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The Performing Arts and the Social Sciences

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Music & Storytelling: When all of the slaves were freed in The Invisible Princess, there was "music and dancing and storytelling. " Visual Art: Faith Ringgold says that "art is about more than just technique and style. It's about ideas" ( Talking to Faith Ringgold, p. 23). She gets her ideas from events that are happening around her. (Refer to the painting on pp. 23-24. ) Creative Drama: Martin Luther King, Jr. is famous for his "I Have a Dream" speech. The class can spin ideas from the book and research other African Americans who made a big impact on the freedom of their race.

From here, the class can stage a production play. Language Arts: The Invisible Princess is an original fairy tale. The conflict in most fairy tales is good vs. evil. Fairy tales originated from dreams. Social Studies: The location of the terminals on the Underground Railroad are all across the United States. Tar Beach is set in Harlem during the Great Depression. Science -- Cotton was grown on most of the large plantations in the South. The students can learn about the production of cotton and the other industries related to it. 2. Harry Sue by Sue Stauffacher, Illustrated by Sue Stauffacher. Yearling (April 10, 2007)

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Harry Sue is the moving, heartfelt, and sometimes funny story of a girl desperate for her mother’s love, and how compassion, resilience, and friendship can help a person survive just about any hardship that life can dish out. The Performing Arts and the Social Sciences Language Arts: Early on in the book, Harry Sue says, “Everybody has a back story, Fish. Garnett, Mary Bell, Homer, me. Remember that when you’re eyeballing a new con. The real story starts somewhere in the past. ” (p. 23) This can be a good writing exercise for students; they will think about their “back stories” and create a narrative.

Drama: There are parts of the story that are especially suited to a live performance, such as the standoff between Harry Sue and Granny in the basement, or one of the meals that Baba and Harry Sue share together in the art room. Students can learn their lines and to rehearse their scenes for a performance. Social Studies: Baba shares with Harry Sue his experiences and terrible personal loss as one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan. ” The students can learn about the Sudanese civil war that resulted in thousands of refugees, and the story of how many of these boys were brought to the United States to start a new life.

As a child of an incarcerated parent, Harry Sue is at greater risk of dropping out of school, abusing drugs and alcohol, experiencing mental illness, and committing crimes than children whose parents are not imprisoned. Students can research children of prisoners and and report on their findings. As an extension, the students can brainstorm what they can do as a class to help children of prisoners in their own community. Science: With a T-5 spinal cord injury, Homer Price is a quadriplegic. Unable to use his four limbs, he can only use the parts of his body above the neck: his head, mouth, and tongue.

J-Cat introduces Homer to a device that allows him to draw using a light pen held in the mouth. With technology, Homer is again able to work out his inventions on paper. Students can research advances in spinal cord injury technology, and how severely disabled people like Homer are using these technologies to better their lives. Harry Sue finds solace in Mrs. Mead’s garden, and at the end of the story, she gardens with Moonie Pie and the other children at Baba and J-Cat’s day care center as a way of healing her heart and her brain. Students can research gardening or horticultural therapy and how it is used.

In the spring, plant a Harry Sue flower garden with native flowers and plants that are as tough and resilient as Harry Sue. Art: J-Cat compares Homer’s situation to that of the great artist Henri Matisse toward the end of his life. When Matisse was no longer able to hold a paint brush, his assistants fastened a pencil to his hand so he could continue to draw. He also used large scissors to create the body of work known as cutouts. Students can explore the late work of Henri Matisse via the public library and the Internet. Students can then create their own cut paper collage inspired by the work of Matisse.

BOOKS FOR GRADES 4-8 1. The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Yearling (December 1, 1985) In The Egypt Game, April Hall, an insecure and lonely 11-year-old, comes to live with her grandmother and surprises herself when she forms an immediate friendship with her neighbor Melanie Ross. April and Melanie, who share an unusual interest in ancient Egypt, use their intellect and vivid imaginations to develop an elaborate game of "Egypt. " Gradually, the game becomes more and more real, and frightening things begin to happen in the neighborhood. The children are faced with a soul-searching question: Has the game gone too far?

The Performing Arts and the Social Sciences Language Arts: Each participant in The Egypt Game chooses an Egyptian name and its hieroglyphic symbol. Students can research library about the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. They can select an Egyptian name for themselves and create its hieroglyphic symbol. They can also compose a paragraph telling why they selected their particular names. Mysteries are solved in The Egypt Game and The Gypsy Game. At the end of The Egypt Game, April and Marshall's picture is in the newspaper along with a story about how Marshall helped the Professor save April.

Students can write the article that appears in the newspaper. They can include quotations from each of the children of "Egypt," various people from the neighborhood, and the Professor. Theater Arts: The characters in the book commune in a vacant lot where they play a game where they play specific roles as they try to reenact ancient Egyptian rituals. Students can learn about drama and how to study and act out a character. A play production of the book can also be staged. Social Studies: April and her friends conduct research about Egyptians and Gypsies before engaging in their games.

Students can be asked to name other ancient cultures that they have studied, such as the Incas and Aztecs, and the ancient Babylonians, Chinese, and Greeks. Students should be equipped to speculate on which of the cultures would most likely interest April and Melanie and why. The Egypt Game, the children decide to perform an Egyptian "Ceremony for the Dead. " They think they will mummify the bird. Students can research the process of mummification, and how scientists determine the age of ancient mummies. 2. Adam of the Road (Puffin Modern Classics) by Elizabeth Janet Gray.

Puffin (October 5, 2006) Adam of the Road is the story of eleven-year-old Adam who wishes to be a minstrel like his father, Roger. The story takes place in thirteenth-century England. Adam with his minstrel father, Roger, and his faithful cocker piel, Nick, are on their way to the Fair of St. Giles. Even good minstrels like Roger are not kept by their masters during the summer months and are forced to travel the countryside in search of work. While walking along the great roads of southern England, Adam's dog, Nick, is stolen. As he tries to catch the thief, he becomes separated from Roger.

So begins a time of adventure for Adam. During nearly a year, while Adam continues to look for his dog and his father, he meets many strangers -- jugglers, minstrels, plowmen, and nobles -- who try to convince him that their life is best. Instead, Adam chooses to be a minstrel and is completely happy when he is reunited with his beloved father and his dog. The Performing Arts and the Social Sciences Language Arts: The English used in the book is mostly the terms used in the time of its printing, and outdated words are to be encountered.

The book is for seventh grade Language Arts and fits well within an interdisciplinary unit on the Middle Ages. There are also 29 other books cited in the book, as well as excerpts from poetry. Students can research such literary pieces and that could be an aid to them in learning about the literature of Medieval Europe. Performing Arts: Music is a vital aspect of this book, as the main character is a singer and also a harp player. Moreover, the minstrels in the book also are singers. There is a great deal of singing here, and many characters are described as singing famous songs of that time.

Social Studies: When the students are studying Medieval Europe in social studies, they can be reading Adam of the Road and researching life in the Middle Ages in Language Arts class. In the book, the presence of minstrels and knights in specific are interesting points to tackle. History: The book is set in Medieval Times and students can also research about the significance of that era and how we can relate the events in that time to our time today. There can be sessions where students can compare and contrast the past and the present.


Science as we can deduce, is not yet as advanced in the book as it is today. People back then travel by horse-drawn vehicles such as carriages and horse carts. Students can research about how transportation evolved and the Medieval Times may be their starting point. REFERENCES Pat Scales, Director of Library Services of the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, SC. http://www. randomhouse. com/catalog/display. pperl? isbn=9780517885437&view=tg Colleen Carroll, Education Consultant, Curriculum Writer and Author.

http://www. randomhouse. com/kids/catalog/display. pperl? isbn=9780375832741&view=tg http://www. randomhouse. com/teachers/catalog/display. pperl? isbn=9780440422259&view=tg Deborah Gaulin 1997. http://www. sdcoe. k12. ca. us/score/adam/adamtg. html Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold, Illustrated by Faith Ringgold. Dragonfly Books (1995) Harry Sue by Sue Stauffacher. Illustrated by Sue Stauffacher. Yearling (2007) The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Yearling (1985) Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray. Puffin (2006)

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