the play

In the last week of school, we went on a wonderful field trip.  The mother of a former student contacted me a few months ago to ask if I’d be interested in bringing my class to the children’s theater where she works.  They were doing outreach for urban preschoolers, and were offering free tickets and a free bus.  Of course I said yes!

The day before the trip, an outreach person from the theater came to visit to do storytelling with my class.  She was wonderful, and immediately had a great rapport with them.  Miss Slinger and I sat in the back and watched, along with M., my teenage volunteer (more on him in another post).  The visitor had them reach into a grocery bag and pull out objects, and then she told us the stories she associates with those objects (the ladle had her reminiscing about making and eating soup in the winter with her young daughters, and so on).

Then they made a story together, with our visitor drawing the setting (a house) and the characters that the children called out:  a chicken!  a bird!  a dog!  a cat!  a bear!  a squirrel!  And all the characters, the class insisted, were sitting on the roof.  Last character was a cow, who was down by the door.  “Why is the cow by the door?  What is he doing?”

“He’s saying, let me in!” they chorused.

“Okay, so the cow says, ‘Let me in,’ but nobody answered.  Why didn’t anyone answer?”

“Because they were all on the roof!!!”

“So the cow said, ‘I want to come up to the roof, too!’  But how will he get up there?”

“A bird will fly him!”

“Wow.  A bird.  Okay, a giant eagle swooped down and flew him up to the roof!”  She drew another cow, on the roof.  “Oops.  It looks like the cow is sitting on the bird.  Sorry bird.”  Then she did the bird’s voice — “Hey, get off of me!” and went into this whole hilarious riff about the bird feeling squished by the cow.  The children were in the palm of her hand, rapt with attention and with glee.  Then she split the class in half — one half audience, one half acting out the story — and acted out the story twice.  The part about the cow sitting on the bird kept getting funnier, and I had tears in my eyes watching them.  They made me so happy, and I knew I would be saying goodbye within days.

The next day we had the thrilling bus ride to the theater, and walked in to find magical chains of leaves hanging from the ceiling all around us.  We had to walk through the leaves to get to our seats, so the effect was magical right from the start.  The play was wonderful and silly, and I only had to get Raspberry and Pumpkin to sit back down and get off the set three times.

It was a happy, happy morning.

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