Curriculum Spotlight: Lower School Drama

Immersed in the vibrant world of drama and storytelling, Oak Knoll students experience life’s journey and character growth. Particularly, third and fourth-grade students, having learned the subtleties of Spanish and self-expression through music and movement, now broaden their perspectives by exploring diverse cultures and traditions.
They have the opportunity during National Hispanic Heritage month to rehearse and perform a number at a Lower School assembly that incorporates much of what they have already learned with the added challenge of synchronizing their musicality with dance and Spanish language and culture.
As Lower School Drama Teacher Eileen Dean explains, “My idea was to take prior knowledge that they had and incorporate that into something new. They don’t have a dance class, so I thought incorporating less familiar forms of expression — like choral singing and dance — and infusing that with something that was already familiar — Spanish language and basic movement expression — might take them outside their comfort zone while building upon more comfortable skills. So even though they are stepping outside the box, so to speak, it’s still giving them a little bit of a safety net.” 
This fun performance and unit of instruction supports a wider focus on the folklore of many countries, cultures, and traditions that are celebrated in the middle level grades. “By incorporating all the elements together in this performance students experience complex language singing and dancing at the same time. Grade 3 and 4 are a great level that I felt could handle the rigor. To sing in another language supports a  kind of empathy. To step into another person’s shoes, to understand another culture or perspective are key elements in a drama program,’ says Dean.
As they progress into grade 5 and 6, students will build on their widening confidence in front of an audience to perform solo skits and monologues. They will also create self-written, directed, and produced commercials — further developing their creative writing skills — encouraging them to explore, investigate, and discover as they become lifelong learners.