Lower School drama allows children to make discoveries about themselves and others through games, focused exercises, and fun activities. Primary grades classes focus on facial expressions to show emotions, using body parts to represent objects or action, control of voice, methods for performing in the role of a human or non-human character, and ways of using props and sets. In third through fifth grade, students explore characters in more depth. They practice methods for making actions seem real, and they learn more about the process of making a play come to life on stage.
Kindergarten drama lessons focus on the idea that drama is about the use of the imagination and pretending. Through games, participatory stories, and pantomime, children are encouraged to use their observational and listening skills and sensory recall to enact small moments and scenes. Creativity, collaboration, and cooperation are incorporated into activities, as children discover the ways that movement and gesture can convey an idea or a concept.
In first grade drama classes, children continue to expand on imagination and expression. Students explore the range of facial movements that characterize emotions, and they practice using their voices and bodies to convey feelings and reactions. They work together to create imaginary environments, and they act out simple storylines. Students experiment with walking style, voice and other behaviors to bring characters to life onstage.
Second grade drama classes build on the skills of observation and imagination that were introduced in previous years. Children use all of their senses to immerse themselves in dramatic situations. Some lessons challenge students to identify sounds and then create imaginary settings in which those sounds would be heard. Other activities involve envisioning larger scenes, with children working together to create scenarios.
In third grade drama, students participate in increasingly elaborate theatrical activities. By repeating scenes and adding more and more elements (dialog, music, etc), they build their understanding of the complexity of stage productions. Students work together to creating a sequence of actions that form a plot. They respond to challenges that require quick thinking to adapt to the needs of a moment, and combine logic with creativity to develop believable characters and situations.
Drama classes reinforce fourth graders' growing skills in stamina, literacy, and comprehension. Lessons emphasize focus, concentration, and memorization as the students participate in longer scenes. They engage in storytelling and plot construction, define and give examples of ethical concerns, and analyze selections for important components of a plot (e.g. inciting moment, rising action, climax, falling action, denouement, conclusion). Some projects involve creating a conflict and a resolution for that conflict. Students also begin learning about offering critique: how to look for positive components of planning and performance, and how to suggest improvements for unclear or ineffective areas of performance.
Group work is a core aspect of fifth grade drama. Theater lessons challenge students to collaborate in a variety of ways: to solve a problem requiring physical dexterity and logic, to create characters through the use of body and voice, and to work as an ensemble. Self-monitoring skills such as concentrating and focusing, thinking quickly, using the creative imagination, and adapting to the needs of a situation are encouraged. Fifth graders work together to write and perform a mystery using costumes, props and creating a simple set.
Computer coding is an interactive, hands-on pursuit at Foote. For a third grade STEM project, students design robots using LEGOs and program their movements using click-and-drag Scratch coding.