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King School

An independent day school educating students PreK-Grade 12

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Acting Out In Lower School
Darnton with Grade 1
Darnton in class

A traditional literature lesson was given a multidisciplinary twist this year in Grade 1. Teachers Julia Rachinsky-Wood and Zach Levine invited Performing Arts teacher Amy Darnton into their classrooms, giving students the opportunity to bring the lesson to life on the stage in the Performing Arts Center.

In the yearly unit Meeting Characters and Learning Lessons: A Study of Story Elements, students begin to expand their reading skills beyond phonetics. 

After reading Iris and Walter and the Field Trip by Elissa Guest, students were asked to identify the characters’ feelings, likes, dislikes, and relationships with other characters. Students used evidence found in their reading, such as patterns in the characters' behaviors and choices, to support their ideas.

Students in theater

To engage students in their work more deeply, Performing Arts teacher Amy Darnton visited the classroom and worked with the students to create a stage production of the book.

Throughout rehearsals, Darnton guided the classes through the fundamentals of drama, focusing on reading through a script while reading lines with expression and enthusiasm. The lessons helped students build confidence in their presentation and public speaking skills as they addressed the audience.

“I learned about drama voices,” said Ellis Steer ’34. “With our classroom voices, we don’t yell, but [in the theater] we can because it's so big.”

Students further embraced their character's identity by creating colorful headbands in art class.

Grade 1 acting

“My goals are for them to understand something about how creating character involves body, voice, and imagination,” said Darnton.

After weeks of rehearsals and preparation, the classes joined together on stage in the Performing Arts Center to present their play to the Grade 2 students. For some, it was their first time on stage.

Cordelia Beverly ’34 felt a range of emotions in the space. “It’s scary, exciting, nervous, and complicated,” she said. After hearing the applause of her lower school peers, she concluded that it was a fun experience.

Students in theater