Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

Yvette A. Kolstad
Subject: Drama
Time: 45 minutes x 2 days = 90 minutes
Topic: The children will use drama techniques to perform the story, Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni.

Rationale: Dramatic activities promote enjoyment of literature, increase reading comprehension, and help develop oral expression. It is important for children to engage in activities which help to develop their creative potential. Drama allows children to understand and value the feelings of others in a unique and expressive way. The students will also engage in problem-solving as they negotiate their roles in their groups.

Goals/Objectives: This lesson addresses all four goals of Theatre Education as stated in the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework.

Artistic Perception: (1) The students will brainstorm answers to two questions (see Introduction) regarding the story. (2) Students will perform the story in front of their classmates and later engage in a class discussion about the experience.

Creative Expression: (3) Students will dramatize the story using expressive dialogue, clear and loud voices, appropriate facial emotions and body gestures. (4) Students will develop their knowledge of vocabulary words through learning and practicing dialogue.

Historical and Cultural Context: (5) Students will participate in a class discussion of the story and, specifically, their understanding of "friendship."

Aesthetic Valuing: (6)The children will discuss their feelings about the performance orally and in journals.

Strategy: Direct instruction will help facilitate guided discovery.

Acting out a story.
Characters: People or animals in a story.
Actors: Children who act out the characters.
Script: The copy of the text of a play.
Stage: The area where the play will be presented.
Set: Arrangement of characters on the stage.
Scenes: Places where the play is divided.
Stage Presence: Facial expressions, movements and emotions shown by the actors.
Rehearse: Practice your part with the rest of your group.

Introduction: I'll ask the children two questions to which we'll brainstorm answers on the white board. The first one is: "Did you ever wish you were someone or something else?" The second question is, "Why is it important to have a good friend?" We'll transfer these responses to a chart later.

Day 1:
(1) I'll read the story "Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse" to the students. I'll check their vocabulary comprehension by asking them if there were any words they didn't understand. (I will have introduced the vocabulary words listed above previous to today's lesson so that they will be ready to activate this schemata.) (2) After reading the story, I''ll ask the children some follow-up questions. "Why did Alexander want to be the Wind-Up Mouse?" and "Why did he change his mind?" (3) I'll tell the students that I've written Mr. Lionni's story into a dramatization that they can take turns acting out. I'll choose some children to help me do a walk-through (model for the class.) I'll demonstrate "expressive dialogue," "loud and clear voice," and "appropriate facial emotions and body gestures." (4) I'll divide the children into groups of four and let them rehearse in their groups. They will negotiate which role they would like to play in their group. Day 2: (5) After rehearsing, they'll come up (group by group) to perform for the rest of the class.

Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse

Narrator: "This is the story of Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. Scene 1."

Lady or Man: "Help! Help! A mouse!" (Scream then chase Alexander into a corner with a small broom.)

Alexander: "Why do they always yell at me?"

Willy Wind-Up Mouse "Squeak!"

Alexander: "Who are you?"

Willy: "I am Willy the wind-up mouse. I'm Annie's favorite toy. They wind me to make me run in circles, they cuddle me, and at night. I sleep on a soft white pillow between the doll and teddy bear. Everyone loves me."

Alexander: (Sadly) "They don't care much for me. Let's go look for crumbs."

Willy: "I can't. I can only move when they wind me. But I don't mind. Everybody loves me."

Alexander: "I like you too." (They hug and go play together.)

Narrator: "Scene 2. A few weeks pass. Alexander and Willy have spent many fun hours together. Now it is nighttime."

Alexander: (Curled up sleeping) "I'm lonely. Why can't I be a wind-up mouse like Willy and be cuddled and loved?"

Willy: (Comes over to Willy) "I've heard that there's a magic lizard who lives in the garden that can change one animal into another."

Alexander: "Do you mean that he could change me into a wind-up mouse like you?" (Walks to garden and looks for lizard) Lizard, lizard can you change me into a wind-up mouse?"

Lizard: (Crawls up to Alexander) "When the moon is round bring me a purple pebble."

Narrator: Alexander searched for days and days. He found yellow pebbles and blue pebbles and yellow pebbles - but not one tiny purple pebble. He returned to the house tired and hungry. He saw a box full of old toys. Then he saw Willy.

Alexander: (Surprised) "Willy, what happened?"

Willy: (Sadly) "Annie had a birthday and she is throwing some of her toys away."

Alexander: (Sadly) "Oh no!" (Sees purple pebble laying on the ground.) "Look! Could it be?" (Takes pebble and runs out to garden.) "Lizard, lizard, in the bush."

Lizard: "The moon is round, the pebble found. Who or what do you wish to be?"

Alexander: "I want to be - - -Lizard, lizard, could you change Willy into a mouse like me?" (Hands the pebble to Lizard who runs away.) (Alexander runs back to the house and looks inside the now empty box.) (Sadly) "I'm too late."

Willy: (Pause) "Squeak!!" (Moves next to Alexander)

Alexander: (A little frightened) "Who are you?"

Willy: "My name is Willy."

Alexander: (Happy and excited) "Willy! The lizard - - - the lizard did it!" (They hug and dance and dance)

(The entire cast should come out and take a bow!)


Closure: After the groups have each performed, I'll ask the class to be seated on the carpet for a discussion. I'll ask them to share their feelings and thoughts about their performance orally. Do they have any questions about the experience? We'll refer back to our chart made earlier (Introduction) and add any class responses.

Clean-up: Any furniture that was moved should be returned along with character identification cards and/or costumes, props and scripts.

Evaluation: (1, 2, & 5) The teacher will evaluate student answers recorded on the chart. Participation in group discussions and performance are important components of this lesson and will be recorded as "Participated" or "Did not Participate." (3) The teacher will use a rubric to record whether students demonstrated expressive dialogue, clear and loud voice, appropriate facial emotions and body gestures. (4) The students will pass a written theatre vocabulary quiz with 80% accuracy to demonstrate their knowledge of the vocabulary words learned. (6) The teacher will monitor student journals and record "Reflected", or "Did not Reflect."

Book: Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni.
Scripts for each child with their parts highlighted.
Costumes or character identification tags for each child.
A Large Purple Pebble
A Large Empty Box

Extensions: The children can use puppets that they create in a separate lesson to act out the story. Older students can write additional scenes.