Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Sessions 11 & 12 – Wednesday 3rd & Thursday 4th April 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

This was a very exciting week. The children had developed their play ideas with Lucy in the previous week, so on Wednesday we did some script feedback and each group finished writing as many scenes as they could. Then the children were able to “put the scenes up on the floor”  which means they started to rehearse them in order to try out the dialogue and see if the action they had written was working.

We did notice that some funny bits in some plays were distracting from the story and it was suggested that “going for the gag” doesn’t always work for the play overall. And tough as it was, I was impressed to see that that note was taken.

So at this point some changes were made. Some additional dialogue or action was also needed in places, so this was improvised and then added to the script – this is very much like what might happen in a theatre when working on a new play.


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At the end of the session the groups discussed props and costumes for the next day and considered any sound effects. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing and it was very exciting to watch the bustle of activity.


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The next day the children were rehearsing before I even arrived and had brought in all the things they needed to present each play. So, in the first part of the session, they rehearsed like mad and each group showed me what they had, and I was able to give them some final tips and suggestions before the groups performed the plays.


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After the break we pushed all the desks to the back of the room and set up the chairs to face in one direction, making our own theatre in the classroom. Then one after another – in a very organised manner – each group did their “get in” and set up the stage, presented their play and did their “get out” for the next group. Lucy was on sound effects as well as being the videographer!


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And what a wonderful morning of new theatre we had – entirely created by the class. The plays were all funny, interesting and very dramatic, with really nice performances and technical work and great commitment from everyone.

FOR VIDEO OF EACH PLAY – follow the link + password below

TEENS FIND YEARBOOK IN DITCH                                (Password: BETC5TeensFindYearbook)

TEDDY COMES TO LIFE WHEN PET FUR SEWN INSIDE                                    (Password: BETC5TeddyComesToLife)

FAMILY DOG SAVES BOY FROM HOUSE FIRE                                  (Password: BETC5FamilyDogSavesBoy)

EXPLOSION IN TEDDY EMPORIUM                                  (Password: BETC5ExplosionInTeddyEmporium)

PHOTO OF MISSING GIRL IN ABANDONED HOUSE PART 1, 2 & 3                                  (Password: BETC5MissingGirl1)                                  (Password: BETC5MissingGirl2)                                    (Password: BETC5MissingGirl3)

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It was a really lovely culmination of our time together and I was so impressed and inspired by the enthusiasm and the creativity of the class. (Michelle)

Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 10 – Wednesday 20th March 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

This week we brainstormed the headlines that each group had picked last week and the class asked lots of questions about each headline to see what they could find out.

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The questions started to suggest different story ideas and each group then had to think about what the story might be… so what could happen and who the characters might be.

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As well as writing these ideas, another approach was to “storyboard” the ideas by drawing a picture for each part of the story. This can really help to show the dramatic action, and this technique is used in film and animation before the script gets written. It can be very helpful to imagine the story visually and this can then help with writing the scenes.

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The children then took their written ideas and their storyboards and from both sources they started to create scene ideas for their plays.


Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 9 – Wednesday 13th March 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

In this session the children re-formed their groups and discussed all their headlines. They then had to chose one that they thought offered the most options in terms of characters and story, as well as keeping in mind that over the next few weeks they’re going to develop the story and create dramatic scenes for each group to perform.

The headlines chosen were…






We also discussed what characters might exist in each story and what some of the interesting considerations might be. In one story there is a teddy that comes to life, so it would be a character, and how would be portray that on stage? We discussed that it might be a puppet. We also talked about the dog and that if it was played by a person, the play might be more cartoon-like, but that it could also be a puppet. I talked about using puppet dogs in a show I had written for adults. The puppets were in fact only the heads of the dogs which were operated by a puppeteer-actor, meanwhile the barking was created by another actor with a microphone.

Toxic 13 Hector at drug factory.jpg

Here’s a picture of Hector the dog. It’s a bit hard to see him in this photo, but he’s made of wire with some papier maché over the top. We decided to leave him only half finished, and only a head because he became very real with only those small indications and it seemed to work really well. I think that’s the big difference between film and theatre – if the performance is strong enough, everyone in the audience “fills in the blanks” in their mind and sees an Alsation.

We also talked about sound effects and how effective they can be in creating an atmosphere on stage, which was something we noticed from the play in the Ark.

This is the link to the BBC Sound Archive, which has thousands of sounds that can be downloaded for free…

And here are some sound effects from the site (I think, if the links work!). There are two clips of fire and one clip of an ambulance driving towards an emergency.

FIRE 1 –

FIRE 2 –




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Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 8 – Thursday 7th March 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

This week’s session was inspired by our trip to the Ark and the play we saw, which involved the characters digging up objects and figuring about what they were… and possibly also what they might have meant to someone. In the play Ray dug up a milk carton and a crisp packet, which might not have meant much to anyone, but then he dug up an old action man, which could have been a treasured toy, and he also found an animal skull and a pet’s collar… which was probably someone’s pet!

So this week the children brought in their own significant objects. A thing that was important to them in some way. I also brought in some of my important objects to share and I asked the children to look at each of my objects and describe them in an objective way. So we talked about what an objective, fact-based description was, and then I also talked about each object from a personal, or what’s called a subjective point of view. I explained my experience of each object and my feelings about them – things that are not true for someone else. So, my tree cone from Australia, which is objectively brown and oval-shaped, is also subjectively beautiful to me and a reminder of my trip to Australia.

I then asked the children to think about their own objects – to draw them and to write about them – and to think about them both objectively and subjectively. I realised as myself and Lucy checked in with everyone, that it’s actually quite hard to be objective about an object that you know well and like a lot. It’s as if, your familiarity and feelings about the object, stop you seeing it objectively! Perhaps because the object stops being just a thing and starts to contain other meanings. And that these new personal meanings become activated whenever we see or touch the object again.

Is this true, do we think?

Next, I asked the children to work at creating a news headline for their object that started with, or included an objective description, but perhaps also contained something subjective, and also added something imagined or invented to raise the stakes and make it newsworthy.  I used my tree cone as an example and have developed my idea a bit here…



Because this object reminds me of my friend in Australia (my subjective experience) and because parts of it look like tiny lips (a subjective description), I’ve included those elements, alongside the objective description to create my invented headline. Basically I’m using my objective and subjective understanding PLUS my imagination to try and come up with a story idea…   (Michelle)


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Here are some headlines the children came up with for their objects;

“First time artist wins prize and bests Picasso!”

“Brave family dog saves child from house fire!”

“Big stubborn dog makes owner feel clever.”

“Colourful South African doll makes niece feel very happy.”

“Amazingly fast girl wins medal as expected.”

“Huge explosion at Teddy Emporium – only one teddy survives!”

“Liverpool get sensational 3-0 win – Irish boy invade pitch with excitement!”

“Bracelet worn by flower girl has diamond originally found on Moon!”

“Teddy comes to life when owner sews in pet fur!”

“Tiny necklace charm made of a new kind of stone.”



Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 7 – Thursday 28th February 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting


This week we went to the Ark Theatre to see a new play for children by Kate Heffernan called Peat. Here’s a short clip of the two actors talking about the play… very intriguing.

It was a really great experience to walk through Temple Bar today to the theatre from the LUAS, and then to see a really, really interesting play. What a great morning. We managed to have a short chat about it afterwards, but we might come back to it next week, because there was so much going on in terms of the things we have been exploring….

Characters and Character Traits – the two boys in the play were called Ray and Joe and they were best friends, so they had a lot in common, but they also had quite different personalities, and Joe also had an emotional thing going on during the play. The children noticed that Ray was quite impatient with Joe about this and determined to get Joe to take action, that he didn’t want to take.

This story, because it was a drama,  was of course, told through Dialogue. The children commented that some of the dialogue seemed really natural and chatty and funny, and the characters also included us in their conversation, but then other parts of the script were suddenly different and we noticed that was signalled by the lights changing the music becoming ‘darker and louder’. So the sound and lighting design became part of the story telling too.

We also chatted about the Set Design, which used film projection sometimes to show a real peat bog, but which also had more non-realistic parts to it – like the bog being inside a giant cardboard box on a table. Also all the objects that Ray found in the bog were displayed and lit up on tiny tables around the stage, like in a mini museum. And there was an overhead projector and a bucket of water that Joe used so that we could all figure out what each new thing was that had been unearthed from the bog. So the Set Design helped us to be involved in the same activity as the two boys and we could help them to figure out what they had dug up.

In the end Joe does agree to bury the thing he needs to bury and both boys get to go on home for their tea, but not before wondering, after they had been excavating the past, what might be in store for them in the future…


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I enjoyed the fact that we could all see what they found in the bog because of the projector they had. Daniel

I liked the projected backdrop and the sound effects because it really set the mood of the play. Parts were comedic and parts were sad, when they fought the music was really loud and deep. Izzy

I thought both the characters were really funny, Ray was a bit pushy and impatient and Joe was nervous and sad. Aimee

I liked the way it was interactive; they asked the audience questions and talked to us. Finn

I liked at the start when you could hear the rain, I was kind of wondering what was going to happen. Erica

I liked how when the sound was going higher and lower the lights were going darker or brighter with different colours. Amber

I liked how the play, it didn’t really have a genre, it was laid back like two friends having a good time but then sometimes it would go a bit mad when they were having a fight and when Ray got stuck in the bog. Kuba


Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 6 – Thursday 14th February 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

In this session we started by looking at some of the set design images again. We recapped and looked at how for some plays, designers make a literal – real-looking place. While for other plays, the designers might create a set that is more abstract or combines outdoor space with indoor space…

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We also looked at some costume design images and discussed how costumes are linked to the set design. Then the children began to work on their own design drawings for the scenes they presented last week. They worked in groups and decided between them who would focus on set and who would work on costume.

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Once each group had some drawings and initial designs, we then switched up to 3-D and the children began to make set boxes based on their drawings.

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The children loved this session and were so engaged in the process of thinking about and designing their box sets. I am so impressed with the standard of their finished work and the children themselves are also really proud of their box sets. (Lucy)

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Wow guys! The finished set boxes and costumes are amazing!!! You really put so much thought and detail into the design for each of your play ideas, and it really paid off. As you were working I could tell that every member of the team was totally focused on the project – you were all engrossed in discussing or drawing or making different parts of the set or costume. It was just like a design room in a busy theatre, and it was very impressive how you collaborated and worked together to complete your designs. Well done.  (Michelle)


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Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 5 – Friday 8th February 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

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Today the children were particularly excited as they had the opportunity to perform the scenes they have worked so hard on. Our session began with each group sharing their progress and saying what stage they were at; some groups had completed one scene, another had both scenes written and some were adding dialogue to both scenes. Michelle and I went around to each group and gave some advice and suggestions to help them and the groups then began to rehearse. After the break each group performed for the whole class and the other children shared with them what they liked and what they thought worked well in the performance. (Lucy)

I liked seeing how everyone acted out their characters. Ava

Even in quite a short time everyone put on really good play. Kuba

Although some of the plays were based on the same headline they were all in the end different. Liam

Everyone had a play based on the same original characters but the portrayal was so different, some were humourous and some were mysterious or serious. Izzy

I liked how you could change a pretty serious title into a really funny play. Finn

Towards the end of today’s session we began to look at set design and Michelle showed us photographs of lots of different types of sets. We saw how the set, the lighting and the props can inform the audience before any actors come on stage. Some sets looked very realistic and others were fantastical, some were even creepy. (Lucy)

I enjoyed when Michelle showed us the different stages because I learned what type of play it might be by looking at the set. Daniel

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What a great session. It started off with the buzz of everyone working hard to tweak and improve their scenes. Quite quickly then all the children were up out of their seats rehearsing, which was very exciting to see. All the groups were very focused and worked really hard and this payed off, as Kuba said, because the scenes were very good even in such a short time. We all said that we could totally understand what was happening in each scene, and this meant we could also enjoy the comedy in some scenes and the different sneaky tricks in other scenes. We could also appreciate the acting, and not least some of the lovely writing and the nice ideas.

Lucy was also camera woman during the performances and videoed all the scenes, so hopefully she will now be able to upload them to the blog for everyone to see.  (Michelle)

Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 4 – Friday 1st February 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

Today we continued working on our modernised scripts based on Little Red Riding Hood. To begin with we spoke with our group to make sure everyone was happy with the Headline we had chosen and then each member of the group had five minutes to write down their ideas of how the scene would play out, which were then shared with each other. It was important to name our characters in order to help us begin to move away from the original characters although we had to make sure the character traits still matched. We then discussed and chose two potential dramatic moments that could be written as scenes, thinking about where these scenes could be set and which characters would be in them. We began to write the scenes together in our groups thinking about the dialogue and how the different characters and their characteristics would influence what they say, how they say it and how they interact with each other. (Lucy)

I found it interesting the way we each had different headlines and stories but we could all use characters who had the same characteristics. Maggie

It was fun how we could see what script writers do and the process they go through. Kuba

It was nice to rename the characters so they weren’t exactly the same and it helped thinking about them in a new way to the normal Red Riding Hood story. Ava

I find it very fun the way we get to write our own play. Iggy

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It’s great to hear those comments from the children. It is always so interesting to work on adapting something from the original to see how it can change, but still connect to the original story.

Just to recap for everyone on today’s progress…  these are the headline each group is working from and these are some of the scenes the groups have created to write. I can’t remember all the character names, so I might ask Lucy and the children to add those in here, but here’s what I remember from today… (Michelle)

Kian, Dan, Anca, Mariam and Haileys’ Group, after some deliberation and good compromise, chose the headline, “SPORTS COACH POACHES BEST PLAYER” for their story. In their version – a tricky coach from a different team hides a star player’s kit, so he is left behind in the changing room. The tricky coach then lies to the star player that his coach is going to sell him. The star player is quite naive (like Riding Hood) and agrees to sign a new contract with the tricky coach. Later in the story there is a court room scene, where the trick comes to light.

Yunseo, Iggy, Izzy, Aazib, Maia and Aimees’ Group chose the headline, “CLEVER HOMELESS PERSON STEALS RICH PERSON’S HOUSE” for their story idea. In their version Daisy the homeless girl is begging near a rich person’s house, when the rich person’s crazy grandmother passes her and gives her a button instead of money. Annoyed, Daisy follows the grandmother back to her house and decides to steal the house!

Amber, Kuba, Georgia, Maggie and Frankos’ Group chose the headline, “WRITER STEALS YOUNG GIRL’S BOOK IDEA” to create their play idea.  Their writer Mr Shakespeare the 4th, who hasn’t had a good idea in ages, sees the girl’s book on a park bench and realises the story she is writing (for a competition) is brilliant. When the girl discovers him reading her story he pretends to be a publisher and promises to publish her story…

Julia, Ella, Sadhbh, Ava and Liams’ Group also chose the headline, “CLEVER HOMELESS PERSON STEALS RICH PERSON’S HOUSE” for their story idea. But they came up with a completely different story in which Wilfred the homeless guy, tricks Rebecca the rich woman, into signing her house over to him! She thinks it’s a publicity stunt, but little does she know the papers she signed are real!

Alex, Elettra, Erica, Finn and Marks’ Group chose the headline, “LANDLORD SELLS HOUSE AND WANTS TO EVICT FAMILY” as their story idea. Conor the landlord, arrives in to tell the family they have to leave, but Paddy the friend helps to save them in the end!

Next week, the plan is to try and finish some of these scenes and see how they look and sound when acted out in front of the class. Exciting!

Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 3 – Friday 25th January 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

We looked back at the Red Riding Hood stories from the perspectives of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. In our groups we were planning a scene to write using the original story as a guide. We also thought more about the characteristics of each character in the story and began to talk about how we can use the structure of Red Riding Hood and the characters to make new stories or to modernise the story.

To help us with this Michelle had us look at some headlines and in one whole group we plotted a story under the headline of ‘Government Minister Needs More Money for Children’s Hospital’. Red Riding Hood’s mother became the Minister and Red Riding Hood was the Junior Minister sent to the EU Banker, adapted from the role of Granny, to get more money. On the way the Junior Minister came across someone pretending to be a philanthropic Billionaire interested in investing in the Children’s Hospital, this character was modelled on the Wolf. We came up with a variety of possible outcomes, some positive and some that weren’t ideal. We discussed how playwrights can write an unexpected or shocking ending in order to inspire action in the audience.

In our groups we have chosen another headline to use in order to modernise Red Riding Hood and we will write the script together.

I thought it was really nice that we can change up the story with your own ideas. Amber

I liked how we could turn the headlines into stories and still use the Red Riding Hood characters. Ella

Working with Michelle made me enjoy writing scripts and gives me more confidence to do it. Kian

I thought it was interesting to see how everybody has different ideas of how to use the characters for the same story. Erica

I like being able to choose what the characters say. Elettra

I like how everyone has a perspective on the character. Ava

I like learning lots of versions of the story and not just one. Georgia

I like seeing how even one story can have different endings. Kuba

Working with Michelle has opened a new world of play writing to me. I like how you can have one story but you can see many different perspectives from different characters. Liam

I liked turning Red Riding Hood and the Wolf and the other characters into other characters for the headlines. Sadhbh

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Lucy had  mentioned to me before we started that the class were really interested in current affairs, so that made me think of making up some headlines linked to things that do crop up in the news regularly. We had a look at these headlines in terms of who Riding Hood and the Wolf became in a new reality. We also looked at the things the main characters want. WANTS, DESIRES and NEEDS generally drive characters to take action in drama.

We discussed that the Wolf wants (and needs) food in the original version – he is hungry, maybe even starving, but he also seems greedy, because he’s not satisfied with Riding Hood’s basket of food, or even just eating Riding Hood. He wants to eat granny too!

We thought about how that might translate into a modern adaptation – that the wolf character might want – MONEY, or FAME, or SOMEONE’S HOUSE, or TO WIN! And how she or he are both hungry and greedy for those things.

I also told the children that, like with our Skellig adaptation, they are writing for theatre, so they are planning a play for five characters. Which is quite different from planning a book or a film story. We will need to keep this in mind.

Each group then picked a headline they liked, and began to brainstorm who the characters would be and how the story might work. And we’ll do some more on that next week.


Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 2 – Friday 18th January 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

This week the session started with each group performing their Skellig scene from last week. It was great to come in and have some “scratch” theatre performed straight away in the classroom – myself and Lucy really enjoyed it! And all the scenes were so interesting in their variety and their approach.

Some groups opted for the scene where Michael meets his neighbour Mina and they get off to a bumpy start in their friendship. These scenes showed the characters being argumentative, but also curious about each other. They were funny too and they created a “hook” for the audience because I wanted to know what would happen at their next meeting.

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The other choice of scene – the one where Michael meets the old man in his shed, who turns out to be Skellig, were also really interesting and well dramatised, but with quite different personalities for Skellig himself. This demonstrated how the same character might be played differently by actors in different versions of the story. In one he was very weak and passive, but in another version, he was still weak, but much more grumpy.

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The children commented…

The plays we did for Skellig, it was really funny and it gave us a new perspective on Skellig because in the book you couldn’t really see what was happening you just had to imagine it but when we made it into a play it gives it a realism.

It was really nice seeing all the plays, most people were making the same scene but they ended up different. A lot of them were acted out different in how they portrayed the characters. The way one person acted the character of Skellig was very different to another.

We liked working as part of a group, sometimes I like working by myself but the group was good because they helped write scenes when I ran out of ideas. It’s really nice working with someone from outside the school because it helps get new ideas and Michelle is an expert for writing scenes.

Next we started to look at STORY, and how European stories are constructed. We are very used to the BEGINNING, MIDDLE, END story format in this part of the world, and this works very well for plays and films, but I did mention that this form can be different in other cultures, where stories might be more episodic, or more philosophical (more about what the characters are thinking). We did briefly mention sequels and soap operas where the story seems to keep going, but we noted that for a play – which has to happen in real time, and in a real place – a Beginning, Middle and End (BME) is a good structure. We also brain-stormed the notion of story a little bit, and there were lots of great suggestions – something interesting has to happen… things happen that are exciting or dangerous  things work out okay in the end.

I did note that in some stories, things don’t work out in the end, but that the MAIN CHARACTER will definitely have been involved in some kind of ACTION which usually effects them and possibly CHANGES them. Michael will always be affected by meeting Skellig  and his and Mina’s ACTION of helping to save Skellig and what happens after that (no spoilers!) changes a lot of things in Michael’s life – including making a strong friendship with Mina, but it also changes the way he thinks about the world.

We then had a look at what is actually inside the BME of a familiar old story, to try and break it down even further. As far as we know stories have been told since human beings first existed and have helped us to pass on information and even today, they are still used to entertain us, but also to advertise to us, to help us understand other people’s situations and ever to make complex ideas in science and technology more understandable and personal.

So, we went right back in time to the folk tale or fairy tale of RED RIDING HOOD, and each group tried to remember all the STORY BEATS that they knew. These are the main THINGS THAT HAPPEN in the story. And they really do vary because the oldest stories, (of which Cinderella might actually the oldest), were passed down in different cultures, and  from person to person before they were written down, so everybody involved got to add or take bits away. In Riding Hood there are versions where Grandma gets eaten by the Wolf or she just gets shoved in the cupboard. And there are version where Riding Hood is saved or saves herself. However, the main STORY BEATS are consistent.

So then we looked at the same story but from the Wolf’s point of view (POV), because last week we had noted that the MAIN CHARACTER, was the one whose viewpoint we were following. So what would it be like to switch that viewpoint to a different character? This was interesting because it totally changed the way the story felt, and it became much more real and much less fantastical than the folk tale version.

Each group then had the option to take the Wolf’s or Riding Hood’s viewpoint, and to write one of the scenes from the story from that POV for next week.

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What the children thought….

We found it really interesting when everyone was giving the version of Red Riding Hood that they knew, we didn’t know there were different versions. We got to talk about the moments of the story that were important and how they shaped the story. Then Michelle gave us a choice of different endings and some of them were so funny like Red Riding Hood marrying the wolf.

We also got to see a real script that Michelle wrote about a wolf and it was really cool to see the struggles of a wolf and not just him as a nasty character. That was really interesting and it makes you think differently about Red Riding Hood.

Lucy added…

The children were really looking forward to sharing their scenes with Michelle and acting them out for the class. They really enjoyed seeing and discussing the variations in how each group had interpreted and written the characters for the scenes. It was very apparent that what Michelle had done with them the previous week really resonated with the children and they applied it to their scripts and acting.

Next they looked at the story of Little Red Riding Hood, identifying and discussing key characters and moments. Michelle also shared with the class a script she had written from a wolf’s point of view. The children looked at potential endings for each story and enjoyed thinking about more unusual outcomes.