Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Over the Moon

Working With: Memory, Characterization, Storytelling

Objective: Students will build some skills in public speaking, storytelling, and characterization.

Rationale: Over the Moon tells the story of parents adopting a child. However, rather than engage in a discourse about adoption, we will instead use this book as a model to talk about our families and our memories. Children will be given the example of the story in Over the Moon, and will then tell stories that are important to their families to the class. They will also play with characterization and relationships in the theme of families with “Family Reunion.”

1. Human Knot (15 minutes)

Have participants stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder. Then have them reach out into the center and grab random hands. Then have participants untangle themselves without letting go of each other’s hands.

2. Read Over the Moon. (10 minutes)

3. First Activity: Family Reunion (20 minutes)

Sets of four to six cards, depending on the number of students in the class, are printed with family names; for example, Mother Courage, Grandmother Courage, Sister Courage. Each student is given a card. Once members are present, families retire to one corner of the room and create a tableau representing a photo in the family album. The game is replayed several times.

After playing the game several times, students remain with one family to create three pictures for the family album. Captions to accompany the photos can be suggested; for example “Our Family Vacation.”


4. Second Activity: Stories from My Past (20 minutes)

Students pick one of the following topics or questions on which to base the retelling of a personal, significant story. They provide as much detail as possible, and answer audience member’s questions concerning the story.

What was your best vacation?

What was your most memorable birthday party?

Have you ever been afraid?

What special toys have been part of your life?

What special accomplishment have you achieved?

What book do you remember from your childhood?

Have you ever repaired anything?

Have you ever had to move?

Describe a time when you were surprised.

Students are given a time limit to tell their story. They work with a partner or a small group to develop their story. After listening to a story, students might work with a new partner or group and tell the story that they were told.

Students work as a whole group to tell stories relating to the topics and questions. On a signal, one student begins to tell his or her story. On another signal, she or he stops and another student picks up the story. Each person has a chance to contribute to the collective storytelling.


5. Cool Down: Pass the pulse (5 minutes)

Everyone stands in a circle and holds hands. One person passes a pulse around the circle by squeezing the hand of the person to their right. This pulse is passed through the circle. A second pulse can be added. See how fast you can pass the pulse around.

Assessment: The teacher should gather a sense that students understand and feel empathetic to the situation happening in this particular family...specifically children of adopted parents. If students seem like they are emotionally connecting to the material - it'll be obvious that they are gaining some sensitivity to other family structures. A means of formal assessment might be seen in a non-drama related way, this book is definitely a great jumping off point to a series of writing pieces involving defining ones' family, understanding others' families, and being tolerant of different family structures. Perhaps after carrying out these exercises, the teacher can ask students to write a reflection on the word "family," and pending those responses decide whether or not to continue with the subject-matter. 

Extensions: This text begins to introduce the concept of a 'home' which might be particularly significant to early grades where students are having separation anxieties. Connecting to different family structures is key in building a community in a classroom. 

  • http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/clip.php
  • http://adoption.suite101.com/article.cfm/talking_to_classmates_about_adoption
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
Tell Me About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis 
In My Heart by Molly Bang
All Kinds of Families by Norma Simon
  • I Wished For You: an Adoption Story by Marianne R. Richmond


Swartz, Larry. Drama Themes: Completely Revised. Ontario Canada: Pembroke Publishers, 1995. Print.

Katz, Karen. Over the Moon. New York, NY: Henry Holt, 1997. Print.

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