Hold on to your hats and get ready for a surprising new teaching tool: musical plays for kids!
Drama for kids has progressed past "Oklahoma". I'm talking about "Rumpus in the Rainforest", "Character Matters", and "Hansel and Gretel Eat Right". These are musical plays written just for kids, with funny scripts, kid-friendly music, and loads of curriculum-friendly facts and information.
When I led these plays with my group of 50+ kids, I was blown away by how music helped them read more fluently, boosted their confidence, and helped them memorize new information. The kids couldn't get enough of practicing their lines, and the songs were positively addictive.
The genius company behind these plays for kids is Bad Wolf Press, led by Ron Fink and John Heath. These two wacky guys make school subjects fun and unforgettable. Ron generously agreed to answer a few interview questions.
K: Why do you think kids learn so well through your plays?
R: Stories are easier to remember than lists of facts, and music and rhymes make is easier to remember details. Our "secret formula" is: Great Story + Catchy Music + Clever Rhymes + Goofy Jokes = Subject Mastery.
K: What do you most enjoy about putting together a new play?
R: I love coming up with ideas for a new story. I generally email John five to ten possible stories, and most are
really dumb! There's an incredible freedom to just make stuff up and not worry if I'm
getting it right.
I also really like writing the music. I'll work on several songs at a time--I do one until I get stuck, and jump to another melody to see if I can get anywhere with that. It's a strange feeling to realize that these songs I'm banging out in my living room will actually be sung by thousands of children within a couple of months.
K: First graders have pretty basic reading skills. Do you have suggestions for teaching songs and scripts to younger kids?
R: Make sure the play is easy enough for your kids. Look at the preview on the website and ask yourself, can my kids pull this off? Put the songs on chart paper and touch the words as you sing. Kids will walk by, touch some words and sing a bit. Later, when kids are ready to learn their lines, you can give them just their section of the script to read.
K: Is there anything you would like to say to folks who are thinking of using Bad Wolf plays with their kids?
R: This is very important: Don't try to make everything perfect! It's about process, not product. You can do most of the shows right in your classroom. It's better to do three quick plays in a year than one big, stress-inducing performance.
K: Do you have a success story you would like to share?
R: Teachers have been telling us their success stories for the last 16 years! One that came recently was from a teacher in an inner-city school. They were doing our conflict resolution show and at recess, when one student got mad about something, others sang, "You Gotta Calm Down", which apparently worked.
From my own experience, I can't recommend these plays enough. Your first graders will learn with their whole bodies, laugh, sing, and beg for more--never suspecting all the learning that is going on!
You can preview their music and plays for kids at www.badwolfpress.com.