What goes in an enjoyable, for both students and teachers, pre-school recital? What are some of the things you need to give prominence to when planning for and practicing your school play? Through some bitter-sweet trial and error, I concocted the ‘successful preschool recital’ meal. For the most part, every recital is a function of hard-work, involvement, enthusiasm, and continuous practice with emphasis on living up to the potential of the real characters. These are the building blocks of any recital, regardless of age or topic. What sort of substance do you need to prepare and fill the spaces between the blocks to hold them together? The main ingredients I recommend can be classified as follows: real-life references, repetition, jokes (age-appropriate humor), and lots of songs.
What I mean by ‘real-life’ references is opportunities for the kids to use the sentences from the script (with some creative twists) in their every day life. This year we are doing “Wizard of Oz” and we imaginatively transformed and transferred one of the story’s signature scenes, with its accompanying phrase “Take me back to Kansas!”, to the playground! After we finish playing in the snow and before we head back in, we pretend to be clicking our heels (analogous to what Dorothy does at the end of the story) when we are actually cleaning the snow from the soles of our boots while exclaiming “Take me back to the classroom!”
Similarly, the phrase “I am happy to see you!” uttered by Oz upon Dorothy’s return with the broomstick became the greeting of the week after we came back from the winter break.
Witch: “Did you have a pleasant flight?
Dorothy: “How can anyone be so mean?“
Witch: “Lots and lots of practice.“
List of the songs we used for our re-make of the Wizard of Oz story.
Scarecrow – Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal
Tin Man – Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster
Lion – Sara Bareilles – Brave
On the way to the castle – Sia – Unstoppable
Battle between the monkeys and the main characters – Tones and I – Dance Monkey
Closing – Bebe Rexha – Beautiful Life
Tips and Tricks
Learning when to take a quick pause during the dialogue with the help of a puppet.
The cherry on the cake has always been the opportunities for imagination and experimentation that lay ahead after the performance. Bring back to the classroom all the props and costumes and see what happens when the performance is over and kids drop their guard. Prime the students by ‘staging’ one performance where they swap their roles. This will surely propel them towards experimenting and imagining new roles, creating new scenes and applying some of the phrases to them. It can get to a point when you have hybrid characters and kids exclaiming “Welcome to Disneyland!” It is a truly organic learning experience with tons of fun!