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Making new friends

It’s the start of our Summer term and it’s always lovely to see the children after the holidays and to meet lots of new children too. Our theme for the 4-7s this term is Mermaids and Pirates which is an incredibly popular theme with both boys and girls and one that we’re going to have great fun with.

Our weekly focus is about how to meet people and make friends for the first time and we play lots of communication-style activities with them and encourage them to partner up with children they don’t know very well. It is a fabulous topic to start the term on, as meeting people and making new friends is a very important part of everyone’s lives.

When I grow up, I want to be...

In our PF improvised adventure, we meet The Seasick Pirate for the first time (and start learning his song). He explains that he’s desperate to be a real live pirate when he grows up but at the moment he can’t, because he’s constantly seasick. We then learn that on Treasure Island there’s a Sacred Coconut and if you touch it, it makes your wish come true. And you can guess what the Seasick Pirate’s wish is can’t you?

We use this as our topic of the week and spend some time discussing what we all want to be when we grow up and play a game where we act out our dream job for everyone to guess.

Making decisions

Our focus of the week is all about making decisions.

In our improvised adventure, PF and the Seasick Pirate are lost in a cave and they can’t agree on which direction to go. Every day we all have to make decisions and solve problems. When we give young children the tools for making decisions, they are better prepared for making major life choices as they get older.

Role-play is a brilliant way to explore this as it gives children the opportunity to become someone else and think about what it would be like to make a decision, as that person in totally different circumstances.

Clear diction

Our focus of the week is all about the importance of Clear Diction

The children meet the parrot Rita Conchita and start to learn the poem about her. We concentrate on enunciating the words crisply and clearly and to enjoy every single vowel and consonant. Parrots are brilliant at mimicking humans, so we play lots of mimicking exercises too which is great fun. We could probably spend a whole term on this topic as there are so many exercises and fun activities to cover.

It’s also our Bring a Friend Week where we meet lots of new children who have come along to try out the class.

Relaxing and being calm

Our focus is how to relax and be calm if you’re feeling upset or cross about something.

We meet The Castaway who has been ship wrecked on Treasure Island for 50 years and is desperate to go home. Every now and again, he gets very upset about this and PF has to show him different ways to relax and calm down. We discuss how it feels when you find it hard to control your emotions and experiment with the following ways to help calm us down if we’re ever feeling cross and upset:

  • Picturing a place where you feel relaxed and happy and thinking about it.
  • Singing loudly
  • Breathing deeply and slowly
  • Tensing and then relaxing your body
  • Finding something funny (laughter)
  • Talking about it with someone

Responsibility

Giving children responsibility is important for their growth and development and what better way to do this than through improvisation? The Seasick Pirate was given the responsibility of looking after the map, but he decides to leave it under a rock and go for a swim. But the wind blows it away and he loses it!

We also chat about what we can be responsible for at home to help our families.

Team Work

Our focus this week is Team Work. In our improvised adventure, we build a boat and sail off to rescue the Sacred Coconut which Captain Long Gone has stolen.

However, it all becomes chaotic and nobody is getting anything done properly. We then realise that in order to work effectively, we have to become a team and divide up our tasks and work together. All Pirates have a Captain, a First Mate etc. The Seasick Pirate takes control and within minutes we are operating brilliantly and even manage to drink some pirate punch.

Trust

Now we’ve been working together as a team for a while and in continuity of the wonderful team work we did last week, our focus of the week is Trust.

In our improvised adventure the ship that everyone is on starts to sink and The Seasick Pirate shouts “Overboard!” Sadly no-one wants to jump overboard because they are afraid of sharks. However, The Seasick Pirate tells them that it is safe and asks them to all trust him. They follow him back to shore and all return safely.

 

Interesting words

Our focus of the week is all about using interesting words that enhance our vocabulary.

In our improvised adventure, PF and his friends need to recruit Flash, a very fast sailfish to help find Rita Conchita, but he’s a bit arrogant and will only do it if they describe him with fabulous words as he doesn’t’ think that ‘fine, good, and nice’ are exciting enough. So we have to use our imagination to think of really cool words and we experiment with new words by making some up ourselves too.

We also play the “How are you Game” – one of Perform’s original exercises. In this game we remove all the boring words from our mouth and politely ask each other how we are. We then reply in a dazzling way. And we remember to be polite and ask the person how they are back too. 

Have a go and try your best

Our focus this week is “Have a go and try your best”. Our passion at Perform is to eventually make our children so confident within themselves that they are always keen to “have a go and try their best”.

What we’re passionate about is that through the skills they learn at Perform, children become able to throw themselves into any situation in life, and try their best because they have the confidence to do so.

PF is faced with a dilemma, can he read the map and guide Captain Long Gone to safety? He’s never done it before, and he’s not sure he can do it. But with the encouragement and support of his friends he decides to “have a go and try his best”.

It's the week before the show

It’s the week before our show so we focus a lot on rehearsing and spend a significant amount of the class going through our show (as well as getting excited about dressing up, singing and dancing and performing for our families).

Even though it’s a significant part of our term’s work, the performance is not the most important part of what we do at Perform. However, it’s a fantastic way to bring together the skills that we focus on each week.

Our teachers take the children on a final run through and get them to really work on their vocal projection in front of the audience and also to remember where they stand in every scene.  So much to remember! 

Show week

On show day we celebrate the work we have achieved since term started. The children come in costume which really raises the level of performance and adds a huge excitement to the day.

Our 4-7 year olds present a mini-musical where they sail to Treasure Island and help to rescue the Sacred Coconut from Captain Long Gone Silver. They dance the Coconut Calypso dance, sing the Seasick Pirate song and perform the Rum Rap as well as playing a host of piratical and mermaid characters along the way.

Fun week

We have a blast this week and celebrate our term’s work by playing the children's favourite games and giving them a sneaky peek into next term’s theme which is The Magician’s Chamber.

Introduction to William Shakespeare

It’s the start of our Summer term and it’s always lovely to see the children after the holidays and to meet lots of new children too.

With the 7-12 year old children, we’ll be performing a modern day version of  A Midsummer Night’s Dream called The Dream.   Therefore, we have a Shakespeare inspired focus where we introduce the children to the great writer and explain the difference between his comedies, tragedies and historical plays. We also explore how his work has influenced our world today. A great start to the term and a very interesting lesson. 

Rhythm & Shakespeare

As an extension of our introduction to William Shakespeare week last week, we look at rhythm and in particular, iambic pentameter. We won’t be using Shakespearean language in our version of The Dream but it’s a useful exercise for our budding actors.

For example, we learn that he used different techniques and that the posh characters normally speak in iambic pentameter.  An iamb is a weak beat followed by a strong one. And penta means that there are 5 beats in each line – hence the  name iambic pentameter. 

We experiment with some of Theseus’ lines from the play so that they can experiment with what we’ve learnt.  

Being decisive

First of all we establish what Being Decisive actually means.

We do some  simple role-play and give the children characters and a problem that needs a quick but informed decision to be made. They rehearse these in small groups and then act out their scenes culminating with everyone deciding on which decision they should take. 

Apart from being fun and rehearsing our acting skills, it's also a very safe forum to which we can explore different scenarios.

Stage combat

We focus on stage combat or fight choreography is in this lesson. 

We learn that this is a specialised technique in theatre, designed to create the illusion of physical combat without causing harm to the performers. The teachers carefully take the children through a series of different stage combat techniques for them to use in their performance.  

It’s also our Bring a Friend Week where we meet lots of new children who have come along to try out the class.

Relaxing and being calm

In our show, there’s a lot of confrontation between the characters, with many of them getting cross and upset with each other. So as our focus, we discuss how it feels when you get cross or upset in real life and how we can use different techniques to calm ourselves down if we’re ever in this situation.

We also get to act out being very cross and angry (which is good fun) and discuss how these emotions can be communicated through our bodies as well as our voices.

Responsibility

We started off by discussing what responsibility means and we all came up with suggestions for when we have been responsible in our own lives and why it’s important.

We then looked at the characters in our show and through role-play give the children a scenario where they have to be responsible and then the opposite. We discuss the different outcomes were and how interesting they are. 

Team work

Team work is a vital part of a drama class, as you can’t perform a show or play a game without working as a team. It’s essential that we learn to listen to each other and share ideas so we have a very exhilarating workshop concentrating on how to work effectively as a team member. We also discuss how much more effective for the final result it is too.  

We play loads of fun team building exercises and ask different children lead activities and it's really good fun. 

Trust

Now we’ve been working together as a team for a while and in continuity of the wonderful team work we did last week, our focus of the week is Trust.

There are some very powerful games you can play within this topic which work brilliantly with children of all ages. For example, we ask one person to close their eyes so that they can’t see and we put some obstacles in the room. Then the rest of the class/or their partner has to guide the person around safely with vocal instructions.

The Trust focus week is always excellent fun and great in a drama setting and we are obviously on hand to make sure that it is always super safe!

Enhanced vocabulary

Our focus of the week is all about using interesting words that enhance our vocabulary.

We spend a lot of time working on getting the children to describe things in more imaginative and flowery language. For example, we ask the children to describe something using boring words, interesting words and then captivating words – and just to make it even more exciting they can do this in any theatrical style they wish.

We’re also working hard now on rehearsing the scenes of The Dream, our show that we’ll be performing in July.

Line run

We are really cracking on now with our rehearsals for “The Dream”. With the show approaching, we incorporate a speedy line run into the lesson where we sit in a circle or space and run through our lines focusing on picking up the cue from the previous line really swiftly.

It's the week before the show

It’s the week before our show, so we focus a lot on rehearsing and spend a significant amount of the class going through our show (as well as getting excited about dressing up, singing and dancing and performing for our families).

Even though rehearsals are a large part of our term’s work, the performance is not the most important part of what we do at Perform. However, it’s a fantastic way to bring together the skills that we focus on each week. Our teachers take the children on a final run through and get them to really work on their vocal projection in front of the audience and also to remember where they stand in every scene.  So much to remember! 

It's show week

On show day we celebrate the work we have achieved since term started. The children come in costume which really raises the level of performance and adds a huge excitement to the day.

Our 7-12 year olds perform The Dream, a specially-written musical based on William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  

This is a more advanced musical that will see them stretched vocally and choreographically. With a host of lines and blocking to remember, the stage-craft that they have learnt throughout term will stand them in good stead for a fun and polished performance. 

Fun week

This week is all about reflecting on last week’s performance and introducing the children to next term’s theme of Ebenezer, which is based on Charles Dicken’s  iconic story A Christmas Carol. 

Introduction to Rise of the Robots

It’s the start of our Summer term and it’s always fantastic to see the children after the holidays and to meet lots of new children too. 

We have an extremely energised lesson making sure that the children are all familiar with the structure of our Exhilarate section (which is the physical warm up and bleep test part of the class). We start to learn our Rise of the Robots dance and play lots of fun ice-breaker style games to mark the start of a new term.

 

Exploring rhythm

We start our focuses this week and begin with Exploring Rhythm and what that means.

We listen to 4 pieces of music and discuss how important rhythm is, for example: you can have the same tune or sequence of notes, but if the rhythm is not the same, then the tune can sound completely different. We play games which experiment with rhythmic patterns and it's a really fun class. 

Creating our own hip hop move 

This week is a very creative week where we get to experiment and make up our own hip hop moves. We’re all familiar with the well-known hip hop steps and many of these feature in our Rise of the Robots routine, but this week we make up our own ones.   

We split the children into groups and their challenge is to invent a new move and name it as well as then teaching it to the rest of the class.

Stage combat

We focus on stage combat or fight choreography is in this lesson. 

We learn that this is a specialised technique in theatre designed to create the illusion of physical combat without causing harm to the performers. We take the children through a series of different stage combat techniques  and they adore it. 

It’s also our Bring a Friend Week where we meet lots of new children who have come along to try out the class.

 

 

Freestyle challenge

This week we work on our Freestyle dancing

This allows for individual expression and we encourage the children to create new moves and develop a personal style for themselves.

We also give them solo opportunities within exercises to do this which is great for their confidence building – because if you have the confidence to dance solo – you have the confidence to do most things.

 

Exploring different tempos

We love experimenting with different music within our class and this weekend we have a particular focus on what the tempo of a piece of music is.

We learn that the tempo is the speed of the music and that it can completely change the way in which we dance. We have a lot of fun performing different steps at different speeds. It is a very energised lesson.

 

Collaboration

It’s all about collaboration this week and we play a lot of team building exercises, including a game where everyone contributes one step to make up a routine.

Our end of term show is a complete collaboration and we discuss how many people collaborate to put on a show from the beginning to end. 

Self expression

Throughout history we’ve used dance to express ourselves and our feelings so this week we focus on self expression through movement and dance.

We choose a cross-section of different music and ask the children to put together choreography based on how the music makes them feel. We ask them to think about the rhythm and tempo of the music, in particular, how their moves change when a different style of music is played. We talk about how it’s sometimes easier to express yourself through movement as opposed to words too which is interesting to explore. 

It’s a really fun lesson and a fantastic way of losing inhibitions and gaining confidence.

Instant choreogrpahy

Instant choreography is our focus this week. When we’re heavily involved with rehearsing our Rise of the Robots routine, it’s really fun to have a different focus which involves our own creativity.  Instant choreography is perfect for where we are in the term. It involves making up dance moves on the spot, so whereas our show choreography is always considered, instant choreography is improvised within the moment. 

Knowing the show inside out

During the performance, which is getting very close now, we want the children to relax and have fun. It's crucial that theysimply enjoy the experience of sharing their term’s work with friends and family.

But this week is all about knowing the show inside out, meaning that they exactly what they’re doing so that they can just enjoy performing on the big day. 

It's the week before the show

We have a great class and it’s an exciting and important one as it’s the last class before our dance presentation.

We make sure that everyone is happy and confident with their roles and have a final rehearsal to go through everything.

It's the show!

On show day we celebrate the work we have achieved since term started. The children come in costume which really raises the level of performance and adds a huge excitement to the day.

We perform Rise of the Robots for our family and friends.

 

 

Fun week

We have a blast this week and celebrate our term’s work by playing for the children their favourite games Perform X style. 

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