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“How does an ant reduce, reuse and recycle?”

West Newton Elementary

3rd grade classes

September 2014

Program Summary

For one week straight, Monday to Friday, two

3rd grade classes began their school days with

theater activities. Arts for Learning’s Theater &

the Environment residency was implemented

over 5 days with 45 minutes per session/class

aimed at teaching students about the concepts

of reduce, reuse and recycle through fairy tales.


About the School Partner

West Newton Elementary puts creativity at the

core of their identity. They adopted the Artful

Learning model by Leonard Berstein, a school

improvement model that stimulates and deepens

academic learning through the Arts, in strategic

alignment with providing challenging opportunities

for students to develop 21st Century learning skills.

This and the collegial demeanor and creativity of

our school contacts, make for a great partnership

and enriching experience for the students. To learn

more about the school, visit their website here.


The Classes

To extend their learning, the two 3rd grade classes

also hosted Melanie Baugh, an expert in

vermicomposting, prior to the start of the

residency. Melanie’s visit started the conversation

about recycling and composting. They explored

food waste and where it comes from. By the end

of workshop the students had an understanding of

how they can make their food waste into something

useful and left with an individual worm bin

(complete with a pet worm!).


Community Connection

State Representative Justin Moed joined Arts for

Learning at West Newton to view the students'

adaptation of the story. Moed was excited to see

the students learning of composting, reusable

bottles, and urban farming. For the full press release, click here.

Guiding Questions

These questions were formulated by the teaching artist to guide the lessons of the residency. They are to provoke ideas and thinking about Environmental Science through theater.


About the art form:

  1. What do you know about theater?

  2. What do you know about the "The Ant and The Grasshopper" story?


About the environment:

  4. What do you know about reducing, reusing, and recycling?


The Creative & Learning Process

  • Days 1 & 2:

    • Students learned about the elements of theater as an art form and basic acting skills. They learned about the actor’s instruments: body/voice/mind and played theater games. They explored the fairy tale used in the

            residency and had their first “read through" and rehearsal.

  • Days 3 & 4:

    • More fun ensues as the students begin bringing the script to life.  Students explored using props and costumes to enhance their story. The most important work was when they created solutions to the environmental issues in the story. They defined their staging choices, memorized their lines, and rehearsed.

  • Day 5:

    • They executed their final presentation and received feedback from the audience (a group of their peers).

What We Learned

Student Learning: The residency enhanced this class’ preexistent understanding of theater and recycling. As shown in their responses below, they have a good base knowledge about theater, enhanced by the residency as they experienced improvisation, movement pantomime, tableaux, and eventually a short play presentation.


  1. What do you know about theater?

  •    PRE: Students' answers on their first day of the residency

    • Funny voices & things

    • Perform

    • Costumes

    • Act

    • Choreography

    • Painting set

    • Movie theaters

    • Watch acts

  • POST: Their answers on the 5th day, the last day of the residency

    • Telling stories

    • Funny voices

    • Voices, bodies, brains (used by actors)

    • Hold scripts out

    • Be brave and confident

    • "actor neutral"

    • Stand tall

    • Performing

    • Don't be afraid of the audience

    • Focus


   2. What do you know about "The Ant and the Grasshopper" story?

  • PRE

    • Insects

    • One hops, one crawls

    • Get food

    • Little

    • Have faces and a lot of legs

  • POST

    • ​Don't make fun of others

    • Take care of yourself and the earth

    • To reduce, reuse, recycle

    • Share food

    • Don't litter

    • Prepare for what's coming ahead

    • Treat people as you want to be treated


   3. What do you know about reducing, reusing, and recycling?

  • PRE

    • Re-use trash - don't throw away

    • Paper and plastic

    • Recycle

    • Reusable water bottles

    • Don't waste paper and trees

  • POST

    • Litter = pollution

    • Use water bottles to make gardens

    • Share

    • Re-use water bottles

    • Bananas can be used for compost

Closing Thought

“What is the role of the classroom teacher in extending the brainstorming opportunities to allow students to go deeper in their exploration of solutions to a need or problem?”