t just great for exploring English; they’re great for digging in to any language. When translated literally, they can also be quite hilarious! Your multilingual students can share favorite expressions from their other language(s). Which ones have English equivalents?
English Language Learners. Alice is a great resource for anyone learning English. You can use the play like any other, but plan to build in extra time (and perhaps supplementary exercises) to help students unpack and understand the idioms. The a-ha moments will come rolling in!
Tell us more, tell us more. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. We’d love to hear how you’re using Alice. Get in touch by leaving a comment below or contacting us.
We all know there are numerous benefits to having music, dance, and theater in the classroom. Our customers tell us all the time. But is there proof? In today’s educational climate, you may find yourself in need of scientific studies that demonstrate the value of music education. Here are some links that might help. Please add a comment or contact us if you have a link we should add!
10 Salient Sudies of the Arts in Education – Paragraph-long summaries of 10 different studies, along with links to more information about each one.
Highlights from key national research on arts education: multiple arts – A fabulous list of summaries and links to national studies about arts education, collected by Americans for the Arts. This page focuses on studies related to multiple art types.
Highlights from key national research on arts education: music – Same as above, only these studies focus on music only.
Highlights from key national research on arts education: drama – Same as above, only these studies focus on theater and drama.
Arts education may improve graduation rates (The Center for Arts Education)
We’re hard at work on the social skills play that will be coming out in January, but we wanted to make sure we’re not missing anything. If you can spare a minute, add a comment and let us know if there are particular tools or a particular curriculum you use to teach social skills, conversational skills, social communication, and the like.
It’s gonna be good!