Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt is a really great picture book that children of all ages will enjoy.
It’s about a squirrel who is afraid of anything outside of his nut tree. He stays in his tree trying to avoid all the harmful things in the world such as poison ivy, sharks, and killer bees.
There a probably a million things you could do with this book in your classroom. Today, I thought I’d share with you a drama lesson that I tried out last week with a Grade 1 class. It takes roughly half an hour and is suitable for the primary classroom. It involves cooperation and movement.
My students really enjoyed this lesson. I’m sure yours will as well.
1) Read the picture book “Scaredy Squirrel” to the class.
2) Brainstorm a list of things that scare the students.
3) If no one brings up thunderstorms, tell them how your dog whimpers and hides whenever there is a big storm.
4) Have the students sit in a circle and tell them that we can create a thunderstorm right here in the classroom.
5) Rub your hand on the floor or carpet in a circular motion and instruct all of the students to do the same. This will sound like the wind that comes before a storm.
6) Then use your fingers to quietly tap on the ground. This will sound like light rain drops.
7) Next, tap harder to simulate a harder rain.
8) Slapping the ground will sound like thunder. Some students might want to clap their palms together for an extra thunderous effect.
9) Then have the students repeat these sounds in reverse order. This way it will sound like a storm slowly coming in and then moving away.
10) Some students might suggest flicking the lights on and off for the lightning.
11) It may take you a few tries to get this sounding great. When you do, have the students focus on just the sounds.
12) Next you can choose a student to act out part of the story. He or she gets to pretend to be the squirrel.
13) Have another volunteer act out the part of something scary. They can choose something from the story or from the list of things we brainstormed.
14) The rest of the students will practise being good audience members.
15) Coach the students on how to use their bodies and voice to act scared. They can run. They can shake. They can hide. They can make a whelp or a (little) scream. Encourage them to get right into the role.
I hope you have found this lesson useful. It’s really amazing how a group of people can come together to simulate the sound of a thunderstorm. Plus, it’s a fun story and fun to act out.
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