by Vicky on April 26, 2010

“‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe…”

I’m planning to report on most of my Page Presents classes, as time permits, going back to the first of the year.  For our storytime class last month featuring Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, I tried out a little participatory drama.  Page the Bookworm announced that our theme for the day was silliness, and thus we had to start out by shaking our sillies IN (not OUT) to the tune of Raffi’s Shake My Sillies Out.

Then I showed them a big pop-up book, Silly Heads, by Cathy Shuttleworth et al., and I started mixing up the fairy godmother in the tiara with the wizard’s beard, or putting the pirate hat on the bejeweled ingenue princess, etc., etc.  This elicited much hilarity.

By now, they were getting into the spirit of silliness, so Page showed off his Jubjub bird costume as I explained the story of Jabberwocky “in prose.”  Then I divided the group into two sections.  “You are the Slithy Toves,” I told one section, bestowing upon them colorful gauze scarves to wave from side to side.  The other group got wands with crepe paper streamers.  “You are the Mimsy Borogoves,” I instructed them, “and you must pop up from time to time and wave your tentacles.”  My husband wore an owl mask and held other owl masks in each hand, so he resembled a three-headed Mome Rath.  One head would pop up, uttering a mournful “Moooooome…”  Then the middle head would shriek “Raths!” and the third head would comment wryly, “Outgrabe…”  It was quite a performance.  He also operated the Fr-r-r-umious Bandersnatch, a dragon-like kite.

I played the father, the son, and the Jabberwock.  We used a large dragon head puppet for the Jabberwock, which was perfect for flinging off in its death throes and then galumphing back with.  Some background music added atmosphere to our dramatization.

Afterwards the kids made paper plate masks.  They had the option of using a whole plate or using one of several templates provided to shape the plate before embellishing it.  I just put out a lot of odds and ends from our crafts closet, and the children did the rest.  I had been looking forward to trying a very open project like this, which I thought would be pedagogically much better for developing their creativity.  They had a wonderful time with their mask-making, and continued their dramatic play wearing the masks.  Long after the session ended, one little boy was still wearing his mask as he looked at picture books.

By the way, while we’re on the subject of Jabberwocky, please don’t miss the humor and artistry—and fabulous puppets—of the Crabgrass Puppet Theater’s performance!

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