Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who's in Rabbit's House? (part 2)

The story of "Who's in Rabbit's House?" is a story about fear, friendship and community.  As the story begins, African villagers are gathering together to see a play prepared by other members of the village.  The actors don masks and the play begins...

The Process
1.  Read the story with your class.  This year's class is a real story-loving bunch and they were happy to sit and be captivated by this book.  That doesn't always happen!  Sometimes we have to act out the animals as they appear to give the wigglers some legitimate way to cope with listening to a story.

This year the 2 comments/questions that stood out for me were...
  • "Why is their skin so black?"  (The illustrations show the African villagers with black-black skin...not the typical shade of skin we see everyday in our town.)  We talked about this, as we do with every country we visit this year, and how the skin colors are so varied.

  • "I know what I'd do to get that bad animal out of my house!  I'd just open the door and grab him and throw him out."  (I would bring up the point that this is a story of how the rabbit was afraid of the bad animal and didn't have the courage to open the door.  It is a small moment to open a child's eyes to compassion or empathy.  We actually talked about how obvious it was to just open the door and see what was behind it...and how the story wouldn't have any drama if we did that!)

2.  As you are reading, involve the children in chanting whenever it repeats, "I am the Long One.  I eat trees and trample on elephants.  Go away or I will trample on YOU!"  (you really have to get your own copy of the story to see what I mean...and you will be happy to have's a lovely story)

3.  Explore characterization/moving like each character in the story.  This year we didn't spend as much time on this part compared to years' past.  They were keen to get to the masks and the orchestra parts.
Rabbit - sitting on a log, cleaning up around the outside of rabbit's house/hoeing/sweeing/patting the roof/taking away sticks/emotions of sad and mad/being flung into the lake, laughing
Frog - hiding behind a tree, hopping, laughing and helping, rolling a giant-size jungle leaf into the shape of a bullhorn for calling through.
Jackal - fearful, gathering sticks
Elephant - heavy step, swaying trunk, stomping
Leopard - leaping and scratching
Rhino - charging
The Long One - big scary voice, fearful running away, crawling up into a tree

4.  Gather together the Orff Orchestra and small African percussion instruments for the musical accompaniment.
I will post more photos and detail about how we incorporated the instrument play in tomorrow's Make Me Musical post.

5.  Set the scene for the play with a backdrop, tree, house, log-seat, lake and animal masks.  

6.  Importance of masks in storytelling in some African cultures.  In a couple of days I will post some great close-up pix of the masks I made for use in our class.  The kids love them!

7.  Perform the play together.  I have a script written out based on the story.  It helps the story to move along more fluidly when we are in "play/performance" mode.  


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