Children’s Text Theater/ What helps Children Internalize Text?

This week in Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten) one area of exploration we have been doing, is acting out the text in our “Children’s Text Theater”. When we do this kind of exploration, there are a number of things that children are working that are included in learning the text and not all of them are always apparent.

Being independent learners: Children have a set of line drawings (hand-drawn, representational images of the text) on the wall, that make it possible for children to choose what discrete part of the text they want to try playing. Not every child needs to play, children might be the audience, but they may also be playing somewhere else in the room, children know where to find materials in the room and can play cooperatively (invite others to play, create a set of rules together, explain what they are making so others can join in).

Organization: Children work together to remember the order of the text. “We need to show the Adam (human) being made before the planting.” Children organize the play area, setting it up, moving materials and props out between each scene. Children orient themselves in the space in relation to other children, in order to show how characters interact with each other.

Turn taking and collaborating: Children help each other remember what their character is doing in that part of the text. Children invite each other to participate in a “show”, they work together to figure out which part of the text they want to play, and set up the stage, together. They also negotiate which character roles are available, and which character they want to portray.

Interpreting text: Children use their bodies, faces, tone of voice, props and costumes to show their interpretation of the text. Sometimes more than one child might choose to be the same character. When this happens, it is possible for children to observe and then play different interpretations about the same character, “I am going to show my Adam being sad, because he didn’t find a helper and a friend”, or “I am showing my Adam happy, he wants to find a helper and a friend.”

Having Children’s Text Theater, has been so integral to moving from simply being able to recall and retell the text, to being able to share new interpretations and ideas about the text. I don’t want to “spill the beans” (as the children would say), about the interpretations and ideas that children have shared, to hear more about those, you’ll have to come to our Family Exploration and Celebration, on December 8th!

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