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World-class theatre for children

Activity Pack The Wind in the Willows Page 1 Polka Theatre 240 Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1SB +44 (0)20 8543 4888

All of the exercises are suitable for both KS1 and KS2 pupils. Where the exercise has been extended for KS2, this will be indicated with an icon. Warm-up Exercises Yes lets! In a hall or large classroom ask the class to begin moving around the space, making sure to use all areas of the room, not walking in circles and being aware of each other. Start by calling out ‘Let’s all...’ and add in a movement or action that relates to the animals and elements in the play. The class will respond by saying ‘Yes lets!’ They then begin to do as they have been asked. For example, the teacher might call out, ‘Let’s all hop like Toad’ the students respond with ‘Yes Lets!’ and begin to hop. They then carry on walking around the space. Once this has been established with various different commands relating to the story of The Wind in the Willows you can ask a student each time to call out a suggestion which the class will respond to with ‘Yes Lets!’ Some good examples include: ‘let’s all dig like Badger’, ‘let’s all splash like the river’, ‘let’s all row like Ratty’, ‘let’s all hide like Wild Wooders’, ‘let’s all quack like ducks’. Whose house? Label each corner of the room as, Ratty’s Riverbank House, Mole’s House, Badger’s House and Toad Hall. Ask the class to stand in the centre of the room and call out objects that you would find at each house. The class will then run to that corner and the last one there is then out of the game. For example: Where would you find a rowing boat? The class run to Ratty’s House Where would you find long dark tunnels? The class run to Badger’s House Where would you find a gypsy caravan? The class run to Toad Hall Where would you do spring cleaning? The class run to Mole’s House Which is the finest house on the river? The class run to Toad Hall and so on. Page 2 Polka Theatre 240 Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1SB +44 (0)20 8543 4888

Exercises Soundscapes This exercise brings the class into the world of the play and helps them to think about the setting and landscapes of the play. The exercise could also be extended to get the class thinking about different animal habitats. Ask the class to consider the various different settings of The Wind in the Willows. As a group discuss what these various places would be like. For example; what is Badger’s house like? What would it smell like, how dark would it be, is it dry or damp, is it comfortable. What would it sound like? Once they have begun to get an idea of what a place is like you can begin creating a soundscape. Ask them to form a circle. Using their voices and other objects in the room, they will paint a soundscape of a particular place. Teacher note: The sounds can be animal noises, wind or water noises, human voices or the noise of machines etc. Some other locations could include: The River Bank, The Wild Wood at night, a Human Village, Mole’s House. Research The story of The Wind in the Willows focuses on British woodland animals. In pairs ask them to put together a fact file based on a chosen animal that features in the play. They must find out where this animal lives, what it eats, does it live on its own, how long it Ask them to find five other interesting facts, as well as images they have collected and illustrations including the animal, its environment its food etc. Radio Advert Split the class into groups of five or six. In their groups they can discuss what they remember from the play, what they liked, who their favourite characters are and what their favourite part was. They must think about who they are selling it to, why someone should come and see it, and be clear about the facts. They can also include a short devised extract from the play to attract their audience. Key Facts The Wind in the Willows 23rd November 2012 - 16 February 2013, 5 - 11 year olds, Polka Theatre Wimbledon.

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Frozen Image Stories Divide the class into small groups of four to six. Ask them to tell the story of The Wind in the Willows through five frozen images. After they have practiced moving between each scene they can share these five frozen images back to the class. Ask the audience to close their eyes. When the group has its first image ready, tell the class to open their eyes. The audience open their eyes for a few moments and look at the scene. The audience then are asked to close their eyes while the next scene is set up and so on until they have seen all five images. As an extension ask the groups to choose one of the five frozen images to create a short devised scene with action and words or sounds. Ask them to think about what happens at the beginning of the scene, what action happens and how the scene is resolved at the end. These can then be presented back to the class. Seasonal Poetry The play is set at various times of the year; each season is brought to life through a song. Read the two songs below to the class to inspire their own poetry about their chosen season. Ask them to think about the images that are being created and the atmosphere the words evoke. Ask them to think about what they like about that that time of year, what is special, what you can do that is fun at that time of year. These facts should then help them create poems of their own based on their favourite time of the year. Summer;

Let’s sing of the long days of summer, Still misty daybreak, Radiant mornings, Seeming to stretch out for ever, To languorous middays, And warm afternoons. Let’s sing of the wild flowers of summer! Loosestrife and willow-herb, Meadow-sweet and comfrey, Nodding along the bank of the river, The purple, the pink, The amber and white. Let’s sing of the great joys of summer! Boating and bathing, Dusty lane drives, The times that we spend all together, With sun hot above, Our friends by our side.

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The green has given way to gold, A new chill cools the air, The rowans start to redden – Tawny fierceness everywhere. Long skeins of geese pass overhead, Destined for the south. Ripe berries stain bright purple Paws, and fur, and mouth. The harvest’s being gathered in, The robin’s heard once more, And animals make busy Gathering winter stores. Autumn’s mellow fruitfulness, Warns winter’s nearly here, Let everyone now sing and praise The turning of the year!

Building the Characters To get the class to think about the characters from the play split the class into four or five groups. Give each group a character from the play; Mole, Ratty, Badger, Toad and Wild Wooders. Using a large sheet of paper ask them to draw around one of them or to draw the outline of a body. Ask them to write onto the drawing words or phrases they know about the character. They can include known facts such as physical appearance, location and occupation, as well as ideas such as likes/dislikes, friends/enemies, attitudes, motivations, and dreams. These can be stuck to the wall to help with the next exercise. As an extension ask the class to begin to think about the physicality of each animal. Get the group to think about how the actors portrayed the physicality of the animals. Did they do it very subtly or was it suggested through costume? Get the group to discuss the performance aspects. To begin with ask the class to move around the space as a chosen animal, at this point they should act as closely to the animal as possible. Ask them to consider how quickly this animal moves, is it a heavy animal, is it frightened, it is in a hurry, does it hunt or is it hunted. Get the group to really focus on the rhythm of that animal. Is it slow and languid or are its movements quick and sharp? In the play the actors integrate human and animal characteristics to portray the animals. Page 5 Polka Theatre 240 Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1SB +44 (0)20 8543 4888

You can stop the exercise at any point to ask for volunteers to show back to the class. When they have explored each stage and have shared examples ask them which number is the most interesting to watch as a character in a play. Still moving around the space they will slowly change from being all animal to all human; you can label the most animal stage at 1 and the most human stage as 10. Around 5 in the process they will be a good blend of both, an animal with human characteristics and physicality. These characters can then be used in devised pieces and to influence other exercises. Costume Design Ask the class to decide on a character they would like to design a costume for. They can refer to the Building the Character exercise. Ask them to keep in mind; where their character lives, what they like doing, what their personality is like, what colours or patterns they might like, and what the real animal looks like so we know who they are. Like a professional costume designer; ask them to think about the materials they would use to create their costume. They can include scraps of fabric in their final piece, or take images from news papers or magazines to create a mood board for their character.

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The Wind in the Willows  
The Wind in the Willows  

Activity Pack for teachers