Birkhill Infants School

The Wicked Witch of the West

Drama as a Curricular Focus

This is an infant school - ages 5-8, UK Key Stages 1-2, just outside Chesterfield. Jackie King, a class teacher at the school, uses drama as a central tool for her teaching. The work she does with the children is integrated into the curriculum, as demonstrated below, but also culminates in a major stage production for which the school has developed a high reputation. The following outlines the processes in developing last year's production of The Wizard of Oz.

There are many photographs of this production available as well as the entire performance on video

The next iteration of this process actually begins in May '99, after that it will not run again until May 2000. We therefor suggest that we use Birkhill as one of the prototype projects so that we have the materials when we come to assemble the whole project. It also gives us something solid to work on before the summer break.

Cross Curricular Drama

Due to the many constraints upon the Primary curriculum now all planning has to be tightly tied into the National Curriculum. At the end of each Summer Term all our Y2 children transfer to the local junior school. We now produce a large end of term concert/show that is the pinnacle of our History and Geography work from the half term.

The Process

The Jitterbugs

We look at the History and Geography Curriculum and choose a vehicle for learning. This year we chose North America and we compared and contrasted it to our locality. We looked at the Native Americans, their lives and customs. We learnt about National holidays in America and how their culture and life style is different to ours.

We talked, discussed and learnt about the climate and the adverse weather they can have out there and this led us into the well known story of The Wizard of Oz.

To begin the show/drama process I read or tell the children the story and explain all the different characters. The children then decide if they would like to take a main part, be part of a group, to narrate or sing. We hold auditions and the children improvise scenes and sing in small groups or as solos. At the end of the audition period when all the children have auditioned for as many or few parts as they wish during dinnertimes, I begin the long and difficult decision of who takes which role.

Rehearsals begin mainly during lunch times; the children work in groups and we improvise one scene at a time. We work through the story and then the children develop their own words and actions.

No script as such is ever written but we link the concert together with read narration. The songs are learnt during singing sessions already established in the curriculum and I play for rehearsals, 'though I find a good pianist for show week. Eventually all the children are taken in the hall and each section is slowly put together.

Somehow it all comes together and a great deal of Drama vocabulary, e.g. dress the stage, enter, exit, presence, project etc. are begun to be used by the children. Eventually the show is learnt through many rehearsals and lots of fun is had by all involved. Tickets are sold and we sell out for all three performances.

The children received a standing ovation on the last night a very proud moment!!!!!!!!!!!!

Parent comment: "It was absolutely fantastic I don’t know how you get them to do it but don’t ever stop they were a credit to you, school, Derbyshire County Council and Drama schools all over the world. Very well done" What more of a reason do you need?


The Planning Process

The following links show the planning process used by Jackie to demonstrate the way The Wizard of Oz fits into the whole curriculum for the year 2 group involved. Click below to see these tables in a separate window, or click the links to the left to keep them in this frame.

Example lesson plan
Example weekly plan
Example annual plan