Thanks to a long-standing tradition at Dows Lane Elementary School, second-graders, who have been reading fairy tales and discovering the power of storytelling, are bringing literature to life through a creative and authentic learning experience. They’re preparing to perform different versions of “Cinderella” before an audience of peers, teachers and parents on March 28.
As part of the 10-week-long Bringing Literature to Life enrichment program, which was generously funded by the Irvington Education Foundation, the students have been working with theater educator Peter Royston. They’re learning about the various tools that actors use, such as gestures, facial expressions, body language and words, to tell a compelling story. They’re also writing their own scripts to a selected version of “Cinderella” – or the same story told from different perspectives – for their culminating performance.
“They’re so invested in the story that they want to pronounce and accentuate the different words [from the script],” teacher Dina Lenhardt said. “Each student has a chance to succeed in this program – whether it’s coming up with parts of the script, different actions or hand movements, different lines, or whether it’s being a narrator or introducing the play.”
Through the learning experience, the second-graders are gaining confidence in public speaking and have an outlet for performing. It has also allowed them to express their creativity through acting, playwriting and creating a set design.
“Theater is a very powerful medium especially for young children,” Lenhardt said. “Combined with children’s literature, it brings expressive qualities to a new level and enables them to fully understand and appreciate the creative process.”
As a result of Bringing Literature to Life, the students will learn how to communicate effectively, work collaboratively with their peers and become creative risk-takers, as well as practice reflection and self-reliance to collectively read, write, rehearse and perform.