Three Little Pigs was chosen because children are familiar with the classic story. It is engaging for both girls and boys and allows a strong context for a range of arts activities in drama, puppetry, musical movement as well as a small world play of a series of arts activities. Activities are planned for five-year-old children as children by age 5 would have attained the basic developmental milestones of language development (Conti-Ramsden & Durkin, 2011).
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The story of Three Little Pigs has patterns of structure. The first little pig met a man carrying straw and built his house with straw. The second little pig met a man carrying sticks and built his house with sticks. The third little pig met a man with bricks and built his house with bricks. A wolf came and said the line “Little pig, little pig, let me in” three times. The wolf huffed and puffed three times.
The story carries repetitive catchy phrases,
‘Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!’
‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!’
So the wolf huffed and puffed and blew the house down!’
The moral of the story teaches children not to open door to strangers and let strangers in.
The Three Little Pigs is told through dramatization and role-play using finger puppets, props and tone of voice.
This paper highlights the aims and values of the activities and explains how learning is being structured and the skills that can be developed in drama.
Creativity and Imagination in Arts Education
We live in a culture where children are raised with passive life experiences. Their toys are highly functional and commercially constructed. But children are by nature imaginative and curious. Their imagination and creation are not nurtured and developed. Children’s play is losing significance to paper and pencil type of education that adults have come to view as important (Hendy & Toon, 2001).
Society needs people who are creative and imaginative to enable problem solving and make connections. Society then has to start with its youngest members to encourage their creativity and imagination. Children should be motivated and given opportunities to express their creativity. Society needs to nurture children to think creatively, play with ideas and materials, deal with changes and the unexpected, respond to such changes, take risks, learn empathy and be sociable. Creativity and imagination make us human (Duffy, 1998).
Adult attitude is important in promoting creativity and imagination. Such attitudes create the right emotional environment. Equally important are physical settings and time set aside to allow opportunities for creativity and imagination (Duffy, 1998).
Arts and the curriculum
The arts have long been associated with a private experience of feeling good, living in a dream world, and an escape from reality. Swanwick (1988) argues that we become more conscious through the arts. Teaching the arts well promotes development in other learning areas. In drama there is physical education and language development. Music has its own vocabulary as in tempo, pulse and dynamics. Drawing is about line, texture and shape. If the arts can become part of the curriculum children have learning opportunities for personal and social-emotional development (Arts in Schools Project, 1990).
According to Swanwick (1988) the arts are naturally playful and playfulness is an important part of being human. Children play. Play is what children do. In play, there are elements which promote learning through the arts. Children gain mastery of skills, enhanced their imitation and are engaged in imaginative play.
When young children engage in dramatic play, they take on a different identity and manipulate the character. They develop their ability to understand and make sense of the world around them by making connections (Hendy & Toon, 2001).
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Games are adapted to the Three Little Pigs. Children listen to the name called for straw, stick, brick and house. They are told rules of the games. Children play and learn to play by the rules.
When children are invited to make images from the story with their body and facial expression they step into the role of the character. They imitate the teacher in role and friends or stretch their creativity and imagination with their own body movement and facial expression. The other children in the circle make sound effects with their vocals. The simple act of dramatization allows children to master the skills of speaking to sound like another self. They learn to take turns and respect the other’s voice and body movement. Together and being together children make dramatic meaning (Swanwick, 1998).
The teacher uses another approach of dramatization by getting children to make music and use instruments for making sound effects. Music is incorporated in the drama play. With the teacher’s guidance children experiment with the musical instruments until they get the sound that makes one think of the wolf blowing down the houses. For a different outcome, the teacher in role selects the instruments and guides children to listen to the tempo and act out the mood of the scene of the wolf puffing, huffing and blowing down the houses. Blowing down the house of straw is easy for the wolf so the mood is soft. The easy and soft mood changes with the house of straw and becomes heavy, angry and even dangerous when the wolf tries to blow down the house of brick. This activity is a learning point for children to take instructions, keep a consistent rhythm and work with others. It encourages children to enjoy making music and listening to music. Children are exposed to music and can develop musical ability through their active engagement. Children delight in sound and rhythm (Sanwick, 1988).
Drama should not be boring (Duffy, 1998). To add a sense of excitement the teacher tells an imaginative story that Mother Pig receives a letter from one of the little pigs. She has lost her reading glasses. Children are invited to read out the letter for her through role-play as the little pig. They decide for themselves and create their own story.
Children’s imagination is further stretched when they discuss the character of the wolf. They compare the wolf to other wolves in Red Riding Hood and The Boy Who Cried Wolf. This activity promotes language and cognitive thinking as children learn to identify the animated characteristics of the wolf and compare one to the other and another.
The original version of the story is told through a drama play. The teacher in role becomes the wolf who is brought to trial for blowing down the houses and eating the little pigs. Children field questions and demand explanations from the wolf to account for his crimes. Teacher and children work together to make a new story. This activity brings about a sense of tension and excitement.
The teacher creates space for children to make their own small world play area. A number of skills can be developed in this play area. Children learn to make a finger puppet. They choose and pick materials to make their own puppets. They compare, contrast and experiment with colour, texture, lines and shapes. They acquire the skill by trial and error or copy the teacher’s puppets. Such mastery of judgement gives children a sense of achievement.
When children play with finger puppet, the puppet becomes alive. They talk to the puppet and say what they feel. In imaginative play they experiment with the different cries the wolf make to blow down the three different houses. They become the little pigs and experiment with the different emotions the pig experience when the wolf calls.
Children learn to be sociable as they listen to each other and take turns. They learn about cooperation and accepting ideas and wishes of another. Emotions are released in a healthy way as children use finger puppets to express their feelings and concerns. Language development is enhanced as they experiment with different voices and characters.
We live in a time where learning is measured and tested in paper and pencil with emphasis in basic literacy and numeracy skills. We should bear in mind the importance of creativity and imagination in its own right and the positive impact of creativity and imagination on other learning areas. A curriculum that is enriched with creativity and imagination opens up avenues for children to develop skills, knowledge, attitudes and aptitudes in the present and for the future (Duffy, 1998).
Children become the adults we want them to be – resourceful, innovative and confident. As cited by Duffy (1998) quoting Oscar Wilde, we are raising a generation who “know the price of everything and the value of nothing” (p.14).
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