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Let the Show Begin! Literary Talent Show
|Grades||K – 6|
|Activity Time||2 to 3 hours for Part One of preparation, 2 to 3 hours for Part Two of preparation, plus time to perform the talent show (can be worked on for multiple days)|
- Favorite song (with lyrics printed out if possible), dance, poem, or story for each child
- Art supplies (materials to make costumes and props such as old clothes and hats, glitter, feathers, construction paper, glue, tape, stapler, scissors, any other supplies you can think of)
- Paper for the programs (This might be notebook paper, unlined printer paper, and/or construction paper.)
- Writing utensils (pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc.)
- Song lyrics website (optional)
- Sample theater programs (optional)
Part One: Selecting Materials & Discussing Texts:
- Have each child choose his or her favorite song, dance poem, or story. It will be important for the text to be in front of each child, so for songs, you might search online for lyrics if they aren’t readily available. If children want to choose a poem or story and have trouble choosing, you might ask them to choose their favorite Dr. Seuss or Mother Goose story or Shel Silverstein poem to help them narrow it down.
- Share with the children that they will act out their chosen song, dance, poem, or story in a talent show for friends and family. Let them know that they will have a chance to make costumes and props and will think up dance moves to go along with their chosen texts if they want to. You might show them a clip as an example of how a story might be acted out.
- Give each child a piece of paper, and ask them to read their texts and copy their favorite lines, images, or events from their chosen texts that they want to pay the most attention to during their skits. (For younger participants who aren’t proficient at writing yet, you might make a copy of their song, poem, or story and allow them to underline their favorite parts.)
- Help each child decide which characters, settings, conflicts, and events are important if their texts tell a story. If their songs or poems are more lyrical and less story-like, help them choose important rhythms, rhymes, and images to focus on during their skits. Discuss what the audience will need to know and want to see during the talent show.
- Will some texts need more than one child to act them out?
- What kinds of costumes and props will work best for each text?
- Should children bring the song, poem, or story with them during the talent show to more easily remember lines?
- Will dancing help audience members follow songs and poems better?
- What hand motions might help the audience enjoy a song or poem?
- Are there objects in the text that children might be able to turn into props for their skits?
- What materials might they use to make objects from their songs, poems, or stories?
Part Two: Preparing for the Show:
- After brainstorming ideas about how the children might act out or perform their texts, give them art supplies to start creating costumes and props.
- Give them time to practice their dancing, singing, or acting.
- Children will need to decide who should go first. They might simplify this by alternating between genres: song, dance, story, poem, song, dance, story, poem….
- Once an order has been chosen, someone should make a list of each child’s name and the song, poem, or story each one will perform in the correct order so the children can reference it while they create programs.
- Give children paper and something to write with so they can create programs. Explain that a program tells the audience who will be in the show, what they will perform, and in what order they will perform. (If children would like to see an example, show them some sample theater programs.) One way to make programs is to fold a piece of plain paper in half from top to bottom so that it opens like a book. Children can write on the inside pages and decorate the outside page as the cover. Instead of using the outside of the computer paper as the cover, they might add a piece of folded construction paper to the outside, making the construction paper the cover. They can use tape or a stapler to bind the two pieces of paper together. (For children with limited writing capabilities, you might lightly trace the words into the program and ask them to write over them in a color of their choice, or ask an older child to help younger children with this.)
- Give children a few minutes to get into their costumes and organize their props.
- Have fun performing for friends and family!
- Turn the talent show into a musical extravaganza! Help children make their own instruments using things around the house (For example, this website has directions for how to make a cereal box guitar). Or, kids can make a maraca using a bottle, can, jar, or canister along with dry beans or rice. After they have assembled their instruments, encourage them to write and perform their own songs.
- Open Mic Show! Encourage children to use their favorite songs, poems, and stories as examples to write and perform their own pieces just like performance artists do in coffee houses all over the country.
- Read a book about performing for inspiration. For example, A Dance Like Starlight is about the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, and how she worked to make her dreams come true. Find A Dance Like Starlight at your local library or online at www.wegivebooks.org. Create a free account by clicking "Join" at the top of the homepage. Once logged in, click "Read" in the top header and then search for the title you'd like to read online, A Dance Like Starlight.