After some initial miscommunication between our program and the school and then missing the next week due to President's Day, Brigitte and I finally started teaching the Playwriting Class to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. About fifteen kids--mostly girls--showed up on the first day, though apparently there'll be a few more next time. They were really cute and they seemed really excited about being in the class. We started off the class by giving them folders, having them write their name, grade, favorite subjects and what types of stories they like on a flashcard and then asking them to read what they wrote down to the class. I explained that they were practicing reading aloud because plays are built on dialogue between characters and they would be reading aloud each other's work.
After that, we read a short play "Who Wears the Necklace Now," which was based on a Kenyan folktale. I assigned parts and the readers--that included almost everyone in the class--sat in chairs in the front of the room. It took a lot longer to read the play than I thought, but they definitely had fun. Several of them really got into reading their parts. The girl who read for the antelope was sad after we finished because the antelope was tricked and then was eaten by the hyenas. I think I cheered her up a little when I told her that it was just a play and that she read the part really well.
Anyway, we ended by breaking the class into two discussion groups, one led by me and the other led by Brigitte. In our group we talked about what they thought of the play, which characters were good and bad and why, what the characters were trying to achieve, the format of plays, and the setting. One girl asked when we were putting on the play, so I said we would be writing our own plays instead. I guess she didn't realize what playwriting meant, but she got really excited and started telling me about how she comes up with play ideas all the time when she plays with her toys.
I really enjoyed the first day of teaching. Everything went pretty smoothly and the kids were well-behaved and enthusiastic.