Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ms. Rubenstein's Beauty

Working With: Vocabulary, Scenery/Setting, and Observation

Objective: Students will build some skills towards understanding relationships between the words and illustrations on the page and engaging with scenery and set design as larger theatrical concepts.

Rationale: Students might view Ms. Rubenstein as a book about self-image or self-confidence. Rather than engage in a discourse about appearance and beauty, this book will serve as a template to talk about technical theatre and stage design. To build an awareness of set design and become proficient theatre participants, students will use the illustrations in Montserrat's book. The appeal of the story will lure them into paying specific attention to the pictures, because the nature of the plot is mysterious until the last few pages. Hopefully, looking closely at the illustrations will help students have a wider awareness of where set designers access ideas for stage productions.

1.Warm Up
a. (For ages 5-7) Any Fabric: Using a few different kinds/colors of fabric, students will interpret what they want the fabric to be. Students will stand in a circle, passing the fabric around and each giving 5-10 words about what they imagine the fabric to be
b. (For ages 8-10) Blob: One student is deemed "the blob." This student will move around the room slowly, stretching and interacting with all obstacles (i.e. desks, chairs, etc.). The goal of the activity for the child to tag another student and then the two (while maintaining contact) continue to move about the room in a very "blob-like" fashion. The game will end when all students have been tagged (Buesgen).

2. Read Ms. Rubenstein's Beauty by Pep Montserrat - while reading the teacher will ask students to notice the illustrations in the book, asking "What do these pictures suggest about the story? What can you predict will happen because of the illustrations?

3.Main Activity
Students will participate in an activity called "Story Can Theatre," as proposed by Lenore Blank Kelner in the book The Creative Classroom 1993. In groups of 3-4, students will receive three index cards with vocabulary words and three miniature toys. The words and toys will all be associated with the illustrations from the (Possible modifications: Younger students can have only objects, and maybe a word that is less challenging/widely used. Older students might have three vocab words, one of which they don't necessarily know, and three toys, etc.) Students will use the words/objects that are in the can to a) 5-7 create three or four sentences relating to Ms. Rubenstein or b) 8-10 create an original story that might serve as an epilogue to Ms. Rubenstein, but has no particular form necessarily.

This activity will help students engage with the sadder aspects of the story, while being able to manipulate the ending (if they should choose to do so) or creating an unrelated story with objects similar to those in the story. The goal of the lesson will be to play with the interaction between vocabulary and illustration or script and scenery. Students will act out their story or series of sentences within the small groups - perhaps for the whole class if time permits.

4. Cool Down

"Texture Walk:" Students will walk around the room as if they are in a variety of places. They will walk with their eyes open until the teacher yells "FREEZE" and shouts out a location, such as "INSIDE A VOLCANO!" Immediately following the location, students will move about as if they are in that location - and the physical limits to that movement are completely flexible. For example, a student might be clever enough that they decide to climb up the side of the volcano, maybe they are wearing a pretend bathing suit, etc (Kelner).

Assessment: The goal of this lesson is to talk about self-image, and in turn, self-consciousness. Rather than engage in a discussion that might embarrass students, we recommend assessments where students work to affirm one another. Drafting or pulling together a collection of ways that students can compliment one another or make one another feel positive about themselves can be done in a variety of ways.

  • Website of teen affirmations that can be partially used in elementary classrooms: http://www.self-help-and-self-development.com/teens_affirmations.html
  • Affirmation songs: http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B00000DGRO/187-5410048-6559761?SubscriptionId=19BAZMZQFZJ6G2QYGCG2
  • The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater is about a man who doesn't mind his house looking different than everyone elses.


Buesgen, Janine M. Theatre Games (1999): n. pag. Web. 1 Nov 2009. .

Kelner, Lenore Blank. The Creative Classroom: A Guide for Using Creative Drama in the Classroom, PreK-6. Portsmouth NH: Heinemann, 1993. Print.

Montserrat, Pep. Ms. Rubenstein's Beauty. New York, NY: Sterling, 2006. Print.

1 comment:

  1. The lessons so far are great, but I'm not sure I understand the overarching theme of the literature being selected. There's a lack of cohesion. Could you explain your process for choosing story books and how they interconnect or if they're intended to connect? It would also be helpful to have a rationale for each lesson that is beyond the objectives for the plan and more focused on the "why" of the lesson.