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The Magic of Reading The Crucible Out Loud

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(This is from my journal in April, but I thought I’d share it on my blog.)

Something amazing just happened.

I planned to read Act 3 of The Crucible out loud with my high school writing class, a small group of homeschool teens (amazing people, by the way!). They had read Acts 1 and 2 at home, but I really wanted to give them a chance to read it together.

I’ve always heard that because plays are created to be read out loud, they must be read out loud to communicate what they are meant to communicate. Back when I was in high school, we used to read plays out loud in class, and I loved it.

So my homeschool writing class sad down Tuesday, ready for class, and I assigned parts for The Crucible.

There’s always the student who wants to be the bad guy, and the one who wants to be the good guy.

“I’m Danforth!”

“I’m Proctor!”

“I’m Abigail!”

 

We chose parts. And then something magical happened.

We read Act 3 of the play. These high school students made up their character’s voice, gestures, and personality. They laughed at themselves and at each other. They drew up from their emotions their best expressions and related to their characters with carefree hearts, glad it wasn’t real life.

It wasn’t just like acting. It was different.

It was storytelling.

It was communing.

It was friendship.

We finished Act 3–and these students!!! They begged me to keep going and finish the whole play with reading Act 4 out loud.

My agenda was shaking a finger at that idea. But my heart was like, “Let’s do it! Let’s go with this! This is when we learn, right? When we are having fun?”

It wasn’t that they wanted to get out of the SAT practice essay I had planned — OK, maybe that was part of it. But we captured something so special and joyful and rare in that half hour and we all wanted more. We needed more. We all felt it.

The Crucible isn’t exactly the most upbeat story. So why were we so energized?

Our hearts were bursting with that thing we all get from literature. What is it exactly?

Imagination? That word doesn’t seem sufficient, but it’s a start. What do you call imagination used within a community? Mixed with acting and storytelling? Mixed with laughter and brilliant literature?

We got to use our imaginations in a new way, and we were hungry for it, and we didn’t even know it until we were done and wanted seconds.

They begged me to read the last act together in class.

And of course I said yes.

And Rebecca Nurse would not admit she was a witch and she hung, and John Proctor would not admit to witchcraft so he hung, and Elizabeth Proctor was in prison, pregnant, her children at home without mother or father.

And when they left class that day, they said, “That was so much fun!” and “Thank you!”

And I knew exactly how they felt, because I felt it too.

I cried as I wrote this out. Clearly, in our culture, we are hungry for something more.

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Cat Craft for Kids: Free Cat Template

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When I saw this cute paper cat in a fall Paper Source catalog, I thought I’d try it out with my kids. They had so much fun! I decided to quickly draw up a template for the cat I made, and I used it for a craft at my daughter’s birthday party.

Below is the free cat template with examples so you can make this craft with your kids, Girl Scout troop, homeschool group, or friends.

In black, it would look really cute for a Halloween decoration! Everyone’s cat is different, which makes it so much fun.

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My 9-year-old made this sassy cat.

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My 3-year-old son made this tall-eared, green king cat.

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This was the cat I made. If you use the free template provided, it will look like this cat. Simply print the cat template on your choice of paper and cut out the pieces just inside the black lines (to avoid a black border); glue pieces in place.

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Click the link to access the template. Let me know how it turns out!

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Autumn Art Project for Kids

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My mom is an elementary school art teacher. She gave me this autumn art project idea years ago, when I was leading an after school program in Vancouver, BC. for grades 4-6. (For those of you who have read my story, you might remember the time when I worked with kids in the inner city of Vancouver. If you’d like to read it, check out my ebook Goodnight to My Thoughts of You here.)

Today, I tried out this art project with my own kids, ages 4, 7, and 9, while my 2-year-old was napping.

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Materials:

black construction paper
white pencil or white crayon
white construction paper
scraps or sheets of construction paper in fall colors: red, orange, yellow, brown
scissors
glue sticks

Directions:

Step 1: Using white pencil or crayon, draw a tree with branches on black construction paper. My kids needed extra paper because they weren’t happy with their first try and wanted to try again. It helped when I told them that every tree is different, so it doesn’t have to look a certain way. 

Step 2: Cut out tree and branches. Younger children may need to cut branches and trunks of the tree separately, while older children can cut out more complicated tree branches.

Step 3: Cut out hills or grass from the excess black construction paper.

Step 4: Glue hill or grass to the bottom of the white construction paper. It is a good idea to keep the white paper vertical rather than horizontal, so the tree has more room.

Step 5: Glue tree and branches to the white construction paper. Try placing it a little to the right or left to see where you like it best.

Step 6: Using the fall-colored construction paper scraps, rip out small pieces of paper that are sort of in the shape of leaves. Small pieces look nice, so rip larger pieces in half.

Step 7: Glue leaves to the tree branches. Some leaves might be falling from the tree. Some might be at the foot of the tree, or in piles around the tree.

Step 8: Using black construction paper, cut out more fall/autumn shapes, like a moon, owl, bat, pumpkin, cat, or anything you like, and glue it to your scene.

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 My 4-year-old did this project in 15 minutes.

 

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My 7-year-old took 25 minutes.

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My 9-year-old spent over an hour and said this project “took a lot of TLC.”

 Sometimes, after a long day of homeschool lessons, you have to take a break and do an art project. Maybe you will find this free autumn art project tutorial helpful if you are an elementary school teacher, a homeschool teacher, or if you just like to do crafts with your kids. Enjoy!

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This post is part of the 31 Days of Writing Challenge. I have taken the challenge to post every day in the month of October. Most will be on the topic of pregnancy, since I am in my last 31 days before my 5th baby is due (well, technically she is due Nov. 9, but that doesn’t mean much to me, since my 2nd baby was 24 days late.

Thank you so much for joining me! As always, feel free to leave a comment on any of my posts. I would love to hear your side of the conversation.

xo,

Chelsea

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