Dacha commented on last week's blog and asked:
I see in the last scene that you have all the kids on stage, but in between performances are by age/level group. Do you calculate in any way how much time for each group of students (total): 1 or 2 skits per group or something like that? I see that you've used a theme- a central topic to unify everything- "Aladdin". Why did you choose it? And could you tell us what is your theme this year, please :)?
Thanks for your comments, and let me answer here:
In Japanese Schools "Tatewari" is very common, and I'am using it for my own school since 2, 3 years.
"Tatewari" kind of translates as "Length cut"; what it means is, that not only the parallel classes (of one grade) exchange and work together, but the classes from the lowest to the highest grade of a school do so.
So if there are for example 3 parallel classes per grade, for certain occasions 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A mingle and work together and exchange.
I like this idea, because different ages can learn so much from each other.
So, what I do is, I split up the students of my school (about 70) into two groups, length cut. (So, the group you see in the end altogether on stage is half of the number of my students, not all of them)
This way, I have about 35 kids between 5 and 12year olds in each group.
For the same age group I use the same topics, skits, songs to play.
This is very time saving for me, as with 8 classes I would need 8 topics for a performance, if I'd have them all go on stage in one session.
But this way I need only 4 topics.
Kids and parents from group A come in the morning, B in the afternoon.
Though the parents won't see all of my classes, they see one cycle of ages and a development and contrast between 2nd graders and 3rd graders for example.
They love to see smaller kids, as they are so cute to watch, but they also love to watch older kids, as it gives them an idea of what I am aiming at and where their own kids will be 1, 2, years from now.
I usually do 1 skit per group; a fairytale or a picture book or a project we did so far, as a basic topic.
I write the skits myself (or have the kids create them with my help), and I add lots of songs, dances, traditional handclapping games, etc etc into each skit.
In last years performance you can see we did
"Down down baby" handclapping,
"The cup song"
"Marry you" as a dance
As I have 4 classes to perform and I want the show to finish within 90 minutes, including warm-up songs/games WITH the parents, and a bit of talk of my own, I make each skit about 15 minutes. Younger kids 10, older ones 20 minutes.
Within each skit, I try to get equal performing time per kid; but some are just not up for this yet, so I push everyone enough to grow beyond where they are now, but softly, not to break down their motivation.
One girl just doesn't want to go on stage right now, so she gets other tasks to do that help everyone, and she is learning with us during class time.
I must say, I am not such a huge Disney Fan, but I was always fascinated by 1000 and 1 night stories, Sindbad, ...
I find Aladdin very suitable for English lessons as it gets out the creativity of kids, a magic carpet a magic lamp, flying around the world and watching different countries. So, I've always used it for crafts and projects. It is just beautiful and simple.
For example I had them draw a magic carpet (via a special technique), that would take them to Russia and France, because we were exchanging with kids there, via video letter and Skype.
In the performance we actually also had the presentation on this, as it wasn't on the video Dacha mentioned above, here is one of the links:
Also, I often do popular songs with the kids in between, me playing the guitar. "A whole new world" has been very popular since many years with my students, so I had had the idea to create a musical.
Last year I looked for some Aladdin readers, and had my kids read it first, then I wrote a script along the story, adding all the music, dances, etc I could think of.
I decided which class should do the Aladdin , and then I tried to adjust a few GE songs so that they would fit the topic and my small kids could join.
This way I could have them exchange not only at the performance but also during class time, watch each other, giving feed back , etc.
It was fun to watch my 5 year olds, who had just started English, laugh about the Genie's poem, understanding what he was saying.
I will write more about this year's topic in another mail, but you can be sure my kids will pioneer some new materials.