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Articles About Storytelling

Lesson Plan: Telling Greek Myths
By: Patti J. Christensen

The following is a lesson plan that I used with 4th grade students during a five week series on drama and storytelling. It is an example of how I use drama techniques to bring to life a story that many students are familiar with. This is the final lesson of the series.


Overview:
The grand finale’ will be dramatizing Greek myths. We will talk about how props can add to a play. We will review the history of Greek drama as well as the dramatic techniques we have learned. We perform, learn about theater and film awards, and "take a bow".


Materials Needed:
Definitions of new vocabulary words (see below)
A trophy or award
Chart: It takes many people to make a play or a movie
Chart: What we learned today
Rhythm instruments to use as sound effects
Two sets of props: one normal and one spray painted gold, each including :
a necklace or other gift, a glass, a plate or tray. Can also add things such as sunglasses, silverware, etc. Can also use a gold shirt or jacket, and a crown and wizard hat as costumes


Story:
Adapted from King Midas, Greek Myth any version
Three I like are The Adventures of King Midas by Lynne Reid Banks, 1993, King Midas and the Golden Touch by Charlotte Craft, 1999,
or King Midas with Selected Sentences in American Sign
Language by Nathaniel Hawthorn, 1999


Objectives:
• Use bodies to move as objects, animals or people observed.
• Develop role playing and characterization skills. Arrange objects in a variety of settings to provide a stage for dramatization.
• View and discuss dramatizations that reflect cultural traditions.
• Develop and use simple props. Use costumes and simple props to encourage experimentation and provide stimuli for characterization.
• Discuss and examine all elements of an effective production. Explain the functions of scenery, properties, lighting, sound, costumes and make-up. Describe how they work together to create a dramatic setting.
• Use group improvisation to tell stories.


Vocabulary:


prop n.
1. An article, except costumes and scenery, that appears on the stage
or on screen during a dramatic performance.


myth n.
1. A traditional ancient story dealing with supernatural beings,
ancestors, or heroes.
2. Not true, imaginary.


Midas n.
1. (Greek legend) The greedy king who had the power to turn
everything he touched into gold.


director n.
1. A person who supervises the play or film and instructs the actors and
crew.


Oscar n .
1. An annual award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences for achievements in movies.


Background Information:
King Midas and the Golden Touch is one of the most familiar of the Greek Myths. It is likely that there was a historical character named King Midas. We don’t know much about his life. The other myth about King Midas was that he had the ears of a goat. There are also many versions of that story that you might want to read and share.


This lesson also focuses on the different roles that it takes to present a dramatic production. This discussion seems to be most effective to have immediately after you have created a rather complex play together.


Procedure:
1. Talk about the history of Greek theater. Not only did Aesop write his fables in Greece, but it was the place that many of the first great plays were written and performed.


2. Discuss and define "myth".


3. Assign or ask for volunteers for the following parts:
* People to play rhythm instruments to make sound effects
* King Midas
* The Wizard
* King’s daughter
The people in the castle. (If possible, everyone else can be people in the
castle. These students can choose other specific roles such as
princesses, soldiers, ladies in waiting, servants, etc.)


4. Narrate the "King Midas" story giving the actors and sound people directions, but also soliciting improvisation in dialogue and actions.
Early on you might get cries of recognition that they have heard this story. Acknowledge these, and continue. Use your pairs of "normal" and "golden" props to show what happened when King Midas touched each item. Choose students to be various of the King’s friends bringing him the props (a necklace as a present, a glass of milk because he is thirsty, a plate of food because he is hungry.) Have the class help the daughter by all becoming frozen statues together once she was touched by the King. Following the story, have everyone take a bow and return to their seats.


5. Define "props" and discuss the role of props in the play. In a play or a movie, would they use REAL gold to tell this story? Probably not. Give or ask for examples of types of props.


6. Praise the class for their production. Then say "What if next week a Hollywood producer came to this class and said ’That was so excellent, we’d like to hire this class to make "King Midas" into a movie.’ If you were going to make this into a movie, what different jobs would we need people to do?" (You may immediately get people raising their hands to do these jobs.
Clarify that right now we are just thinking of what kinds of jobs we would need people to do.)


Begin brainstorming and discussing some of the important jobs or roles. (You may want to record these on the board.) Point out in the play today, you acted as the "director". Encourage the class to be quite broad with their thoughts, such as "What will all those people eat? Or how will the actors know what they are supposed to say? Why might someone need to be good at math to make a movie?" There may be great range in terms of level of sophistication regarding the entertainment industry. When you have completed the brainstorming, share the list below that another class came up with. Which of them did your class name?


Chart:
It takes many people to make a play or a movie:
* Director
* Sound Person
* Light Person
* Actors
* Extras
* Carpenters
* Writers
* Computer people
* Make-up artists
* Costume designers
* Camera operators
* Assistants
* Set designers


7. If you have brought in a trophy, show it now. Or you can ask if students know what an "Oscar" or "Academy Award" is. Define. Discuss that even though we often think that only the actors and directors are important, when they give out awards for the best movies or plays, they give them for lighting, sound, set design ,and costumes, etc.


Maybe someday we will see the students’ names at the end of a movie or in the program for a play. Many people in this class have a lot of talent that they could use in drama.


8. Review
Chart:
What we learned today:
It takes many people to make a play or a movie.


There are special awards that people get for doing a really good job making a movie or a play.


People have been acting out plays and telling stories for thousands of years.


The Greeks were some of the first people to write plays


New Words:
Myth
Props
Oscar
Midas
Director


9. End with applause, standing ovation, sign language applause-thank you in ASL, taking a bow.


Assessment:
Students are able to define myth.
Students can name a number of jobs there are in putting on a play or movie.
Students can discuss the role of "props" in a dramatic production.
Students can identify King Midas and the Golden Touch.
Students can describe theater and film awards.


Integration/Correlation/Extension/Modifications:
If having everyone is the class up front all at once is too chaotic or over stimulating for your class, you can simplify the play and call up volunteers just for the main parts. (Skip the sound effects.) You can change who is playing King Midas, the daughter and the Wizard a number of times.

You may want to read or research other Greek myths. Two favorite books are Greek Myths for Young Children by Marcia Williams and Favorite Greek Myths by Bob Blaisdell, 1996. Read, discuss or act out other Greek myths.

If possible, tape a portion of an awards show to play for the class. Discuss what they notice from watching the video.

Create props for this story in class. You may want to make things and then spray paint them gold. (The teacher is the only one to use the spray paint). Or cut objects out of gold paper.

Watch a portion of a movie. Talk about what props would have had to be made or gathered to make this movie.

Perform of learn the ASL signs from King Midas with Selected Sentences in American Sign Language.

Author Information:
Name: Patti J. Christensen
Website: http://www.storyteller.net/tellers/p_christensen
The contents expressed in any article on Storyteller.net are solely the opinion of author.


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