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Study Guide

Table of Contents About Our Production of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates Synopsis.............................................................................................................4 Meet the Cast..................................................................................................7 From Page to Stage: Costumes.....................................................................8 Setting the Stage: Activity.............................................................................9 Lesson Plans and Activities What’s in a Word: Vocabulary....................................................................10 Reflection Questions....................................................................................11 The Legend the Little Dutch Boy.............................................................12 Lessons.............................................................................................................13 Activity Worksheets......................................................................................19

Supplemental lesson plan created and designed by Alison Pajonk Lessons 1 and 2 created by Brittany Brewer Supervised by Jose Aviles For more information or questions, please contact: Jose Aviles, Director of Education Outreach Arden Theatre Company javiles@ardentheatre.org • 215-922-1900 x128

Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates Synopsis The story begins and we meet brother and sister, Hans and Gretel Brinker, as they spend the afternoon outside of their home in Holland reading and ice skating. Gretel falls onto the ice and tells Hans her dream of one day owning a pair of metal skates. The wooden ones that Hans carved for her are very slow and always cause her to trip. Hans insists that they must make do with what they have. Since their father became sick, Hans and Gretel have stopped attending school since the accident in order to work to support their family. A group of rich children pass by and bully Hans and Gretel for being “rag pickers” and not going to school. One of the children, Heidi van Gleck, has heard their father has been in an accident and doesn’t take part in the teasing. Her friend, Peter von Holp, scolds her for trying to help. He argues that they have never cared about the Brinkers before, and their father’s illness is none of their business. Hans returns home and tells his mother that he will be selling his last book, which was their main source of income. Disappointed by this news, she goes to rest while Gretel takes care of their father. Gretel takes out a silver watch from a small wooden box, which she remembers is only to be sold if the family were to starve without the money. Hans refuses to sell the watch, and he seems to know something about it that Gretel does not. He tells her the story of the watch: “Before his accident, Father made a living working on the dykes, patching leaks in the giant walls near the sea that protect the city from flooding. He returned home one night in the pouring rain, holding the silver watch. Father told mother that a poor boy had given it to him on his way home and asked him to send it to his father. The boy said he had committed a crime ‘like murder,’ and would not return home. He had disappeared so quickly that Father did not have time to write down the boy’s name. When he arrived home, Father began to write the name, but an alarm sounded. This meant there was an emergency leak that needed to be fixed. He told Mother to place the watch with their savings, but he had changed its hiding place. The alarm sounded again and he rushed out, saying he would tell her where the money was hidden when he returned. During the storm, Father fell from the scaffolding, was nearly killed, and was brought home in with no memory and has not been able to speak ever since.” Hans leaves for Amsterdam to sell his book at the market. While he is gone, Gretel dreams of having pair of metal skates and making friends with the other children at school. When Hans returns, he runs into Doctor Boekman, the finest surgeon in Holland. He asks his assistant, Vollenhoven if the doctor would consider seeing his father. Vollenhoven refuses, saying, that the doctor is very busy and can only see patients with appointments. Doctor Boekman adds that he does not give to beggars, and the two leave Hans behind.


Hans Brinker Synopsis Continued... The next morning, Raff has a high fever and Dame Brinker is struggling to help him rest. Suddenly, he leaps up and grabs a knife from the kitchen table. Hans tries to get the knife from him, but Raff continues to slash towards him. Thinking quickly, Gretel puts a bowl of porridge on the table, hoping to distract him. Raff drops the knife and begins to eat. The family becomes extremely worried about his fever, and fear they do not have enough money for a doctor who will be able to help. While traveling to the market to sell some of his hand-carved wooden necklaces, Hans runs into Heidi on the street. She compliments Hans on how well he and Gretel skate on wooden blades, and hands him a pair of her old metal skates to give to his sister. He refuses, saying they do not take anything they do not earn. Heidi insists that he take them, and tells him about a skating contest that she believes Gretel could win. If she did, she would receive a pair of fine silver skates. Heidi asks if she can pay him for one of his beautiful necklaces. He agrees, but will still not accept the skates. Gretel arrives and makes a deal with Heidi to borrow the skates, just for the race, and return them the same day. The rich children return and warn Gretel that shouldn’t bother entering the race. The crowd leaves for school, and Gretel tries to convince Hans to sell the skates at the market to pay for a doctor. He explains to her that they would have to make over fifty times the amount they would make from the skates in order to find someone skilled enough. Becoming frustrated, she stands up to her brother and tells him he has been too afraid to ask for the help they need. After an intense debate, Hans finally agrees to find Doctor Boekman and try once again to persuade him to come see their father. Later that afternoon, Hans arrives at Doctor Boekman’s office. He begs Vollenhoven to reconsider and make an appointment for his father. He tells Hans that he should not have come, and that the doctor requires a large fee that he would never be able to afford. Doctor Boekman enters and Hans pleads for his help, saying that he wouldn’t expect his father to live through the night. This softens the doctor, and he asks Hans to tell him more about the accident. He listens, and informs Hans that there is little hope for his father’s recovery, but he will examine him because it is such an unusual case. At the Brinker cottage, Raff’s fever has gotten even worse. Doctor Boekman quickly examines him, and recalls a case very similar to this one. Another doctor had performed surgery on a patient who had fallen and was in a similar state of helplessness. He found a small dark sac that was pressing on the patient’s brain, and determined it was the cause of the illness. Doctor Boekman informed the family that it would be a huge risk to operate, but their father would likely die in a few days from the pressure on his brain if he did not. During the surgery, the family sends Gretel to the creek to skate and keep her mind off of her father. Heidi finds her on the ice and warns her that it is too cold to be outside, and that she should return to her house. Gretel and Heidi hear Raff’s moans coming from inside. Gretel explains her father’s situation, which brings Heidi to tears.


Hans Brinker Synopsis Continued... Heidi encourages Gretel to continue skating, and think about nothing else but the ice. She takes this advice and skates more beautifully than she has ever done before. The rich children catch a glimpse of her routine and demand to know where she received her new metal skates. Katrinka, the leader of their clique, is secretly very nervous about the upcoming race. She and Carl bully Gretel once again and promise to keep her from competing in the race. Heidi and Peter stand up for Gretel, realizing they’re not as much like their friends as they had originally thought. Gretel returns to the Brinker cottage, and receives the good news that her father has survived the operation. Hans invites her to go see him, but she is too afraid. Gretel explains that she has secretly wished for her father’s death to relieve both her father and the rest of the family from this stress. She thought it would be a relief to let go of him and the money, and now feels wicked for having such thoughts. Hans assures her that he understands her pain, and that they will find a way to face the future together, no matter what. The next morning, Hans sits by the fire after spending all night carving Heidi’s necklace. Raff wakes up and shouts, getting louder and louder. Hans rushes to his bedside along with his mother and sister. For the first time in years, Raff wakes up and recognizes his family. He tells them he feels like he has woken from a long dream, and asks how long he has been asleep. Reluctantly, Dame Brinker informs him of the accident that occurred ten years ago. Raff is stunned and can’t believe how time has passed. He asks how they have survived and taken such good care of him for so long without any wages. Raff then remembers their savings, assuming they have been spending it, and states how thankful he is that he let his wife know where it was before his fall. Hans asked his father if he remembers where it was hidden, without hinting that they had never been told. Raff remembers clearly that he had buried the money on the south side of the willow tree next to the cottage. This brings Hans such joy that he can barely contain himself. When Raff falls asleep, he hurries outside to begin digging. Later that afternoon, we find Hans and Gretel in the yard, still digging by the willow tree. The two share their dreams of what they would do if they found the money. Gretel wishes for a cow, so the family would always have fresh milk, and a cartload of whitewood for Hans to use for his carvings. Hans wishes for every book in the book store that had ever wanted to read. After hours of digging with no success, they return to the cottage, feeling defeated. Inside, they find Vollenhoven and Doctor Boekman who have come to visit. The family thanks the two for their generosity in their time of need, and Hans apologizes for his inability to pay them for their kind work. Gretel remembers the watch, and suggests that Hans offer it to the doctor to show their gratitude.


Hans Brinker Synopsis Continued... Doctor Boekman catches a glimpse of the shiny silver watch and demands to know where they had gotten it from. Dame Brinker explains the story of the watch, and the doctor grabs it, reading the inscription, “L.J.B.” the night he disappeared. He explains that those are his son’s initials, and that the watch had belonged to him. He begs Raff to remember where the boy said he was fleeing to, but sadly he does not. All Raff can remember are the words “figs and ham,” which mean nothing to the doctor. Before he leaves, Hans makes a promise to the Doctor to tell him if his father ever remembers the address his son gave him on The next day, Hans and Gretel meet Peter and Heidi to deliver the necklace for Peter’s mother. Peter apologizes to Hans for not having enough of his allowance to pay for the gift, but offers a pair of his old metal skates instead. Hans agrees, though he later tells Gretel about his fear of losing the big race. Gretel encourages him to face his fears and do everything he can to beat the school bullies. He realizes she is right, and they prepare for the race. After a neck and neck race, Gretel comes from behind and is able to beat Heidi and Katrinka. She finally receives the pair of silver skates that she has been dreaming of. As the boys prepare to race, Peter realizes he has a broken strap and will most likely fall if he tries to skate. Hans sees this, offers one of his own straps, and forfeits the competition. The race comes down to just Peter and Carl Voost. They take their marks at the starting line and wait for the gun to sound. After another neck and neck race, Peter takes first place! Hans and Gretel celebrate with their friends and rush home to share the exciting news with their parents. That evening, they dig under one last tree in their yard and find Raff’s savings; just where he had remembered it to be. It was a joyful day for all in the Brinker cottage. On St. Nicholas day, Doctor Boekman arrives at the Brinker cottage to celebrate with the family. He has gifts for both Hans and Gretel, and asks that they open them immediately. Gretel receives a pair of skate guards for her new skates, and Hans receives a book of Anatomy. When he notices Hans’ puzzled expression at the sight of the book, Doctor Boekman explains that he would like to invite Hans to be a student in his office and help him achieve his dream of becoming a physician. The family is overjoyed by this news, and the children admire their gifts. Doctor Boekman sees Gretel’s skates in their case and asks if he can take a closer look. He notices the stamp of the maker on the side, and reads the name Thomas Higgs. This name sounds extremely familiar to Raff, and he finally recalls why the words “figs and ham” stuck out in his mind. The doctor’s son had asked him to send a message to Thomas Higgs in Birmingham. The doctor can now find his son after ten years of being apart! He immediately runs to send a letter. The Brinker family couldn’t be happier with the day’s events. Just like Gretel’s dream, they all put on their skates and spends the day out on the ice, together at last.


Meet Our Cast

Lauren Hirte Gretel Brinker

Brian Ratcliffe Hans Brinker

Ciji Prosser Heidi Van Gleck

Matteo Scammell Peter Von Holp/ Vollenhoven

Rachel Camp Dame Brinker/ Katrinka Vos

Ed Swidey Raff Brinker/ Announcer

Steven A. Wright Doctor Boekman/Carl


From Page to Stage: Costumes

Raff Brinker

Carl Voost

Heidi Van Gleck

Peter Von Holp


Gretel Brinker

Hans Brinker

Setting the Stage: Activity

Before the set is built in real life, the set designer creates a model to be sure everything fits in the space and looks the way they had intended. The director may also use the model during rehearsals to see where they would like actors to stand during certain scenes. Using the spece below, sketch a design that you would use to create the set for the African Folk Tale “The Magic Crocodile� and share it with your class!



Draw your sketch here!



What’s in a Word: Vocabulary Words Dyke - a long wall built to prevent flooding from the sea.

Scaffolding - a high platform built as a support for workers Debate - a discussion about why two people feel differently about a problem, and why they feel that way Plead - to make an excuse or defend a decision Encourage - to try to convince someone into doing something or feeling a certain way Glimpse - a quick look Clique - a small group of people who keep out outsiders Stunned - to be shocked or in disbelief Generosity - willingness to give Inability - not having the ability, power, or means to do something Inscription - a carved piece of writing Forfeit - to give up or quit Puzzled - confused


What Do You Remember? 1.

Why are Hans and Gretel not able to attend school?


What item did a stranger give to Raff Brinker on the night of the storm?


Who are the two bullies who vow to beat Hans and Gretel in the big skating race?


What does Hans sell to make a living for his family?


Who are the two winners of the skating race?


Where do Hans and Gretel find the money that Raff had buried ten years ago?


What do the words “figs” and “ham” really mean to Raff at the end of the play?

What Would You Do? 1.

If you were Hans, would you give your skate strap to Peter, or would you keep it to race?


If you were Heidi, would you have strayed away from the popular crowd to help Gretel?


If you were Gretel, would you stay home to help your family take care of your father, or would you go to school?


The Legend of the Little Dutch Boy (Hans Brinker) One day, a young boy went to visit his blind, elderly friend, Mr. Janssen. After a pleasant visit, he started walking home. On his way, though, he was distracted by the flowers, the butterflies and the birds. He played for many happy hours near the dikes that ran by the road. The dikes were large walls that held back the sea. Every child in Holland knows that if the dikes break, water will rush in and all will be lost. Hans was so busy playing that he didn’t notice the sun setting. When he realized how late it was, he speedily headed for home. On his way, though, he heard water trickling. There in the dike was a small hole. Hans knew that left untended, the hold would grow larger and the sea would come crashing through. He quickly put his finger in the dike and cried for help, but alas, no help came. All night long, Hans sat there with his finger in the dark. He was very cold and very frightened. In the morning, a priest came along the road and heard Hans’ moans for help. The priest quickly called for others to come and repair the dike and he carried the boy home. All the people cheered for Hans, the boy who saved Holland.

Fun Facts About The Little Dutch Boy Who Saved Holland • • • • • •

This story is not an authentic Danish legend. The dikes of Holland are made of sand and clay. If a dike starts to crumble, sticking your finger in it won’t help much. People love this story because it celebrates a young boy’s bravery. This story is also called “Hans Brinker” or “The Silver Skates”. You can visit a Hans Brinker Park in the Netherlands and see the statue pictured above!


Lesson 1 - Social Studies - Heritage and Culture Goals:

• • • • • •

Materials: • • • • •

Identify the parts of society that make up culture (including the term “heritage”). Research a particular culture (in a group). Determine moments in “The Legend of the Little Dutch Boy” that offer informa tion about Dutch culture. Analyze a folktale. Decide which parts offer/teach information about its culture. Compose a letter to a student across the world. Copies of folktales from several different countries. Copies of (or a way to project) “The Legend of the Little Dutch Boy” Paper Pencils Envelopes

Objectives: The students will be able to explain general definitions of “heritage” and “culture”, including components that contribute to the latter. In addition, students will be able to identify cultural information as it exists in folktales and discuss similarities and differences with others. Finally, students will be able to articulate in writing what they have learned by describing similarities/differences, asking questions, sharing observations, and sharing opinions. Anticipatory Set: Talk briefly with students about the term “heritage”. Ask students to share the countr(y/ies) their ancestors came from. Record answers. Talk briefly with students about the term “culture”.


Lesson 1 Continued Guided Practice: Share with students that folktales vary culture to culture and we can learn more about cultures by reading their folktales. Read “The Little Dutch Boy”. Point out moments where the story helps readers learn more about the Dutch culture. Independent Practice: Break students into groups. Assign them short folktales from different countries to read (ideally that pool of stories would include some of the countries recorded earlier). Ask students to identify what the folktale helps them learn about the culture (or maybe what it is lacking). What is similar to “The Little Dutch Boy”? What is different? Students share out. Assignment: Students write a letter to a student across the world (maybe this is a real opportunity, maybe it is fictional…ideally students will write to an individual from originating country of their folktale). The letter could: • Discuss what the student learned about the culture • Share what they really enjoyed about the folktale • Ask about the receiving students’ knowledge/preference of folktales • Share another folktale with the student (“The Little Dutch Boy” or a personal folktale) • Share observations between that folktale and another (“The Little Dutch Boy” or a personal folktale) • Ask questions about the receiving students’ culture • Share about their own culture Assessment: Students will read their letters (or their favorite chunk of their letters) aloud to the class.


Lesson 2 - Social Studies - Class System Goals

Recognize what social classes are/ what it means. Identify how jobs, education, and other qualifiers play a role in class. Analyze human needs and how that connects to money/social class. Evaluate different jobs, their average salaries, and the average experience (or education) required Choose a job that interests them and create some goals for this year that could help them towards achieving that.


Fake Money Board/Board markers Paper/ pencils for students Computers (or printed resource material) for students to share and research jobs


The students will be able to recognize what social classes are and how not having money can prevent access to certain wants or needs. Students will also be able to discuss different types of jobs and describe the correlation of education to salaries. Finally, students will be able to research a jobs on their own.

Anticipatory Set •

On the board, list a number of items that are on sale. Examples: candy bar, Nike shoes, iPod, soc cer ball, a book, etc. (You could make this shop Hans Brinker themed, if you want!) Pricing doesn’t need to be accurate to today’s prices (but could be) as long as we get that some items are much more expensive. • Provide students with different amounts of play money. Ask students to write down how much money they have and what they want to buy with their money from the shop on the board. • Go around the room and have students share what they have written down. (This should be done in a way that they realize some students have much more money than others)

Guided Practice:

Teacher Guided Discussion Have you heard of social classes before/ what does that phrase mean? • Different groups of people categorized by how much money and opportunity they have. • Typically, there are three groups: Less, Average, Most/ Poor, Middle, Rich/ Wealthy.


Lesson 2 Continued

What are some things we, as humans, need to survive? • Food, Water, Air, Shelter – Things to think about: • Do you feel more satisfied/ have more energy from some foods than others (or than just candy?) • Price contrast of “healthier” foods versus “less healthy” foods • Price in different kinds of housing or where housing is (close or far from work, a city, etc.) What are some more things that we need to lead a healthier life? • Education (What’s something that you need to have in order to get a job?) • Doctor’s visits (What happens when you get sick?) • Transportation (public or car or walking)

Independent Practice


• •

Divide your students into small groups. Before class, select several types of jobs and assign them to groups at random. Ask students to research and write down what the job expects its employees to do, the average salary, and the education (including vocational training, etc) required to qualify for the position. (Think: Where does money come from? How does this relate to education? What happens when someone has zero dollars?)

• Each group should share out their findings. • Write down the job, average salary, and required education on the board. • Guide students in noticing the corresponding differences in education and salary. • Have students sort jobs into three groups based on salary. How is salary sometimes different than the “happiness” value you can get from different jobs? • Ask students to, on their own, write about what they would like to do when they grow up. • Have students find out what kind of education/ training is needed for that kind of job. • Finally, students should also write about what they can do this year to help them towards that goal.

Possible online activity for older students: http://playspent.org/html/


Lesson 4- Acts of Kindness Goals:

For students to connect the themes of kindness and giving from the stories they have read to their everyday lives. They will learn what it takes to strategize and help one another as a team through a classroom activity. Students will also learn about a local organization that is helping families in their own city, and have the opportunity to participate in that support.

Anticipatory Set: Reading Assignment: Have students read the synopsis of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates Warm-up Activity: Toxic Swamp Crossing 1. Before class, mark the “Toxic Swamp” boundaries with masking tape. Make the swamp the length of the room. If you have a large space, the “Toxic Swamp should cover about half the length of a basketball court. 2. Divide students into teams of 7 or 10. Once all players are assigned to a team, have the teams stand at one end of the swamp and explain that the goal of the game is to cross the swamp as a team. 3. Explain the following rules: • Each team will be given “Toxic Swamp Boards”, which can be sheets of paper or cardboard, one board per player, minus one (for example if a team has seven players, they will receive six boards). If they lose any throughout the game, they will not receive any more. • The boards keep players safe from the swamp as long as it remains on the floor, and a player is touching it with a hand, foot, toe, or finger. If no one is touching the board, it will dissolve into the swamp (the teacher will take it).


Lesson 4 Continued • If a player steps outside of the swamp boundaries then the entire team must go back to the beginning and start over. • The entire team must cross the swamp and no one may be left behind. If one player is left behind, the entire team must start over. The students can move in groups. 4. Give the students their swamp boards and give them five minutes to develop a strategy for crossing the swamp. 5. Depending on the maturity and skills of the class, the teams should complete the task without talking. This will challenge both the students’ non-verbal skills and their ability to work as a team. 6. There is more than one way to cross the swamp. While teams may come up with a new and creative solution, here are some ways it can be done: 1. Have a few players cross at a time setting down a certain number of boards (keeping physical contact with each board), stepping across (stepstone fashion), and get “the few” to the other side. One person would then then cross back to the other side of the swamp (using the boards as they go) and get a few more teammates. The team could continue until everyone has crossed the swamp 2. Have the first player in line put a board in front of themselves and stand on it. The team would then pass another board to the first player who would put the new boards out in front of themselves (continually making contact with the board) and straddle both boards The next player in line would put one foot on the second board in the swamp, sharing the space with the first player until they move to the next board.


Lesson 4 Continued Activity: • Just like the theme of kindness and giving in Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, you can give back to members of the Philadelphia community with the help of your class. The Ronald McDonald house offers many in-person volunteer opportunities are strictly for those 18 years of age or older, however you and your students can make a major contribution by collecting non-perishable food items for the house pantry, as well as tabs from aluminum soda cans that are recycled and used to help to fund the operating costs of the Ronald McDonald Houses in Philadelphia.

Ronald McDonald House Mission The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House supports families of seriously ill children by creating a community of comfort and hope.

About the Ronald Mcdonald House Philadelphia Chapter

• “Our programs include two Ronald McDonald Houses, two Ronald McDonald Family Rooms at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a Hospitality Kiosk at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and a Ronald McDonald Camp. 90% of our funding comes from individuals and corporate donors, and the remaining 10% is provided by Ronald McDonald House Charities. While it costs the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House over $100 a night per family to provide housing and supportive services, families are only asked to contribute $15 per night. No one is ever turned away due to inability to pay.”

Preferred Food Drive Items

• Single serve packets of cereal and pop tarts • Granola and oatmeal bars Condiments • Vegetable juice • Single serve healthy fruit juices and soy milk • Family-size cereal (variety) • Single serve applesauce • Dried fruit • Pretzels • Goldfish crackers


• Popcorn • Microwavable foods • Spicy or sour snacks • Sugar-free food and treats • Gluten-free food and treats • Jam/jelly • Honey • Splenda and Equal sweeteners • Cooking oil (vegetable, canola, olive oil) • Disposable plates, bowls, and plasticware
















Help Hans skate through the maze to get to his sister, Gretel! START


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Hans Brinker Study Guide  

Hans Brinker Study Guide