Our ten day residency program for schools, Concepts at Play provides a unique opportunity for students to use acting games and theatre exercises to explore other subjects, such as math, science, and poetry. The fifth grade students of Henry Ford Elementary School in Redwood City participated in the science portion of Concepts at Play, entitled Playing with Science.
Teaching artist Maryssa Wanlass leads an Open Workshop of Playing with Science with the fifth grade students of Redwood City’s Henry Ford Elementary School.
Playing with Science introduces students to basic elements of performance through vocal, movement, and imagination exercises while seeking to develop a positive group dynamic within the classroom. The residency at Henry Ford culminated in an Open Workshop performance for family, friends, and other students, in which the fifth graders demonstrated short scenes about the water cycle, played movement and vocal games in which cloud patterns were acted out, and performed a short play based off of Percy Shelley’s poem, The Cloud.
“Concepts at Play is a program that will allow students to have more confidence and self-esteem in the classroom. Teachers have noticed that their students have come together more as an ensemble because they’ve had a chance to get to know each other in a different way after our residency. Concepts at Play can set the tone for that classroom for the entire school year.” Katie Bartholomew, Associate Education Director-Schools
Each residency varies according to grade level and common core standards. Past Playing with Science curriculum has ranged from life and natural sciences to the systems of the human body to astronomy.
According to Bartholomew: “We’ve done assessments which have shown a vocabulary increase from 35% to 85% following Concepts at Play because students are working to understand vocabulary and different science concepts with their bodies. Not only are they learning the definition, but they have a movement and a sound that goes along with that.”
In addition, Concepts at Play addresses different learning styles among students. “It is for all students and all learners, not just those who learn kinesthetically, visually, or audibly. One activity may focus on movement, another may focus on the imagination, giving students multiple options.”, says Bartholomew.
The students demonstrate a movement exercise in which they create different types of storms.
While the specific academic curriculum provides vocabulary and adheres to the Common Core guidelines, Concepts at Play also provides a unique introduction to performing arts. “This program allows students to perform without necessarily having to be in a play by placing them onstage in front of an audience. Every day of the residency, we always begin the students’ warm up with the introduction to the actor’s toolbox, where we have our body, voice, and imagination. Those are the tools that actors need to do their job on stage as well as in Concepts at Play.”, says Bartholomew.