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Living Through Their Eyes (elementary)

Last changed: 05/14/2020 5:16pm
3 , 4 , 5
Theater Social Studies English
Grade Level Program Integration
5 45 min

Five, 45-60 minute sessions with a final Sharing day during Session 5
Sessions typically held once or twice a week to best integrate with selected Social Studies unit
Schedule determined during the pre-planning meeting and based on the needs of the school
In-School Short Term Residency
All Year In-School, Virtual
$10 0
yes In-Person

Handouts, prompts and reference materials based on selected Social Studies Unit and Character Development/Scene Study activities

Chart paper or white board
Non-lined paper or journal for each student
Agreed upon materials or copies
Props for informal Sharing, if desired
Copy of the selected Social Studies unit or chapter and related text for the planning meeting

Open space in classroom or multi-purpose space large enough for entire class to participate on their feet simultaneously or spread out to work in small groups
A large space or auditorium reserved for Session 4 and Session 5, if sharing with the whole grade level


I can use facts and imagination to describe the home, clothing, food, language, job and daily life of a person from another time, place or culture.

I can recognize, discuss and demonstrate at least 2 similarities and 2 differences between life in another historical period or culture and our life today.

I can work with peers to create and perform an original scene or theatre piece representing characters from another time, place or culture.



When students become time travelers, the past comes alive!

In Living Through Their Eyes, each student experiences the world from the perspective of another time, place and culture. Acting exercises emphasizing character and environment help bring fresh insights, as students accurately grasp a norm outside of their own and develop a vibrant connection to the past.

Research and imagination provide tools for developing a deeper understanding of the actions and motivations of people throughout history. Honoring personal exploration assures equal participation throughout the creative process, as each student critically compares and contrasts elements of Then and Now.

Based on guided reading of text and images, students create a realistic context from which to visualize a character’s personal life, relationships, occupation and events within their community. Children communicate insights through discussion, writing (letters/journal entries/scripts/poetry) and drawing (floorplans of homes or workplaces). Cooperating with partners, students improvise situations and speak in the voice of a specific character.

The program provides powerful support to any Social Studies unit or topic and is enhanced by incorporating a related text from the Language Arts/Reading Curriculum. For example, some students delve into the lives, trades and interdependence of our counterparts in Colonial America. Others explore Mexican/American culture and immigration by creating scenes from the text Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan.

At the conclusion of the program, each class brainstorms, problem-solves and collaborates to create a unique Sharing for the entire grade or within each classroom. Presenting to others, reflecting on their own work and giving/receiving feedback solidifies the learning.

Handouts, prompts and activities used in the program can be applied in centers focusing on a range of topics throughout the year.

*See Additional Notes for Topics with Reading Connections and Extended Projects



Suggested Topics with Related Texts:

Colonial America (village life, trades and language of the period)
If You Lived In Colonial Times by Ann McGovern
The Scoop on Clothes, Homes, and Daily Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
If You Sailed On The Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern
On The Mayflower by Kate Waters
Early American Crafts and Occupations by Peter F. Copeland

Immigration (country of origin, hardships of travel and arrival in America)
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Journey to Ellis Island by Carol Bierman,
I Was Dreaming to Come to America (Ellis Island Oral History Project) selected and illustrated by Veronica Lawler

Revolutionary War (events leading up to the war and effects on different segments of the population)
Patience Wright, America's First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy by Pegi Deitz Shea
Freedom's Fire by Elizabeth Sullivan Falk
“Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Westward Expansion (moving west, predicting hardships and brainstorming solutions)

Extended Projects:

Three classes of 5th grades expanded their final Share of scenes from Esperanza Rising to create a movie by adding simple props, costumes and set pieces and choosing backgrounds for filming with Greenscreen. (Teachers noted, "even the most reserved children stepped up to write scenes and perform on camera." Students were proud of their "individual contributions to developing characters and the teamwork involved in producing their own movie."

Entire grade applied information and acting skills learned in the residency to create one colonial village to be visited by other grades. They chose costumes/props, made signs/backgrounds, learned language of the time and incorporated period music/dance to demonstrate their shops/trades and village life.

*All ACTive Learning Through Drama programs have been developed and implemented by a professional Theatre Educator in collaboration with Classroom Teachers and Arts Specialists.

1-3 are welcome to assist in the classroom, if the teacher desires.
Parents, guardians and administrators could watch the informal Share in Session 5.

Grade 3

Grade 3: History: Change, Continuity, and Context: 3.2 Compare life in specific historical time periods to life today.
Grade 3: Reading Standards for Informational Text: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas #7: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
Grade 3: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 1.1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. c. Collaborate to determine how characters might move and speak to support the story and given circumstances in drama/theatre work.
Grade 3: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 2.1: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. a. Participate in methods of investigation to devise original ideas for a drama/theatre work.

Grade 4

Grade 4: Geography: Human-Environment Interaction: Place, Regions, and Culture: 4.7: Explain how human settlements and movements relate to the locations and use of various natural resources.
Grade 4: Reading Standards for Informational Text: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas #7: Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
Grade 4: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 1.1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. c. Imagine how a character might move to support the story and given circumstances in a drama/theatre work.
Grade 4: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 2.1: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. a. Collaborate to devise original ideas for a drama/theatre work by asking questions about characters and plots.

Grade 5

Grade 5: History: Perspectives: 5.4: Explain why individuals and groups during the same historical period differed in their perspectives.
Grade 5: Reading Standards for Informational Text: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas #9: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
Grade 5: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 1.1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. c. Imagine how a character’s inner thoughts impact the story and given circumstances in a drama/ theatre work
Grade 5: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 2.1: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. a. Devise original ideas for a drama/theatre work that reflect collective inquiry about characters and their given circumstances.
Get to Know Our Arts Provider:

ACTive Learning Through Drama with Barbara Washer