The Story /
I use this lesson with my Kindergarten and Jr. Kindergarten classes, often
as the first lesson in which we use our whole bodies to create drama.
(I usually start out using hands and face alone.) It is a narrative
pantomime--a story which is told by the leader and enacted by the students
individually. I start with this activity partly because it allows
a very full range of movement and physical sensation while keeping the
students anchored to their respective spots on the floor--it takes us a
while to build the kind of safe environment in which it is wise to have
them moving all at once--and partly because the Jr. Kindergarten's thematic
approach focuses on Apples in September, when I begin with new students.
The main focus here is on creating real sensory experience from the imagination.
My students really enjoy it, and it seems to connect for them on a very
visceral level. Here it is:
* Personal space is a concept all of our students learn in gym, so I use
it. It just means find a space in which you can turn around with
outstretched arms and not touch anyone.
(Be sure to narrate this story slowly enough, and with appropriate pauses,
so that the students are able to fully experience their own physical discoveries
as they enact the story.)
Everyone find your own personal space* on the floor and make yourself as
small as possible.
You are an apple seed, crammed tightly into your hard seed pod, and buried
under the cold ground. It is winter, and you are barely awake.
Above you, snow covers the ground. It is totally dark under the ground.
Now it is spring. The earth around you is growing a little warmer,
and you start to feel more awake. The snow above you melts and the
water soaks into the earth around you. It feels good. The earth
feels warmer, and you seem to be able to pull energy out of the soil.
It is time to come out of your seed pod. You feel strong and energetic.
Using all your strength, you push up against your seed pod and break through,
like a bird breaks out of the egg. You reach upwards into the warm
earth with your tendrills. The earth around you is moist, and you
soak in the life-giving moisture. You don't know why, but you know
you want to push upwards.
Finally, with one great push, you emerge from the soil and see, for the
first time, the SUN!
The sun's energy flows into you and you feel stronger and stronger.
You stretch upwards and outwards until you are a healthy seedling.
The gentle spring rains nourish and refresh you. Just take a moment
to enjoy it.
(Take a longer pause here.)
Now let's move ahead a few years. You have grown into a strong young
sapling--a tree about the size of a young person. You have beautiful
green leaves that soak up the sun and make you strong. But you want
to grow taller. You want to be a tree. So you summon all your
energy and you push out and up. As the years go by you become a strong,
handsome apple tree. You stand proud in the sun and enjoy your own
strength and beauty.
Now it is fall. You have grown succulent, nourishing apples all over
your strong branches. The apples contain seeds which might someday
become new apple trees. The apples are heavy. Your branches
are strong, but there are so many apples. You feel weighed down.
You feel as if your branches might break.
Here come some children. You can't talk to them, but you know they
are coming for the apples. They have bushel baskets. They are
laughing and singing. The children pick your apples, and your branches
feel light. You know they will take them away and eat them.
You know they will throw away the seeds, and that some of those seeds might
grow to be new apple trees.
Almost all of your apples are gone. But you know you will grow more
next year. You feel grateful to those children. You hope they
will enjoy the apples.
(Take a longer pause here.)
Now it is winter. All of your leaves have fallen. But you know
you will grow more next spring. Now it is time to rest. You
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After the story is done, I ask my students questions about the experience.
I focus on "how did it feel" questions, and when, as invariably happens,
the students have clear answers to these questions, I use this to demonstrate
how powerful is the imagination. Below are some sample questions.
(Note: In each case, the first question is the important one.
I ask that question and get as many original responses as I can.
Only if necessary do I then coach by asking the follow-up questions.)
(Clearly these are only a few of the questions you could ask.)
How did you feel when you first broke through the seed pod? Who felt
a sense of accomplishment? Did anyone feel a little afraid?
What was it like when you first saw the sun? How many were happy?
How many were proud?
How did it feel to become a big strong tree?
How did you feel when the children picked your apples?
Most of you felt a very strong emotion when you first saw the sun.
How is that possible, since we were all right here in the classroom and
the sun doesn't even shine in here?
What part of your mind did you use to see the sun?
Did you know your imagination was so powerful?
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