This process drama is based on the story The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz. It was originally written to enhance the engagement of students with additional needs in literacy including reading, writing and comprehension. It is also intended to develop the self-confidence, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration skills of the young people involved.
- Book: Wojtowicz, J. (2005). The Boy Who Grew Flowers. Cambridge: Barefoot Book
- Shoebox with mock shoes.
- Craft materials for grass heads.
- Print out of front cover of book.
- Two hats (similar in make). One has flowers sprouting out of the top.
- Flower on a clip.
- Bunch of roses (preferably fake).
- Dance posters.
- Similar / Difference Sheet and Textas.
- Butcher’s Paper.
1. Warm-up - Nambols: Students create nambols to present to the class. This requires them to say their name in a ‘different’ voice (varying tone, pitch, volume etc.) and adding a physical movement to their name. It is like a moving / physical signature. Each student presents their nabol to the class and the class must repeat it in exactly the same voice with exactly the same movement. This is done in unison. Pair Jive: Students move around the space to music. When the music stops they must find a partner. They can not work with the same partner twice. When they have their partner they must wait quietly until they are given a pair challenge to complete. They only have 30 seconds to complete the challenge. Challenges could include - Creating a secret handshake, a thumb war, sharing what ice-cream flavour you would be if you were ice-scream, sharing a favourite movie, create a new innovative high five, having a wheel barrow race. The point of this exercise is to relax students and get them to feel more comfortable working with each other.
2. Contract - As the students are new to Drama, begin by establishing the guidelines for today’s workshop. Each student can contribute a rule or thought to a class contract. (Eg. Today we will listen to each others ideas.) These points should come from the students themselves - not from the teacher. Also, use this moment to let the students know that you will be playing characters at different points in the workshop. You will clearly indicate this by changing your clothing or adding an accessory. Giving them a heads up saves confusion!
3. Front Cover - Sit students in a circle. Place a picture of the front cover of the book in front of the students. Ask the students to take a moment to look at the picture. What do they see? What do they think? What do they wonder? Discuss. Make one student stand like the boy in the picture. Give the student pink flowers and shoes to hold. Taking it in turns around the circle, students add a sentence to Rink’s story. This is an opportunity to turn their imaginations on. You can begin by reading, “Rink Bowagon was a boy from a deep country.” After each student has had a turn read the whole first page to the class.
4. Special Talents - Settle the students. “Sit in your own space. Make sure you have room to move without interrupting or distracting another. Close your eyes and listen to my voice. What is your special talent or skill? Maybe you can sing like a nightingale or balance a spoon on your nose… or maybe you can become invisible or walk a tightrope between mountains. You might already know what your special talent is or maybe you dream of some magical power. Think about what this talent might be and imagine yourself doing it. (Pause). Whatever that talent is I want you to open your eyes and begin practicing your talent or skill in the space you have around you. Imagine you have the equipment you need in front of you. Slowly practice this talent over and over again until you get it perfect.” Give students the opportunity to practice their talent and once you think they all have something invite them to the circle. One by one ask them to introduce themselves again. They being with their nambol, say what their talent is and then act out their talent. Give each student the biggest, most amazing round of applause ever. When you are finished read the page, “The Bowagons were the only folks ….and exotic talents. Rink’s Uncle Dud liked to tame rattlesnakes… (and here add in all the wonderful talents that the students just imagined. Eg. If a student named Anna pretended to tightrope walk in the early part of this activity you would insert her name and talent here… ‘His sister Anna could walk on tightropes that reached from the peak of one mountain to the next’ and so on.) “
5. Introduce Rink - Teacher steps into role as Rink. You could make a hat with flowers sprouting from the top as a prop. (I began with a plain hat, then asked them to close their eyes and when they opened it I had another hat on with flowers sprouting.) “Hi… I’m Rink and I have a pretty special talent… I well… um… you promise not to laugh? Well um… I don’t really tell people this, but I um… well I sprout flowers all over my body during the full moon.” Transition out of role. Read the part of the story, “Yes…. Rink himself had the most special talent of all…. you ever saw.”
6. Flower Power - Ask the students to close their eyes again for a moment. “Imagine for a moment that you could sprout flowers from your body. What would it be like to spout flowers from your body? If this was your special talent, what type of flowers would you sprout? What would your flowers look like? Are they large or small? What colour are they? What are the shape of the petals? The leaves? What do your flowers smell like? Feel like? Imagine every small detail. (Pause) In a moment you will hear music. This signifies that the full moon has risen. When you hear the music, you are going to grow from your position on the floor to the flower you just imagined blooming. You will become the flower; making the shape of the stem and the petals with your body and once you have finished blooming you will freeze and open your eyes seeing all the other beautiful flowers that have bloomed under the full moon.” Play music and allow the students to bloom. Once they have fully bloomed move around the garden and talk about the flowers. (Eg. “I can see this flower is very tall and proud. Look at the delicate petals on this flower here etc.”) Once you are done discussing the flowers you can ask the students to relax and sit. What flowers did they admire the most as they looked around the room? Why do you think flowers bloomed on Rink? Read the following part of the book, “Some folks might say….so they stayed a safe distance from him.”
7. Playground Ease Dropping - Tell the students that they are now going to all imagine they are students in the playground at Rink’s school. It is the morning and everyone is arriving for the day. All the students are talking about Rink. They are spreading rumours about him. Tell them they can speak about Rink but when Rink comes near them they must change the topic of conversation or otherwise the teacher will be notified. Transition into role as Rink. Move around the space as students spread the rumours. They should change the topic of conversation as Rink approaches. Continue this task for approximately 5 minutes. Eventually remove your hat indicating your character and ask the children to sit down. What did they hear about Rink on the playground? How did they feel when they were spreading rumours about Rink? How did they feel when they saw Rink? How did they think Rink felt? Tell the students that they will now have an opportunity to see how Rink felt. They can ask Rink questions, but they aren’t playing the students in Rink’s own school. They are to ask questions as themselves.
8. Rink Hot Seating - Teacher-in-role as Rink. Rink looks very sad. Students begin to ask questions. In role as Rink let the students know he doesn’t sit with the other kids at school. Rink also needs to divulge that he does have hope because their is a new girl at school named Angelina Quiz. Her family is from Tuscaloosa and her family runs a ballroom dancing business… oh and she has one leg longer then the other and she always wears a flower behind her ear. Transition out of role. Read the following from the book, “One day…(through to)...The question rattled in their minds.”
9. Similar / Different - Give the students a similar / different sheet. (See file at the bottom of this post.) Ask the students to move around the space and for each student in the group find one thing they have in common and one thing that is different about them. The students write this on their sheets. Music can play in the background. When they have finished talk about some of the things they found they had in common and some of the things they found that were different. On a piece of butcher’s paper brainstorm as a class what Angelina and Rink have in common and what is different. When they are done ask the question, do you think they could end up being friends? Why?
10. Going to the Dance - Place a poster for a school dance up in the space. “The teacher announced that there was going to be a school dance and everyone wanted to go with Angelina.” Tell the students that they all want to go to the dance with Angelina. Each of them have to come up with a creative way to ask her. Tell the students that one of them will play Angelina and you are hoping they can convince her to go to the dance with them. Give the students some time to think. Tell them that will each take a turn to ask Angelina. You will then make a decision about who you will go with based on the most creative and heart-felt invitation. Transition a student into the role of Angelina. (Tell this student that she must turn down all of the offers in a very polite and kind manner. Eg. Thank you for you offer, but I am visiting my grandmother that evening.) The student may wear a flower behind their ear to signify the character. Students take it in turns to ask Angelina to the dance. She very kindly and gently turn them away. Transition the student out of role. Tell them that although the offers were very heartfelt and kind, Angelina was really thinking about Rink. Read the section of the book beginning, “One afternoon, the teacher….such a pretty, sunny day.” Ask the students what they think Rink ran home to do. What was his plan?
11. The Shoes - “Do you know what he did? He went home and made some dancing shoes for Angelina.” Produce a shoe box. You can put shoes in them for weight, but the box is never to be opened. Tell the students that Rink went home and made shoes for Angelina and they were in the box. Ask the students to imagine what you think these shoes are like. Ask them to think about how he made them and what they were made of. Explain that you are going to pass the box around the circle and when they receive the box they must tell us something about the shoes that we don’t already know. (Eg. One student might decide the colour… the next might describe buttons or the shape of the toe.) Encourage students to extend on their answers. (Eg. If a student says they are red ask them what sort of red… red like a stop sign, red like a rose etc.) When the box has been passed around the room completely, read the section of the book spanning from “When Rink reached his home…the top of his head.” However, as you read interject the descriptions the students came up with. (Eg. If they say they were made of velvet find velvet under the bed etc.)
12. Living Journal - This can be done in two ways. You could separate boys and girls with the boys becoming the collective voice for Rink and the girls becoming the collective voice for Angelina or the whole group could be the collective voice for Angelina or Rink. I separated boys and girls to get both perspectives of the story. As a collective voice ask students to recall the day that Rink took the shoes and asked Angelina to the dance. (Note: You haven’t read this part of the story yet. Hopefully, they will come up with a story just as good as the original!) Begin the diary entry, “Dear Diary, Today was a special day…” The students then take it in turns to continue the diary entry. The first student will vocalise the first part of the entry. The teacher will indicate when the next student takes it up etc. until all students have a turn contributing the diary entry for that day. Side-coach students through this exercise asking them to describe what they saw, heard, felt etc. When you are done read “That afternoon….(through to) …together down the path.”
13. The Dance - Angelina told Rink that she was going to teach him how to dance. Ask the students to stand in a circle. Tell the students that we are all going to learn how to dance. When the music begins every body is going to copy the moves of the person in the centre of the circle. When the teacher says change the person in the centre of the circle points to another student who takes over the dance lesson in the centre of the circle. Assure the students that we all have different ways of dancing just like we have different talents and all forms of dancing will be embraced by the group. Each student dances and the group all follow their moves. When they are done ask them how it felt to dance freely and lead the group. How do you think Rink and Angelina would have felt dancing together?
14. The Reveal - Read the page that begins “After the dance…” Pair students up with each other. Tell the students that one of the pair will play Rink and one will play Angelina. They are to prepare a performance showing the conversation between Rink and Angelina in this moment of the play. What would be said? How would they respond? Tell them that they are going to show their performance to the class when they are done. Give them 6 minutes to prepare this conversation. When they perform they can wear Rink’s hat or the flower behind Angelina’s ear. Discuss the results of these performances. Which conversations were truthful? Why? How did they feel playing those characters? How have Rink and Angelina changed as a result of meeting each other?
15. Green Thumbs - Read them the remainder of the story. Tell them that they are going to create green Rink and Angelina’s children. Students create grass heads - See the link. Students then name and introduce their children to the group noting any other special talents they may have. Students can take these home with them.
16. Final Thoughts - Students are asked to reflect on the story. Set them up like a discussion panel. Teacher plays the host of a book review show. Students are interviewed about the story as though they are expert book reviewers, writers, publishers etc. The teacher asks them questions such as - What did you think when you first saw the cover of the book? What was interesting about the characters in the story? How are the characters changed as a result of the events in the story? What can we learn from the different characters? What do you like / dislike about the illustrations? Would you recommend this story to others? Why? Thank them for their expert opinion.
17. Evaluation - Students evaluate the day by vocalising some thoughts from the workshop. Encourage students to tell you what they liked; what they found difficult; what they would like you to do differently next time. Congratulate them for their participation!
Follow-up Writing Tasks:
Poem - Students write a poem about ‘The Boy Who Grew Flowers’ paying particular attention to the challenges this posed for him and the way he felt about his special talent.
Rink or Angelina’s Journal - Students write a journal entry from the perspective of Rink or Angelina based on their diary entry they performed as a group. This entry should be about the day Rink visited Angelina and asked her to the dance.
Letter to Angelina - Write a letter from Rink to Angelina thanking her for accompanying him to the dance. This letter should be heart-felt. Remind the students of the way they felt when they were dancing in the group activity.
Similar / Different - Students choose either Rink or Angelina and create a table listing the similarities and the differences between themselves and that character.
Shoe Design - Students draw and label the shoes they imagined in the process drama paying particular attention to the little details that were described.
Book Review - Students recall the panel discussion. Using this discussion as a stimulus for a written book review. You may need to scaffold the book review asking students to note the characters, plot, language, illustrations, themes/ideas and how they personally related to the text.
Dance Poster - Students create a poster to advertise the upcoming school dance.
My Amazing Talent - Students write a personal reflection on their special talents and abilities. They may like to read this to the class.
Some of the music I used to enhance this workshop included:
- Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Neverland Soundtrack, The Spoon on the Nose.
- Walk the Moon, Shut Up and Dance.
- The Piano Guys, The Cello Song.
- Glee Cast, True Colours.
- Yiruma, River Flows in You.
- Pharrell Williams, Happy.