Each presentation is 45 minutes long and includes two multicultural folktales. If you have a preference for a particular story please discuss it with your assembly coordinator. We are happy to honor requests whenever possible. Please use the activities on this page to prepare your students for the program. The links for in depth study guides for each story are provided below.
Dennis and Kimberly
Story specific Study Guides for "Star Studded Stories"
Star Studded Stories (May 2019 - May 2020) is presented by 2 professional performers at schools and libraries all across the United States.
About the Actors
Actors rehearse for months to learn their parts in the show. They must know their lines and be able to portray multiple characters. They must also be able to sing, dance and perform physical tricks and stunts.
In perpetual motion both on and off stage
The Act!vated Actors, Dennis and Kimberly Goza have worked together producing theatre since 1988. On stage they are a whirlwind of action; incorporating a wide variety of performance art skills to entertain, educate and inspire. Off stage, Dennis writes the scripts and composes the music for the shows. Kimberly sews the pages for the giant book, makes the costumes, choreographs and directs. Since 1992, the husband and wife team, have driven across the continental U.S. 365 days a year in an RV calling wherever they park “home”.
Act!vated Actors in action on YouTube
The performers use American Sign Language in addition to voice to tell the stories on stage. Discuss American Sign Language with your students. What is it? Who uses it?
The audience plays a dynamic and essential role in live theatre. Theatre is a two-way street, much like a dialogue between two people. The audience transmits an energy and responses that affect the actors’ performance. Your sighs, laughter, gasps, and clapping each contribute greatly to the overall performance. Discuss appropriate audience behavior with your class so they will know what is expected of them and help them be mindful of others. Talking to your neighbor is not appropriate. Laughter, applause and when requested responding verbally are appropriate. Sitting with your back to the actors, talking on your phone and not paying attention is not polite. Clapping at the end of the play is polite.
Being a member of an audience is a shared experience. Laughing together and seeing a show as a group creates a social bond. Remind your students to be respectful of others by sitting flat on the floor so all can see and enjoy the play.
For their safety, students are expected to stay in the designated audience area. If the performers drop something on the stage, please assume that it is part of the act. Crossing the line to the performance area, even to help pick something up, is disruptive and may cause the actors to not perform as they practiced. Only "guest stars", those who attended rehearsal before the show or those who are personally invited by the performers to come on stage, are allowed on stage during the performance during the performance.
Discuss and define theatre and the following terms: play, actor, costume, set, prop or property, stage, audience, pantomime, physical comedy
Review the following terms and parts of a story: characters, setting, plot, problem, solution, beginning, middle, end
Ask students to listen carefully so they will be able to answer simple, factual, objective questions such as who, what, where, or when. After the show they will be able to discuss the stories with their peers in the classroom and at recess and lunch. When they go home they will be able to tell their family about it. And if time allows, they may be able to ask the actors questions at the end of the play.
Define and discuss what a folktale is. (A folktale is a story passed down from generation to generation.) How does a folktale differ from a made up story, fairytale, legend or myth? What is the same about all of these genres?
Read and/or listen to one or more of the folktales with the students.
Up to 12 students are invited to be "Guest Stars". The teacher selected students will learn roles and perform on stage in the show. Guest Stars must attend a mandatory half-hour pre-show workshop before the first show. Deaf students who use ASL are welcome to participate as Guest Stars. Please check with your assembly coordinator for details.
When choosing students to represent your class please choose outgoing students who are quick learners. Sometimes this is the child who "acts up" in class, but only if they are capable of quickly following instructions. The students you select to participate will practice and apply skills and strategies for effective communication by learning to be expressive, face the audience and adapting vocal volume. They will develop listening skills while learning about cues and following directions.
Publicize the Special Event
To build anticipation and maximize learning potential let the students know that special school wide event is about to take place. Hang fliers and posters around the school announcing the upcoming show. Posters and/or fliers tailored for your event and versions that students can print and color are available by request.
- Throughout the performance students will be applying listening and observation skills to recall and interpret information.
- As a member of the audience they will respond to the speaker with encouraging nonverbal communication (e.g., sitting still and watching the speaker).
- They will develop an understanding of story sequence.
- They will see that literature represents different cultures and traditions.
- They will learn new vocabulary and possibly some foreign words.
- They will observe American Sign Language and other forms of non-verbal communication, such as dance and pantomime.
These activities can be used to prepare students for the show or as post-show follow-up.
- Have the students check out folktales from the school library to read in class. Ask them to look for books with j398.2 (Dewey Decimal System) on the spine. You can explain how to find the spine of the book to younger students by telling them to open their arms wide and pretend to be a book. Then act out a book opening and closing by opening and closing their arms. Next ask them where their spine is and point out it is in the same place on a book.
- Learn some American Sign Language using books, videos or Internet. Adopt a few ASL signs to use every day in the classroom.
- Have the students retell folktales to the class.
- Children act out stories before they learn to read. Ask students to act out a folktale as you read it to the class.
Study Guides addressing Common Core Standards
Choose according to the stories your students saw presented for story specific follow up activities.
Conversational, oral language, listening and observation skills
- Have the students retell the important events in the stories with correct sequence of events.
- Ask questions (who, what, where, why, when, how) about the show and the stories.
- Solicit feedback and ask them to expand upon what they say by making personal connections.
- Discuss the setting, characters, problems, solutions and events in the stories.
- Compare and contrast the two stories. What is the common theme in both stories? What are the similarities and differences between characters, settings and important events?
- Continue the classroom discussion while the students draw pictures of a scene from the show.
- Hold a class discussion about ASL. See if anyone remembers any signs from the show.
- Ask the guest star(s) to demonstrate what they learned in the preshow workshop to the rest of the class.
Develop reading and writing skills:
- Immediately after the show, ask the class to brainstorm a list of things they thought about the show and write the list on the board. Then ask the students to individually write a letter. They may address the letters to one of the characters from the show or to one or both of the actors. They may use ideas from the list the class created or come up with their own. The performers are typically on campus for at least forty-five minutes after each show striking the set and loading out. It should be possible to hand-deliver any letters or artwork. The performers will check with the office on their way out. If you want to leave them there they can pick them up.
- Use a graphic organizer to state the main idea of one of the stories and list important details. Complete one together with the class, before having each student do one for the other story.
- Character descriptions. Write the names of the main characters on the board. With the class list 10 adjectives below each that describe that character. Have each student choose a character and write a paragraph explaining why they liked that character and compare themselves to that character.
These projects take more time and dedication but are well worth the effort.
Readers Theatre Project
Practice reading, speaking and theatre skills by having the class work together on presenting a story. The tale of Orpheus (.pdf) is available for classroom use (10-30 students). It may be produced as simply or as elaborately as you like. Arrange to have the students perform for another class or parents if possible.
Students expand reading, vocabulary, listening and speaking skills, while communicating with a worldwide audience; learn about sound (science) and work with electronic media. See our Podcasting Stories project guide.
Folktale Book Writing Project
As a culminating project, students write their own folktale-inspired story, perhaps combining two folktales to create a new story or making themselves the main character. Each student reads his or her story and solicits feedback from the class, then rewrites the story elaborating on ideas, adding descriptive words, making improvements and corrections. The final versions of the stories can be put together in a book and published using sites such as Lulu.com which will print them at cost and on demand. Art work may be included (black and white is best). Order a copy for your school or community library and invite parents to order copies for their children as well (you may choose to use this project as a fundraiser or just order the books at cost). Don't forget to have the contributors sign the library copy at a book-signing party once it arrives. And please let us know about it - we'd love to see what your students came up with!