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This “Little Mouse on the Prairie” story drama teaches compromise and cooperation
Language Arts, Social Studies
Title – “Little Mouse” Story Drama
By – Diane
Primary Subject – Language Arts – Drama
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 2-3
- This is a story drama based on the story “Little Mouse on the Prairie.” It is intended to be taught over three 30-minute classes. The main subject is of course drama; language arts and social studies are secondary. The PLO’s I’ve included are from the British Columbia Ministry of Education Curriculum.
- “Little Mouse on the Prairie” was written by Stephen Cosgrove, published by Grolier Enterprises, Inc, from Danbury, Connecticut in 1978.
- What can be gained from working together and compromise?
- I wonder if it is more important to work or to play?
- Demonstrate respect for the contributions of others (Exploration and Imagination) p. 14
- Demonstrate co-operative effort in dramatic work (Exploration and Imagination) p. 14
- Grade 2 & 3 Drama PLO’s:
- Write with the strategy of setting a purpose (Writing and Representing) p. 44-45
- Write while identifying an audience (Writing and Representing) p. 44-45
- Grade 2 & 3 Language Arts PLO’s:
- Grade 2 Social Studies PLO’s:
- Select a solution to a classroom or school problem (Skills and Processes of S.S.) p. 32
Activity 1: Introduction
- Time: Approximately 5-10 minutes
- Grouping: Whole group
- Strategy: Listening
- Administration: “
- ” and “
Is it better to work or to play?
- ” written on blackboard
- Focus: To introduce students to the key questions and themes of the story.
- The word COMPROMISE is written in big letters across the blackboard so that everyone can see it.
Can anyone tell me what the word on the blackboard behind me, “compromise,” means?
- Wait for students to answer. If no one knows (or if someone knows, just to recap), say:
(That’s right,) a compromise is a solution to a disagreement or problem in which neither side gets exactly everything that it wants, but both sides reach a fair agreement by giving up on some of its demands. So, when you have a disagreement with one of your friends or another person, you can compromise to solve your problem. I remember when I was younger, my sister and I constantly disagreed. We shared a bedroom and I liked to sleep with the window open, but my sister liked to sleep with it closed. I would wake up in the night and open the window, and then my sister would wake up and shut it, and neither of us got much sleep. Then we finally decided to compromise and to have the window open one night, then shut the next, switching back and forth. Neither of us got what we wanted all the time, but we both got what we wanted some of the time, and we both got a lot more sleep! Do any of you have a story like that, in which you had a disagreement with someone and had to come to a compromise?
- Wait a few moments for students to answer. Validate what they say afterwards by asking how the situation turned out, or by saying that they are a good friend for compromising, etc.
I want to share with you all a story that I really like called “The Little Mouse on the Prairie,” but first I think it will be fun to play a game. As we go through our activities today, I want you all to think about the question “What can be gained by working together or by compromise” and think about whether it is more important to work or to play. Activity 2: “Human Knots”
- Time: Approximately 7-8 minutes
- Grouping: Groups of 8-10 students
- Strategy: Cooperative play
- Administration: None
- Focus: To build excitement, to have students work together to achieve a common goal
The activity that we are going to play is called “Human Knots.” To start our game, I need all of you to turn to the person next to you. Now find another pair to make a group of four. Now find another four, to make a group of eight.
- (If it is a small class of less than twenty students, only make two groups.)
I want each group of eight to stand and make a circle. Everyone put up his or her right hand. Put your right hands into the circle and grab the hand of someone who is not standing next to you. Now put your left hand into the circle and grab the hand of someone else. You should be holding the hands of two other people. Now without letting go, try to untangle yourselves to make an open circle. Some people will be facing in and others may be facing out and that’s okay. You may end up with two small circles, and that’s okay, too. Do you have any questions?
- As the students try to untangle themselves, walk from group to group to observe how/if they are working together. If after about five minutes some groups are having no luck or if the students are not working together, you can intervene by asking the group to vote on who should move next, etc. After the groups have untangled, or after about 5-7 minutes, bring the class together again.
Activity 3: “Writing in Journals”
- Time: Approximately 3-5 minutes
- Grouping: Individuals
- Strategy: Written Reflection
- Administration: Student journals and pencils.
- Focus: To reflect on co-operation
Good job, everyone. Did you learn anything from that exercise about working together or compromising?
- (Allow a few, 3 or 4, students to answer.)
Write down in your journals some things that you enjoyed about that activity. Did one person take over as leader or were there several people making suggestions? Were cooperation and compromise strategies that you used in your game? Does anyone have any questions?
- (If yes, answer them.)
Okay, you have two minutes! Activity 4: “Read the Beginning”
- Time: Approximately 3 minutes
- Grouping: Whole Group
- Strategy: Listening
- Administration: The storybook
- Focus: To introduce the beginning of the story
Okay, put your journals away and come close and sit on the floor! This is “Little Mouse on the Prairie” by Stephen Cosgrove.
- (Hold up the book and show the front cover.)
This is one of Stephen Cosgrove’s Serendipity Books. Stephen Cosgrove wrote almost eighty books in his Serendipity series! I really like this one, because it has some really good themes that are quite relevant to our class.
- Teacher begins to read the story, making sure to show the pictures so that all the students can see. Read up until the line “While the other mice were playing their silly games, Tweezle Dee or, as the other mice called her, Tweeze, would work industriously doing all sorts of tedious chores.”
Activity 5: “Tableau”
- Time: Approximately 10 minutes
- Grouping: Groups of 3
- Strategy: Tableau, mime
- Administration: The storybook
- Focus: Connecting with the story, to gain commitment, to perform for a small audience
Okay, we’ll stop there for a little while. Find your own space in the room that is away from other kids in which you have room to move freely.
- [Dramatic tension of space.]
Quietly think of some chores that you have to do at home. Maybe it’s your job to set the table, or you have to make your bed. Once you think of something, begin to act it out in mime, which means without talking.
- (After a minute or two, stop the students and split them into groups of three, or if you have to, twos.)
In your groups I want you share the chore that you were acting out and show each other your action. One minute!
- (After one minute:)
Good! Now, in your group, choose one of the chores and create a frozen picture with your bodies to show off what the chore is. You may need to compromise on which chore you will choose to show. Your frozen picture is called a “tableau.” Does everyone understand? Are there any questions? You have one minute!
- Students create their tableaux and freeze. After a minute or two say:
Okay, good. Remember how your bodies are and what your pictures show and relax. Join another group near you. Choose which group is “A” and which is “B.” All A’s put up your hands.
- (They do.)
B’s put up your hands
- (They do.)
Did anyone not put up his or her hand?
- (If you have any students who do not know which group they are in, or if there is another group, have them join another pair of groups and be group “C”.)
A’s, show the B’s your tableau. Make sure you stay frozen, and don’t talk. B’s, look closely at the tableau, and make sure you are a good audience. Don’t touch the other group or try to make them laugh. Try to respect their work.
- (Have students hold the tableaux for about 30 seconds.)
Okay, B’s try and guess what the A’s were showing. A’s, if the other group can’t guess, tell them what chore you were and explain something about your tableau. B’s, if you enjoyed something about the other group’s tableau, let them know.
- (Give the groups about a minute to guess and explain.)
Okay, now B’s show the A’s your tableau.
- (Repeat the same procedure from when the A’s were performing.)
- As the students are creating their tableaux, the teacher has an opportunity for assessment. Move around the room to watch for people who are showing a great deal of focus, spontaneity, creativity, ability to stay in role, etc. Jot down some notes.
Good job everyone! We’ll stop there for today and tomorrow we will continue our story drama. Right now, just write down in your journals what your favorite part of today was and why it was your favorite.
- (Give students 2-3 minutes and move on to another subject. If you have a long block of time to devote to this drama, bring the students back together once they have written in their journals and continue.)
Activity 6: “The Letter”
- Time: Approximately 30-25 minutes
- Grouping: Whole Group, partners, individually
- Strategy: Writing in role
- Administration: The storybook, paper and pencils for each student, chart paper and markers
- Focus: To solve a problem in role; to gain commitment in the drama; to achieve the language arts PLO’s.
- Begin the day by reflecting on the last class.
Yesterday we started reading “Little Mouse on the Prairie.” Who can remember what drama activities we did? We (also made/did make) a tableaux yesterday of our chores. Does anyone have a guess as to what Tweeze’s mouse chores will be?
- (After they guess, say:)
Well, let’s find out!
- Teacher continues to read the story up until the line “They all huddled together and one of them said, ‘We must go to Tweeze, maybe she can help.'”
“Tweeze was working really hard and she had a lot of chores, but the other mice just played games. The mice that were playing all summer, laughing, and having fun are now stuck out in the cold because they didn’t prepare for the winter. They know that Tweeze is nice and warm inside her nest, and want to ask for her help to make a nest of their own. I wonder if Tweeze will help the other mice that laughed at her and played all day. What do you think? Is there a problem here?
- Students share their thoughts; if nobody comments upon it, suggest that Tweeze might not want to help the other nice after they’ve been mean to her. Then read the next page and stop at the line, “‘You should of thought of that before!’ And with that she closed the door.”
If you had worked really hard to achieve a goal and your friend played games instead of work, how willing would you be to share the rewards?
- (Give students a minute to answer.)
I might not be too willing, and neither is Tweeze. Now pretend that you are the carefree mice in the story. I know that the mice in the story walk on all fours, but you should be more like “human-mice” and you should still walk straight up on your feet. Give yourself a mouse name. Make sure that your name is something that you can be proud of and not ashamed of. You should be able to tell people your name without laughing. Now, in role, find a different partner from the human knots game and introduce yourselves. Tell your partner your name and something about your mouse-self.
- (As the students are introducing themselves, walk around the class and give each pair a piece of paper and a pencil or pen.)
While in-role, brainstorm with your partner to come up with ideas to persuade Tweeze into helping you make a comfy, warm nest. What might you offer in exchange? Could you teach her any games? If so, which? If she helps you, how can you help her? How can you compromise? Write down your ideas on your piece of paper. You have one minute!
- (Addresses Social Studies PLO of solving a problem.)
- Students talk to their partner and brainstorm for 1 minute. This plays upon the dramatic tension of time. After on minute, ask, “Is everyone finished?” If the students answer “no,” say, “Okay, one more minute!” Repeat this until the students are all ready, not longer than 3 or 4 minutes.
Okay, what did you come up with? I want at least one idea from each pair.
- (Tension of responsibility. As the students give their ideas, the teacher writes them down on chart paper, which is posted in the front of the class so that everyone can see. After each group has made a suggestion, go around again and ask if there are any other ideas.)
Now, individually in role as mice, use the ideas that you came up with to write a letter to Tweeze asking for her help through the winter. Include in your letter the ways that you will be able to help her. Maybe offer an apology for playing tricks on her. Include a good memory to remind Tweeze that you used to be very good friends. Sign the letter with your mouse name. Make sure you use your best printing. I will be taking in these letters and reading them.
- (Tension of evaluation. This is a point for assessment on language arts skills, letter writing or printing skills and also on the social studies PLO of creating a solution to a problem. Is there a solution? Did the student make an effort to reach a solution/suggest a fair compromise?)
- Students, individually write their letters to Tweeze. Give them about 8-10 minutes to write.
Okay, turn to the person next to you, and if you haven’t already introduced your mouse character, please do that and share your letter with your neighbor.
- Students share their letters for a maximum of 3 minutes.
I can tell that you are all excited about your letters. Can I have some volunteers to read their letters to the class? I will remind everyone to be a very good audience member and to respect whomever is reading his or her letter because it is not easy for everyone to present in front of big group like us. Who would like to volunteer?
- Allow all the students who want to read to present their letters to the class. When they have finished, collect the letters and thank all the presenters for their bravery.
I know we had a lot of writing today, but while it is fresh in your mind, please write a few sentences in your journals about our activities today. What did you enjoy, what didn’t you enjoy. It is okay if you didn’t enjoy everything! Then we will be finished for today and we’ll finish our drama tomorrow.
Activity 7: “Reflect on Yesterday”
- Time: Approximately 5 minutes
- Grouping: Whole Group
- Strategy: Reflection
- Administration: None
- Focus: To bring students back into the story
- As at the beginning of day two, begin the day by reflecting on the last class. Ask volunteers to remember what they enjoyed from yesterday. Ask them if they remember the key questions from day one. If the students can’t remember, remind them.
So as you said, yesterday we wrote letters to Tweeze asking for her help. You had some really good suggestions and compromises to persuade Tweeze to help you build a nest. Let’s finish the story and see what happens. Activity 8: “Our Stories”
- Time: Approximately 30-35 minutes
- Grouping: Whole Group
- Strategy: Listening, story writing
- Administration: The story, pencils, paper, pencil crayons
- Focus: To finish the story. To write one’s own story of compromise
- Read the end of the story.
So Tweeze and the other mice found a good balance between work and play, and they learned how to compromise and work together. Try to remember back to when we began this story drama and I asked you if you had any stories of compromise. Now that we have finished reading about Tweezle Dee and the other mice, we will write and illustrate our own stories of working together and compromising. Each of you will have one page to write and illustrate your own story about compromise. You may write a non-fiction story, which means a story that really happened, or you can write a fictional story, which would be a story that you make up. But the theme of your story is to be about working together. When we are all finished writing and illustrating our stories, we will put them together into a book and I will make a copy for each of you to take home. Use your very best printing again to write your story, as your parents will want to keep this book for a long time.
- Give the students at least 20 minutes to write and illustrate their stories and then when everyone is finished, go about ordering the stories in the finished book. Stress the importance of working together and compromise in the ordering process and encourage several people to speak up if they have an idea as to how the stories should go together. Then have all the students work together to name the book and draw the cover. You may want to have an “ordering committee,” a “naming committee” and a “cover art committee” to make this task more manageable. This final activity encompasses the drama PLO’s of demonstrating respect for the contributions of others and demonstrating co-operative effort in dramatic work, and also the language arts PLO’s of writing with the strategy of setting a purpose and writing while identifying an audience. Also, by giving the student only one page, they are inhibited by the dramatic tension of constraint.
- After everything is finished, thank the students for their effort and hard work in the story drama.
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