Classroom Activities For School Musicals
When you decide to stage a school musical, the entire enterprise can generate so much interest and enthusiasm from pupils that it would feel rather a missed opportunity not to harness this energy for other areas of learning. Subjects such as English, History, Art, Music, Drama and PSHE all lend themselves to such an approach, but with a bit of inventiveness, even Science, Mathematics and Geography lessons offer relevant learning opportunities and oodles of fun.
Write All About It
School musicals are packed with characters, themes, moods and storylines, providing an abundance of writing opportunities. Pupils could write an additional scene for the play, a piece of descriptive writing bringing to life one of the settings, or a spin-off story focusing on one or two of the minor characters.
Alternatively, invite pupils to write a letter persuading people to watch the play, to donate to the raffle or to compliment a successful performance.
Read Between The Lines
Close reading of any text helps pupils to infer meaning and develop understanding. Pupils could profile particular characters and their journey through the course of the play, or examine the language of one of the parts to identify what it tells us about them. Alternatively, ask them to analyse the rhymes and structures of the lyrics of certain songs, perhaps before coming up with their own!
Make Your Mark
When it comes to musicals for schools, art, perhaps more than any other, is the perfect platform for further exploration. There are props to be made, costumes to be designed, hair-styles to be conceived, face-paints to be practised, programmes to be made, posters to be created. But even beyond these, why not sketch out characters using different materials or techniques, or create comic strips for the funny or dramatic scenes.
Music lessons need not be dominated by practising the songs, especially if there is a separate rehearsal schedule for the play. Instead, use the musical as a stimulus for exploring different styles of music, different rhythms, different instrumentation. Ask pupils to create excerpts which echo one of the songs, or write a new opening sequence for the beginning of the musical. You could even provide the lyrics of one of the songs and invite pupils to come up with alternative tunes.
Got Your Number
Maths may seem a million miles from the world of the school musical, but with the children caught up in the excitement of the production, it provides the perfect opportunity to show them how relevant and useful maths is in so many situations. From looking at area to calculate different stage dimensions, time to calculate the intervals between songs, or money to work out projected sales depending on audience composition, maths topics can be woven into pretty much any area of the production. You could even create graphs to show the number of characters in each of the scenes.
Go Back In Time
History should be one of the most exciting subjects that pupils can study, but still suffers because it is so often taught through text books alone. Why not explore the historical/social context of the musical in the most active way possible? Acting out and improvising scenes, exploring real-life characters from the same time-period, or re-enacting battles will all engage pupils, especially if you can link the work closely to the play. The more drama you can bring to history and the more involved the students get, the more likely they are to remember it.
But Above All This
… a school musical is about enabling personal growth; it’s about providing the right environment to enable all pupils to develop confidence and a real sense of worth. The interpersonal skills that children can learn through the course of a school musical, not to mention understanding the real value of teamwork, will stand them in good stead for years to come and has proven to aid their progress in other areas of school life too.
See our blog on School Musicals CAN Be All-Inclusive to explore this further.