A Play Performance

A play performance with preschoolers?  Where children pick parts, make props, and decide on what to say?  You bet.  Instead of telling children what to do, I ask them what they want to do.

That’s empowering.

We learned about the Southwest, and a favorite book was The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell.  It’s a Southwest take on The Three Little Pigs.  Perfect story for a play performance!

In this story, the pigs are javelinas, and the wolf is a coyote.  The first house built was with tumbleweed (not straw.)

We made the tumbleweed house by gluing shredded paper onto styrofoam balls.  That was fun, and it looked just like tumbleweed.

The second house built was with with the sticks that are part of the tall saguaro cactus (not sticks from trees.)

Our sagauro stick house was made with craft sticks glued in long rows.  This was fun, and children wanted to make sure that it looked like long saguaro sticks.  It did!

The third house was built with adobe bricks (not regular bricks.)

We painted cardboard blocks with gold and brown paint.  They became perfect adobe bricks.

Let the play begin!

Children lined up in front of the audience.  Cowboy hats, bandanas, and coyote ears were perfect costumes for javelinas and coyotes.  Our sellers needed a hard hat and a tool apron, a western vest, and a big sombrero.

They did a wonderful job.  When a javelina came to get tumbleweed and saguaro sticks, the sellers said, “Not a good idea.”  When a javelina came along to get adobe bricks, the seller said, “Great idea!”

The javelinas persisted, and the sellers gave them their wares.  The javelinas built their houses, and of course the coyote came along.  The big debate was what to chant, “Little pig”, or “Little javelina.”  Yes, children voted on “little javelinia.”  They also voted on everyone in the play saying the chant:

Little javelina, little javelina, let me come in.
Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.

 That was so much fun!

Coyotes decided to put their hands on their hips and stomp around, sniffing for javelinas.  Children who were javelinas scrambled under tables into their houses, and the chant rang out loud and clear, from house to house.

The play continued; coyotes climbed onto the roof of the adobe brick house, jumped down the stovepipe of the wood stove, and ran away with plenty of howling.

Here’s the thing; I handed over the reins to the children, and they rose to the occasion.  Because they were empowered, they grew in confidence.  They felt good about themselves.  They worked together.  They had fun.

Here is a video of part of the play:

Play performances rock, as long as the children are in charge.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, play performances, self esteem, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to A Play Performance

  1. srbottch says:

    Nice work, Jennie. The kids were well behaved and I noticed lots of Patriot shirts.

  2. Oh, how delightful this was! The children were brilliant, and the story and props are wonderful!
    It took me right back to being a young Mother with children and their school plays, and recitals. Gaul, how I miss them being little, and all we did.
    You have no idea how thankful I am to be a Grandma and have an opportunity to do stuff like this again! #1 Grandson starts school this August so things like this will be on my agenda again. YIPEE! I can hardly wait! You are a rare gem in the world of teaching.
    After going through the Public school system myself there was only one teacher that made a real difference and impact on my life. I didn’t have her until 5th grade! My 9th grade Math teacher was a gem, but I wasn’t smart enough for him sadly. I missed that boat.
    Big Baby Boy was very blessed he had one in 5th, and 8th grade that made a difference and impact on his life.
    Baby Girl never had one…two that really turned her off, and I had to concur. Not to mention the one that was totally loony and doing crazy things in the classroom, and leaving them for hours alone while she did God know what. It took 6 months to get her out of the classroom! They were totally doing it wrong. Sigh. I ended up pulling her from Public School and Home Schooling her, eventually testing her out of High School and enrolling her in Jr. College at 15. It was the only thing that got her through it. There are gaps in her education, but she’s filling them in, and thankfully she’s very smart, successful, and doing very well in her career field. She’s the Director of her Department at her company at 28. I am sleeping easy that my Challenging Baby got through the school years!
    You know I am praying #1 Grandson gets teachers as sane, creative, wonderful, and inspiring as you are!

    • Jennie says:

      It is wonderful to go through the cycle again with grandchildren. I have five! Like you, my son had a few great teachers who inspired him. My daughter did not, and that was hard! Fortunately both are fine and doing well. They realize the value of education early on, too. So exciting that your grandson is starting school. My best advice after decades of teaching is read aloud all the time, and really listen to what they have to say. Thank you so much! 🙂

  3. Ritu says:

    This is just so cute!!!!
    I love that you were able to give them all that time to be creative in their own way!! I wish I didn’t have the kids for such a short while in our nursery, so I could do the same!

  4. Opher says:

    That is fabulous Jennie! Those kids are so special.

  5. beetleypete says:

    What a great idea, and the props and costumes were so inventive too.
    I really enjoyed watching the video clip. Thanks for letting us all see your play, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  6. Jennie, you gave me the biggest Valentine’s Day smile! This is so adorable, and you’re absolutely right about it being empowering.
    (I remember the first time I ‘met’ a tumbleweed when I moved to Albuquerque. I had already seen them on the road. One was as large as a compact car, and it tumbled down the high volume highway along with the cars. The TV news helicopter was tracking it. But I was inside my car. Then one day a tumbleweed blew into my backyard, and was trapped by my courtyard wall. It was as big as my sofa. They are not heavy at all, but they are prickly, and I had no idea what I was going to do with it. A couple of days later it disappeared. I thought the guy next door must have taken care of it, but no. A big enough gust of wind came along and it tumbled on its way!)
    Happy Valentine’s Day hugs!

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Teagan. Adorable and empowering, at it’s best. I have never seen Southwest tumbleweed. The high desert in Oregon has tumbleweed, but much smaller. I had no idea it could be as big as a compact car or a sofa! I’m so glad this gave you a big Valentine’s Day smile! Hugs to you, Teagan!

  7. Dan Antion says:

    That sounds like a wonderful idea and a great project/performance.

  8. What patience you all have to pull off such a grand performance and allow the children to do their own thing. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like this. I will be smiling all day thinking of this. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Marlene. It was so much fun! Children are still doing this on their own, especially on the playground. Today they wanted me to be the coyote. A great experience for children.

  9. L. Marie says:

    Love your lesson plan, Jennie. And the children looked so excited on the video!

  10. That was so cute, Jennie. I loved getting to see it all come together. Sort of like herding cats. Lol. Such fun and so creative. 🙂

  11. Darlene says:

    How wonderful!! Thanks for the video. I bet they enjoyed watching themselves later as well. I can see the enthusiasm. So refreshing.

  12. Great idea, Jennie.I loved the video as well. So much fun.

  13. What a lot of fun, Jennie. When I was a little girl, I used to love to write plays. I would cast my class in the plays and then we would perform for the teacher. I remember one day we were practicing so hard we never heard the end of break bell and the teacher had to come looking for us all.

  14. Saw this first thing this morning and it really made my day! It takes a lot of work to put on a show – and everyone shined (including you, teacher!)

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Laura. I’m so glad the play started your day with a smile. It takes a lot of work, yet the rewards for children are immeasurable. And, so much fun!

  15. This is fantastic, Jennie! Loved the pics and video!

  16. What a lovely post, Jennie, and a great video. They sure looked like they were having fun.

  17. reocochran says:

    We loved this book which was one of the state of Ohio’s reading choices one year as we measured the content areas from ’99 through ’08, when I was forced out of teaching due to NCLB act.

    • Jennie says:

      NCLB was an unfortunate disaster. Jim Trelease has much to say about that in his book. So glad you (and Ohio) like and remember the book The Three Little Javelinas. 🙂

      • reocochran says:

        Thank you for sympathy and adding your dear friend, Jim Trelease! Hugs to you for such kindness!
        This book is just as you demonstrated, Jennie! The subject and scenery are so fascinating. I’m glad when you suggest new books, as well as keeping the classics!

      • Jennie says:

        You’re welcome, Robin. If teachers ran the schools, wouldn’t America’s children have a better school experience, which would lead to a better education? Sigh! So glad you enjoyed the play and the book. 🙂 Good books are both old and new. 😀😀

  18. reocochran says:

    I also do want to say I loved the film and your choices to do this are very interesting and you are giving these students So Much Attention! Children need this in this busy, bustling and dangerous environment these days. I am honored to know you are carrying this out into the future as they will surely read aloud, play and listen to their own children. 💞

    • Jennie says:

      The video was so much fun. It may look like not much is happening with the children, but I know you can see and read between the lines that lots is happening. Process is always more important than product. Making the three different houses and picking parts and costumes was huge, making the play performance much more. Children absolutely need all this attention. I do believe they will read aloud because they already love books. 😀❤️

  19. swamiyesudas says:

    Excellent, my Dear Jennie! And Kudos once again. Lovely to read and to watch that. 🙂

  20. Lara/Trace says:

    Bravo! Let me be a coyote too!

  21. What a fun time, everyone did such a great job!

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