Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reflections on Peter and the Wolf

I have taught a half term unit of work on Peter and the Wolf to years 1, 2 and 3. I have shared some of the resources on the blog but I just wanted to capture some of my observations whilst it is fresh in my mind.

1. Importance of place.
Many of the children I work with are really reliant on visual cues and find sustained listening difficult unless they are involved. I marked out the room I was teaching in with vast swathes of fabric to create different zones - eg meadow, house, tress, pond, forest. The children didn't need realistic scenery but accepted the fabric. It did involve lots of huffing and puffing from staff as they watched their rooms being dismantled, tables carted over, chairs removed and fabric hung from the ceiling but it was well worth it! We did a couple of drama lessons based on the scenario of a young friendless boy living with his over protective grandad. The kids came up with a host of woodland friends he could play with. When we listened to the music we moved around the different zones. I used a tip that an AST from Wimbledon Park gave me and started in darkness, blacking out the windows and using light from my phone to usher kids into room.

2. Using props.
I used a scrap of fabric to represent the characters - red silk to represent Peter,  fur to be the cat, blanket for wolf etc. The kids accepted this without a seconds hesitation and passed them round to swap roles. I had been nervous that this would break down but kids were happy to comply.

3. Repetition
The kids weren't in the least worried about re working the story and in fact it was really necessary to hear the music over and over for them to be able to pick out different characters and move to the pulse. I think sometimes my fear that class will be 'bored" means I move on to quickly.

4. Music is scarier than pictures.
I did have to be careful at times and stop the lesson and redirect attention at times because many of the children found the wolf and hunters music quite scary. Interestedly it was the menace of the hunters drums that caused most disquiet rather than wolf. We had very interesting philosophical discussions about the death or non death of the duck. I didn't lead discussion on this but simply responded to the childrens own questions.

5. Use of video.
I used 2 videos - the Royal ballet version and the Breakthrough films stop go animation. We had done about 4 weeks work before I showed them as I was keen for the children to build their own mental images before we watched them. I decided against using the Disney version and the Spitting image/muppet version. The kids were absolutely rapt by both versions we watched, really entranced!
I have waxed lyrically before about the breakthrough film but I can honestly say it is the best animated film I have ever seen. I have watched it over 20 times and yet every time I find something new I havent seen before. The sequence with the duck skating matches the music so beautifully it is quite exquisite. The portrayal of Peter as an awkward unhappy damaged child is very touching and his transformation at the end is very moving. We compared similarities and differences of the 2 films.

6. Ipad apps to support

I used "learn the orchestra" on the whiteboard for the children to compose short tunes on bassoon as GrandDad, clarinet as cat etc. This was very popular with the kids and there was some frustration as everyone had great ideas and they had to wait.

There is an ipad book of the film which I have looked at closely. It is beautiful but comes without the music. However if you decide to show your class the movie for PSHE reasons or simply to share in a good film then I would recommend buying it.

I used pupet pal as an after thought with one class to see how well it would work and it was a great success!

The above are just simple examples to see if we could get it to work. next time I would get them to play and record their music with the animation. But you can see just from the short clips what potential this app has!

7. What next?
I have played the classes Romeo and Juliet music which many of them recognise as The Apprentice music. I play to do some work on the Lieutenant Kije in the winter term. I am now looking for suggestions for music I can do an "active listening" project for next summer. Because I took the decision to use the same starting point for 3 year groups it means I won't be re visiting it until 2015! Suggestions for next year?

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