Bush Elementary School first graders had the unique opportunity to unleash their imaginations with a performance of “The Golden Goose” presented by the Merry-Go-Round Youth Theatre. Jamestown Schools partner with Merry-Go-Round Youth Theater to give every elementary school student in the district an opportunity to see, and participate, in live theater that directly relates to their classroom curriculum.
The first grader’s performance revolved around the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Students become hunters, firefighters, clowns, soldiers, bakers, and elders through sound and motion and learn that it takes many people with different talents to make a town work. The collaboration with the Merry-Go-Round Youth Theater came about as a way to infuse curriculum with more art opportunities.
“The arts-in-education component of JPS students’ education has been sporadic in recent years,” said JPS Superintendent Tim O. Mains, “I’d like it to be more consistent and programmatic. Last year, we began a partnership with Merry-Go-Round Youth Theater to help engage all elementary school students in the arts. We are so pleased with the results — both students and teachers have expressed how much they love the experience.”
Before each performance, the actors visit individual classrooms to explain what happens in the plays with the learning targets of the standards in mind. The intent in the Pre-Performance Workshop is to introduce them to the language, characters, settings and type of story they will see. Students should then be able to make their own predictions about what they will see in the show, allowing for critical thinking to continue throughout the performance. Each grade level receives a different program from the Youth Theater. Kindergarteners see “The Happy Circus” where students become part of a circus by mimicking animals. Students also learn about following directions, working as a group, and creatively using their imaginations as we teach them about musical instruments and animals. Second graders see Aesop’s Fables come to life, along with learning tidbits about Aesop’s life and traditions of Greek theater. Third graders explore the world of China through “The Magic Paintbrush,” which is adapted from an ancient folktale told in the oral tradition and how it relates to modern-day superhero stories. Fourth graders learn more about the Native American tradition with a performance of “There Once Was a Longhouse.” Students actively become part of life in an Iroquois village. The largest youth theatre in Upstate New York and one of the largest in the country, The Merry-Go-Round Youth Theatre reaches more than 125,000 students across the state through its curriculum based multi-discipline Sequential Dramatics Program. The Youth Theater chooses productions that compliment the subject matter to help teachers and students in meeting the Common Core Learning Standards. The program addresses state standards for The Arts, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Career Development & Occupational Studies.