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The Great Chocolate Money Mystery

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By Eileen Jones — Playwright and author

A short playscript set a Christmas time and unravelling the mystery of some missing chocolate coins. Perfect for an end of term performance or to share in guided reading.

These teachers’ notes accompany the PRINT ONLY guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 5 to 7 November 2008.

great-chocolate-money-image.jpg

Before reading

  • Discuss what a playscript is and how it differs from prose narrative. Create a checklist for the organisational features you would expect to find. Discuss how settings change with each scene and how characters’ names are written before each piece of dialogue.
  • Discuss the title of the play. What do they expect to happen?
  • Look at the list of characters and allocate parts. Identify the settings of the five different scenes and create a story map to represent where the action is taking place.
  • Discuss the stage directions given in brackets and encourage children to adapt their delivery accordingly. Discuss the effect punctuation has on the way lines are delivered. Encourage the use of expression.

Previous learning

Children should have experience of: reading with appropriate intonation and using voices for characters; presenting stories to the class; exploring mood and atmosphere in live performances; commenting constructively.

Reading and responding

  • Pause after each scene to check the children’s understanding of the action. Make predictions about what might happen next at the end of Scene 2. At the end of Scene 3, ask the children where they think the chocolate coins may have gone. Repeat again at the end of Scene 4 – are there any new clues? Ask the children to suggest reasons why Silvino may have taken the coins. What evidence is there to support these views?
  • At the end of Scene 6 discuss the play’s ending. Is it a good ending? Suggest alternative endings.
  • Rehearse reading the play several times (perhaps over several sessions) before beginning to add gesture and action to the script.

Group and independent activities

  • Ask the children to go through the play and make a list of props needed for each scene. Make props and create backdrops/scenery ready for a performance.
  • Produce some ‘freeze frames’ from the play. Take photographs of the tableaux created. Discuss what characters are feeling/thinking at this specific times.
  • Write diary entries for Sonia, Jake, Sam or Silvino after each of the scenes in the play.
  • Write character profiles/descriptions for each of the main characters. Try to ‘flesh out’ the characters a bit more. How would this help a performer to take on a role?
  • Put the children into groups of 8 and ask each group to perform the play (or a scene from the play if you are short on time). Evaluate the performances. Are the children in character? Do they use appropriate intonation and expression? Do they use appropriate gesture and actions alongside the dialogue? Is the acting convincing? Create a checklist for a good play performance.
  • Perform the play for a live audience, using backdrops and props. This would be a valuable experience for children to see how plays move from written to oral to physical form.
  • Turn the play into narrative prose. Demonstrate how less dialogue would be needed, while action would need to be conveyed through carefully constructed 3rd person, past tense sentences. Give them a scene to translate into prose. Encourage use of adjectives and adverbs to further convey meaning.
  • Rewrite or adapt a scene from the play or write an alternative ending.
  • Plan a new play using the activity sheet. Decide on a theme/setting to give some structure to the task. This could link to another area of the curriculum or retain a Christmas theme.

*This resource supports work in the Year 3 Literacy Framework Narrative Planning Unit 5 – Dialogue and plays and Year 4, Unit 5 – Plays. *

Key learning outcomes:

  • To recognise the layout and organisation of a playscript;
  • To take on roles and read parts in character;
  • To write a short playscript.

Plenary

Revisit the differences between plays and narrative prose. Which do they prefer? Why? Which other plays do they know? Can they suggest narrative stories that could be turned into plays?

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