Literacy Teaching Toolkit video: Journey to Healesville: learning through drama

This video shows children participating in a drama experience centred on the imaginary problem of where to take a baby koala that has been found.

The two educators play characters within the story, and the children are facilitated to play their own parts. Through the experience, they all take a journey from their Centre to Healesville Sanctuary, and back again.

Reflective practice

Observe

  • The way that the educator sets up the drama experience.
  • The links made between the current experience and previous learning.
  • The way drama allows the educator to “think out-loud” and encourage the children to help her come up with solutions to the problem.
  • The educator’s use of questions to recap children’s ideas, plans, and imaginary experiences.
  • The use of digital technology to enhance the experience.
  • The use of discussion and hands-on elements to the experience.
  • The ways that children play their parts in the drama experience.

Reflection questions

  • What does the educator mean by the term “fantastical thinking”?
  • How do the educators support sustained shared thinking?
  • How do the educators maintain the balance between guided and child-directed play?
  • Why were the problem-solving discussions an important part of the experience?
  • How does drama help educators assess children’s learning?
  • How does this experience help develop children’s social skills?

Learning experience plan

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • interacting with others
  • language and emergent literacy learners (30 - 60 months)
  • learning foci: making meaning and expressing ideas (interacting with others), conversation and social skills
  • teaching practice: performing arts (interacting with others).

Links to VEYLDF

Outcome 5: communication

  • Children engage with a range of texts and get meaning from these texts
  • actively use, engage with and share the enjoyment of language and texts in a range of ways
  • Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media
  • use the creative arts, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, drama, dance, movement, music and story-telling, to express ideas and make meaning.

Victorian Curriculum Levels F-2: Literacy

Listen to and respond orally to texts and to the communication of others in informal and structured classroom situations using interaction skills, including listening, while others speak.

Learning intentions

  • Supporting children’s meaning making around the concepts of sustainability, geography, and transport.
  • Facilitating children’s problem solving and negotiating skills.

Assessment of learning

This is demonstrated when children:

  • demonstrate awareness of the koala and its habitat, and ways of taking the koala to a suitable home
  • participate in problem-solving discussions to decide how to solve the various problems within the experience.

Resources

  • koala puppet
  • different item of clothing for “visiting educator” character
  • iPad®, digital tablet, map of Melbourne
  • hat for Ranger character
  • two long pieces of material to represent the bus and river.

Group size

Small group (2-5 children).

Experience process

Before the experience:

  • Create experiences for the children to explore koalas and other native Australian animals, their habitats, and the importance of protecting wildlife for sustainability
  • Introduce children to a map or visual representation of the local area, and discuss ways that children travel around (walking, car, public transport)Invite children to take part in a drama experience.
  1. Invite children to take part in a drama experience. Explain to the children that you will be leaving the room and coming back as a different character:
    • return with a different item of clothing, playing the part of another person, to invite the children into this experience
    • introduce the “problem” of the drama experience: that you have found a baby koala and it is lost. Encourage children to discuss where koalas usually live, and why this is a tricky situation.
  2. Support sustained shared thinking using questions to facilitate discussion, for example:
    • "Hang on a minute, I’m in the city! Why is a baby wombat here?”
    • “What are we going to do?”
    • “What if he doesn’t know where to go?”
    • “What will happen if he stays in the city?”
    • “Where could we take the koala to be safe?”
    • “Do you think that will work?”
    • “Why is that a good idea?”
  3. Use a physical map or digital technology (iPad®) to look up information about Healesville Sanctuary, and how to get there.
  4. Prompt children to think about what they would need to do,  if these were real-life situations, for example:
    • how to get to Healesville
    • what to bring
    • the importance of leaving a note
    • how to know when you have arrived
    • where in the sanctuary to take the baby koala
    • how to travel home.
  5. Guide children through the experience and be open to trying new ideas and following the children’s lead.
  6. At the end of the experience, when you return to the room as yourself, ask the group where they have been and facilitate a discussion about what had happened while you were gone.

Going further

This experience can be extended by facilitating children’s recount of the experience, and their favourite parts of the experience through additional play, writing, and fine arts experiences.

Additional/Alternate resources

This experience can be adapted to any topic, theme, or interest of children. Educators can use additional elements such as more props, costumes, instruments, and visuals, to enhance the drama experience.

Related videos and learning experience plans

Videos

Experience plans

Links to sections