Grade: Five
Integrated Content Areas:
English Language Arts and Theatre Arts
Unit Title: A Living Museum
Generative Topic/Big Ideas:
Essential Question: How do people and communities adapt or change over time?
Enduring Ideas:
1. Museums show how people and communities have changed or adapted over time.
2. A “living” museum exhibit uses tableau, pantomime, or monologue to explain artifacts, images, and
informational texts about people or communities.
Integrated Learning Outcome:
Students will collaborate in small groups to interpret a variety of artifacts, images, and informational texts to
create a theatrical “living” museum that represents the lives of people who have changed or influenced their
Visual and Performing Arts
Theatre Arts
Prior knowledge:
1) Pantomime, tableau, space bubble, narrative pantomime, imaging
2) Collaborate in small groups
3) Prior vocabulary: audience, character, setting, director, designer, actor, and playwright.
Content Standards:
1.0 Artistic Perception
1.1 Use the vocabulary of theatre, such as sense memory, script, cue, monologue, dialogue, protagonist, and
antagonist, to describe theatrical experiences.
2.0 Creative Expression
2.1 Participate in improvisational activities to explore complex ideas and universal themes in literature and
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.1 Select or create appropriate props, sets, and costumes for a cultural celebration or pageant.
4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Develop and apply appropriate criteria for critiquing the work of actors, directors, writers, and technical
artists in theatre, film, and video.
5.0 Connections, Relationships, and Applications
5.1 Use theatrical skills to dramatize events and concepts from other curriculum areas, such as reenacting the
signing of the Declaration of Independence in history social science.
Collaborate to create informal theatrical performances using the roles of director, actor, designer and playwright.
Represent character and emotion through tableau, pantomime, dialogue, and monologue.
Speak with appropriate vocal projection, voice quality, and articulation.
Other Content Area – English Language Arts
Prior knowledge:
1) Background/context for Colonial America and the Revolutionary War period
2) Context clues, main idea, details
3) Writing personal narratives from another character’s point of view
Common Core State Standards:
Reading Informational Texts
2. Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the
4. Determine the meaning of general academic and domain specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade
five topic or subject area.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details,
and clear event sequences.
Speaking and Listening
1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse
partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
1) Determine the meanings of words through context clues
2) Summarize details from images and written texts to express the main ideas
3) Create characters and write dialogue based on clues in the text.
4) Write personal narratives in the form of dramatic monologues.
1. “James Forten,” from Now Is Your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Myers
(Houghton Mifflin- Grade Five Theme Three)
2. James Forten Vocabulary words with pictures/definitions
3. Revolutionary War Diary Entries, 1775-1781
4. Images of the life and times during the period of the American Revolution
5. Museum of American Revolution web site
6. Articles and web sites about Wax Museums or Living Museums at other elementary schools
Project Description
•A brand new museum wants to develop a "living museum" that will bring to life the personal stories of people or
events that have influenced the community around them. It hopes that “Visitors will stand in the presence of the
people who changed history.”
•Students will collaborate in groups to interpret artifacts, images and informational texts about a person or
event that has brought change to a community. They will then use tableau, pantomime, and monologue to create
“living” museum exhibits that demonstrate their understanding.
Students will submit their exhibits along with Letters of Justification to a “Museum Committee” (could be the
teacher-in-role, teachers from other classrooms, members of the community) explaining why their exhibit would be a
valuable and why the event shows how communities adapt or change over time.
Each group will perform their exhibit, then read their letter of justification and answer any questions from the
“committee” about their presentation.
Summative Assessment will be based on a rubric that evaluates the performance of the exhibit and how well
the justification letter explains why this exhibit should be included in the museum.
Creative Process
Imagine / Examine / Perceive
(What pieces of the project require students to examine the world, perceive artwork or imagine something new?)
1. Observation of Picture of War Sloop from Revolutionary War to provide context
2. Imaging Exercise – “The Life of a Privateer”
3. Clay Sculpture – small groups interpret pictures of life from the American Revolutionary period
4. Tableau- Students represent vocabulary: influential, abolitionists, assisted, privateer, encouraged, apprentice,
produce, descent, assisted, dread, tacking, captives, bondage, enslavement
5. Count and Freeze – Leader calls out a vocabulary word from the story and then count 1-2-3-4-5-Freeze!
Players start in neutral then grow bigger until the biggest is at the count of 5, then freeze in that pose.
6. Examine diary entries, primary sources, web resources, and additional images for information about the
lives of the people in the 1700’s.
Explore / Experiment / Develop Craft
(Which activities ask students to explore the content, experiment with ideas and get build new skills?)
1) Dramatize Paragraph 1 as a demonstration with the whole class
a) Narrative Pantomime: Students pantomime all of the jobs listed in paragraph 1 of “James Forten” in Space
Bubbles as someone reads aloud. Stop, discuss, revise, and replay as necessary.
b) Create “tableau” of workers named in the first paragraph with volunteers in front of the class
c) Model the (TPT) pattern - Tableau/Pantomime/ Tableau using paragraph 1.
d) CPR (Create-Perform-Revise process)
e) Repeat as needed.
f) Assess the TPT scene using tableau checklist.
2) Develop Character Monologue or Dialogue:
a) Use Character Worksheet to express what the character is Feeling, Thinking, Doing.
b) Each student creates a line to say to at least one other character in the scene along with one specific action.
c) OR Each student writes a short monologue based on the character worksheet. The emphasis should be on
expressing character traits, motivation and emotions.
d) The student may experiment through improvising the action or by writing a script. Students may also write
diary or journal entries as their character.
(What pieces of the project are devoted to students creating their artwork?)
1) Students are assigned to small groups. Each group is assigned a page, an illustration or a single paragraph from
the story. Students also determine their theatrical roles: director, actor, or designer.
2) Each group will:
i) Identify the main idea of the paragraph and determine important supporting details.
ii) Use that information to plan their living exhibit as a Tableau-Pantomime-Tableau scene
iii) Plan and perform the scenes as narrative pantomime (someone reads the text, the others act out the
scene through tableau-pantomime-tableau.)
iv) Decide who the characters in the scene are, and write character backgrounds, short monologues, or
v) Costumes or props may be researched and added to the exhibit as well.
3) Once the group has finished the rehearsal and revision process for their scene, they will collaborate to write
their Letter of Justification.
Reflect / Assess / Revise
(Which activities ask students to reflect on their work, assess their progress and revise their project?
After each step, the groups share informal performances and use the tableau checklist as a tool to assess the work
and make revisions. Formative feedback is given through whole group discussion.
(How will students share their work with others?)
Students will share their work as a living museum for students from another class, or guests from the community.
The students will have a cue (such as a bell ringing) to activate each exhibit so it comes to life. Share their exhibit,
The museum could even become a school event so parents can come to see the living museum in action.
Formative Assessment of the Visual and Performing Arts Content
1) Tableau Checklist
2) Visual Thinking Strategies: What do you see? What makes you say that? What else do you see?
3) Rubric for vocal expression
Formative Assessment of Other Content Areas
1) Check for main ideas and details
2) Check for accuracy in writing based on research and readings
3) Rubric for writing personal narrative and effective participation in collaborative discussion
Authentic Performance-Based Summative Assessment
Students will submit their exhibits and Letters of Justification to a “Museum Committee” (could be the teacher-inrole, teachers from other classrooms, members of the community). Each group will show their exhibit, then read
their letter of justification and answer any questions from the “committee.” Assessment will be based on how well
the justification describes the exhibit, proves that it is historically accurate, and explains why this scene from his
life should be included.
Summative Reflection
What did my students learn from this experience? What would I keep for next time? What would I do differently?
Describe - How did you use your voice, body, or props when you performed your Living Museum exhibit?
Analyze - How did your movement, voice, and dialogue help the audience understand what the scene was about?
Interpret - What was your favorite part about creating the living museum exhibit?
Decide - If you could perform this scene again, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?
Additional Resources:
5th Grade Living History Museum
Sample Informational Texts for Other Grade Levels
(based on examples listed in Appendix B Text Exemplars)
1. The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections. By Jan Mark; Illustrated by Richard
2. (K-1) A Weed is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver. By Aliki. (1965)
3. (K-1) Fire! Fire! By Gail Gibbons. (1984) “Fire in the City…”
4. (2-3) A Medieval Feast. By Aliki. (1983)
5. (2-3) Martin Luther King and the March on Washington. By Frances E. Ruffin. Illustrated by Stephen Marchesi.
6. (2-3) Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions Around the World. By Selby Beeler Illustrated by G.
Brian Karas. (2001)
7. (2-3) The Story of Ruby Bridges. By Robert Coles. Illustrated by George Ford.(1995)
8. (2-3) Lincoln: A Photobiography. By Russell Freedman.(1989)
9. (4-5) A History of US. By Joy Hakim. (2005)
10. (6-8) Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad. By Ann Petry.(1983)
11. (6-8) Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave. Written by Himself.(1845)
The Life of a Privateer
Imaging exercise
Picture of Sloop of War from late 1700’s or Page 322 in Anthology
Show picture (or use illustration on page 322) and discuss what comes to mind.
Explain “Imaging Exercise”
Imaging exercise:
In an imaging exercise, you use your imagination to create pictures inside your
head as you listen to a story. You try to imagine what it would be like if you were
there. You do not need to move at all. You can close your eyes if that makes it
easier. It takes practice to see the images clearly in your mind.
“Close your eyes and imagine you are sailing on a war ship. Smell the salt air; feel
the waves rocking the deck beneath you; listen to the wind and the creaking wood.
This is a long time ago – in fact, it is during the Revolutionary War. You are aboard
a 14-gun sloop that is a privateer. The British call you pirates – but you know
better – you are proud to be fighting on a privateer ship for the United States
colonies. As a privateer you get a share of whatever provisions you capture from a
British ship. Off on the horizon, another ship looms ahead. It is sailing right
towards you, and soon you will be engaged in battle. This ship is much bigger and
has many more guns – what if you lose? You have heard that the British will take
you into bondage and sell you as a slave if they capture you. You are nervous and
tentative as you prepare for the conflict ahead, but you will be ready when it
Name _____________________________________________________
Story Map for Planning TPT Scene as Living Museum Exhibit
Directions for Carousel
Players stand opposite a partner in a line or in two circles. (like a carousel)
Each partner is assigned a role (usually A or B)
Leader gives the players a situation to improvise with characters from the story.
Players switch roles (optional)
Player A
Player B
Farmer selling
Soldier at the
Soldier is buying what he needs
for a long voyage at sea.
James Forten
What did James say to convince
his mother to let him join the
privateer ship?
James Forten
Captain’s son
How did the two find out that
they both played the same
Fellow prisoner or
James Forten
captive on the British
Plan to try to escape from the
Influential Quaker Abolitionist
British slave trader
Should Africans be allowed to
attend school?
British soldier
Is a privateer the same thing as
a pirate?
Name __________________________________ Date _____________________________
FTD Character Worksheet
My character’s name: ________________________________________________
My character’s age: _________________________________________________
My character’s job: _________________________________________________
What my character is FEELING: ______________________________________
What my character is THINKING: ____________________________________
What my character is DOING: ______________________________________
What my character might be wearing _______________________________
Draw a picture of your character here.
Tableau Scene Checklist:
Clear "freeze"
Strong body poses
Bold facial expressions
Clear focal points
Everyone stays in character
Everyone is visible
Different levels (high/medium/low)
Stage picture is balanced
All of the pieces fit together
Group works well together
Everyone follows guides (play hard, play fair, nobody hurt)
Everyone has a part in the tableau
The group is able to form the tableau quickly and quietly
Theatre Arts Rubric
R 2.3 Discern main ideas and
concepts presented in texts,
identifying and assessing
evidence that supports those
Main Idea and
Supporting Details
Does the tableau show the
main idea from the selection of
the story? Is the action
supported by details in the
CRA 5.1 Use theatrical skills
(pantomime, tableau,
dialogue) to dramatize events
and concepts from other
curriculum areas, such as
reenacting the signing of the
Declaration of Independence
in history social science.
Required Elements for
Does the scene follow the TPT
– Tableau/Pantomime/Tableau
– format with improvised
dialogue added? Did all parts
of the scene fit together?
R 2.4 Draw inferences,
Using Inference to
Create Dialogue
Does the dialogue accurately
reflect details the story? Have
students used inference to
determine what the characters
will say?
Did the group work well
together? Can each person in
the group explain what the
scene is about?
conclusions, or
generalizations about text
and support them with
textual evidence and prior
CE 2.3 Collaborate as an
actor, director, scriptwriter,
or technical artist in creating
formal or informal theatrical
Introducing Tableau and Pantomime
Professor Kim Morin, CSUF
Arts Every Day 2010
First Steps... Establish Guidelines
Guidelines for Movement and Drama in the Classroom
Introduce three rules (taken from The New Games Book, 1976, Main Street Press):
1. Play hard. (It's no fun unless you invest some enthusiasm.)
2. Play fair. (Structure encourages creativity.)
3. Nobody hurt. (Physically or emotionally)
Practice Using Your Imagination
Draw a Picture In Your Mind
Leader describes a scene or setting; players sit with eyes closed and imagine the picture in their mind. Specific
descriptions work best.
Imagine a black stallion in a green field of grass with yellow and white flowers. The horse is standing behind a
white picket fence. Above is a brilliant blue sky with white wisps of clouds floating by ...
Warm-ups to Introduce Pantomime
Pantomime - Acting without words through facial expression, gesture, and movement.
Concentration Box
"Sitting at your desk or on the floor, imagine that there is a box in front of you. When you work with objects
inside the box, you need to CONCENTRATE or FOCUS so you only see what is inside your own box. Try to see it,
feel the surface -what is the texture? Pick it up. How heavy is it? What does it smell like? Reminders:
You cannot see anyone else. Focus on what is inside your own box.
Try to believe that you actually see the object within the box.
Actors and artists work for many years on the skill of CONCENTRATION.
Space Bubble
1. Players stand in "self space" either by their desks or around the room.
2. Have players create an imaginary bubble around themselves. The bubble extends all around them as far as
their arms can reach.
3. Have students define their bubbles by stretching their arms as far as they can all around their bodies,
without moving their feet. Stretch as high, low, and to the sides.
4. Explain that the "bubble" is like a space suit. You can see out a little -but just enough to keep from running
into anything, However, you cannot talk to anyone and if you touch someone else, your bubble will pop.
5. Begin doing movements in slow motion. Ask students to mirror your movements as you lead them through some
simple stretches, again without moving their feet. Use your own modeling and verbal cues to create a fairly uniform
sense of "slow motion".
6. Now, have participants move around the room in slow motion, making sure that their bubbles do not touch. **
Explain that when you say "Freeze", all participants should stop moving and hold their current position. Ask them to
freeze all parts of their bodies, including their eyes and faces. Space Bubble (Part 2) - Slow Motion Walk
7. Ask students to gradually increase their speed until they are walking at a normal pace. You could give examples if
8. Freeze. Ask students to gradually increase their speed until they are walking at a fast pace, but not running. Remind
them that their bubbles must not touch.
Walk About
Students "walk about" the classroom in their space bubbles.
They try walking in different environments.
Environments can be real - pine needles in a forest; cool water in a brook; hot sand on a beach; deep snow
Environments can be a fantasy-Spaghetti, Jello, a plate of pancakes
Tableau “Poses”
This approach:
Uses improvisation through movement and sound as a way to explore character by creating poses or "statues"
with your body.
Builds theatre skills simply and quickly.
Allows creative response within a structure that provides a "safe environment."
1. TURN AND FREEZE - Players stand in a circle facing out. On a count of 1-2-3Freeze -players turn into the circle and
freeze in a pose.
2. COUNT AND FREEZE - Count from 1
3. Players begin in neutral and grow from small to bigger to biggest and freeze on 5.
Pantomime Partners
Leader prepares cards with pairs of words.
Leader hands out the cards and instructs students not to show them to anyone else.
Students pantomime the action until they find their partner.
Partners stand together in a circle.
Partners share their pantomimes as the rest of the class guesses.
 Students can pantomime action words, animals, characters from a story, adjectives, emotions, etc.
 Pantomimes are silent -no verbal cues allowed!
 Allow students to finish a pantomime before the class guesses.
 Try to limit the number of guesses to about 3, then let the student tell what it is.
Narrative Pantomime
Someone "narrates" the action while the players act it out through pantomime.
Narrative Pantomime can be read directly from a story.
Example: Runaway Bunny -Margaret Wise Brown
Players line up to face partners. One line plays "Mama Bunny" and one line plays "Baby
Adding Dialogue
Simple Techniques for adding dialogue
1. Tapping Out
2. Add a Line
Theatre Vocabulary (from VAPA Frameworks)
Character: The personality or part an actor re-creates.
Collaborate: The act of working on a joint intellectual effort.
Dialogue: The conversation between actors on stage, in film, and in television or videos.
Downstage: The stage area toward the audience.
Gesture: The movement of a body part or combination of parts, with emphasis on the expressive aspects of the
Imaging: Using your imagination to create pictures inside your head as you listen to a story
Improvisation: A spontaneous style in which scenes are created without advance rehearsing or scripting.
Narrative Pantomime: utilizes a storyteller or narrator as one or others act out the action of the narrative.
Pantomime: Acting without words through facial expression, gesture, and movement.
Puppetry: Almost anything brought to life by human hands to create a performance. Types of puppets include
rod, hand, and marionette.
Reader’s Theatre: A performance crated by actors reading a script rather than working from memory.
Scene: The setting of the action of a play, story, etc.; a division of a play, usually part of an act.
Script: The written text of a play.
Setting: The locale of the action of the play.
Stage Left and Right: The left and right side of the stage from the perspective of an actor facing the audience.
Tableau: A silent, motionless depiction of a scene created by actors, often from a picture.
TPT scene: Tableau/Pantomime – in slow motion/Tableau
Terms to Keep in Mind
Unison or Simultaneous play - Everyone plays at the same time
Solo - Everyone plays as an individual. No Interaction between the participants.
Tableau - A silent and motionless depiction of a scene created by actors, often from a picture. The plural is tableaux.
Improvisation - A spontaneous style of theatre in which scenes are created without advance rehearsing or scripting.
Pantomime - Acting without words through facial expression, gesture, and movement.
Side Coach-the leader coaches the action from the side to help participants be more committed or try new things.
Gesture - An expressive movement of the body or limbs.
Creative Expression - Encourage responses to be unique and exploratory.
Ensemble - A group of theatrical artists working together to create a theatrical production.