Doing plays in English is very popular in Japanese schools. The only problem
is that very often they tend to use Japanese plays which then get translated
into strange English! So I'd recommend taking famous Western stories that
the kids know and doing them in the cool English that we all know and love.
And by far the easiest one to teach is "The 3 little pigs". But
before you do it as a play, it's a cool lesson in its own right!
1. First of all I draw 4 trees and a road on the board, teaching the kids the words for "tree" and "road"
2. Then I introduce the 3 little pigs by using "This is .......". In the gaps in the trees I fasten (using magnets) a picture of each pig in turn. Some amazing pictures can be obtained from the site "Illustrated 3 little pigs"
3. Now introduce the "big bad wolf" - getting them to boo and him is a good idea!
3. Tell the story of how the straw, wood and brick houses are made, placing a picture of each house in the spaces between the trees. When you change from one pig to the next you sing the chorus of the song "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf". Kids often know this in their own language!
4. Teach the kids the phrases "Little pig, little pig, let me in" and "not by the hair on my chinny, chin chin" (gets a big laugh, as you'll know if you speak any Japanese!) and "Well, I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!".
5. Replace the picture of the straw house with a picture of it destroyed!
6. Say the pig escaped and together sing "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf" as you move to the next house.
7. Do the "Little pig, little pig, let me in" and "not by the hair on my chinny, chin chin" phrases again, this time letting the kids say them out loud with you.
8. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the wood house.
9. Finish the story in which ever version you feel most comfortable with. I usually just have him going to the brick house, they do the skit, the wolf tries to climb down the chimney and gets boiled in the pot over the fire!! The one on the site above is maybe a little long.
This sounds tricky but is very effective. The kids already know the story in Japanese so if you only speak English they'll be able to follow. By the use of repeated phrases, and the song the kids learn them, and because they are interacting with the story (instead of just having it told to them) they really get involved and enjoy it!!
It's then great to do as school play. My first year kids actually did this, in English, at a school festival, everyone was very impressed! The trick is to have the story narration done in Japanese, so that the parents can follow, and the kids speak the lines of the chracters i.e. "Little pig, little pig, let me in" etc. Adding the song in makes it all work wonderfully well together! It was a few weeks work, and I had to give them recordings of me saying the lines, but these first grade elementary school kids did a great job!
If you can introduce the words "big","little","pig" and "wolf" in a vocab lesson beforehand then it really helps them to see that the English they already know can be used for a "real" purpose, not just as a school exercise!
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