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Coming Attractions Theater

Create book-report movies and a miniature theater in which to show them! Stage original plays and present science experiments on the screen, too.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Thomas Edison built the first movie theater in February 1893 in West Orange, New Jersey. It was called a Kinetographic Studio. Have students research background information about this theater and compare it to the construction of theaters today. As a class, discuss how Edison's theater is similar and different from movie theaters built today.
    2. Assign small groups of students various novels to read. This reading experience can be organized as Literature Circles. During the reading experience, encourage students to document main characters, plot highlights, the setting of the story, and other details about the book. Once students have completed the read, they select which of the book's scenes, characters, and main events they wish to include in their movie.
    3. Students will use the lower half of a single student desk as their movie screen. To form the movie screen, the group will cut a long rectangular piece of rolled, white bulletin board paper. The height of the paper will need to be cut to the distance between the floor and the opening in the desk for student books. The length of the paper should correspond to the number of scenes being presented by the group multiplied by the width of the desk opening. For example, if the group has six scenes to illustrate and the opening of the lower part of the desk is 24", then 6 x 24 = 144". Students should also provide a few extra inches for at the beginning of the scroll and at the end.
    4. Once students have cut their movie scene paper, cover the work area with recycled newspaper and use Crayola® Washable Paints and Paint Brushes to create movie scenes. Crayola Washable Markers and colored pencils will be useful when adding smaller details. Remind students to include an opening scene with the title of their book and its author. At the end of their movie, students should also include a credits scene which includes the book reporters and movie illustrators.
    5. Students crate a fabric state curtain for their "theater" using recycled material and Crayola School Glue.
    6. It is now time for the show! Students present their "movies". Classmates in the audience can act as movie critics and evaluate the presentation.
  • Standards

    LA: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

    LA: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

    LA: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

    MATH: Compute fluently with multi-digit numbers and find common factors and multiples.

    MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

  • Adaptations

    In small groups, students compose and original script for their theater presentation, which follows the main ideas of their read. Student writing can be hand-written or word processed. The presentation can be video-taped and uploaded to a class computer for viewing by any students who missed the live performance.

    Students choose a social studies topic currently under study by the class. In small groups, students write an original play of a particular event from the appropriate time period. Groups present their performances live (or via video-taping) using the Coming Attractions Theaters and have classmates evaluate the authenticity of the writing/story line.

    The American Museum of Moving Images was established in 1988 in New York to educate the public about the history of film. Los Angeles, California, is the city whose name is synonymous with the American motion picture industry. Students research the history of movies and how movies, as well as their content and themes, have changed over time.

    Working in teams of two or small groups, students create a poster to advertise their upcoming movie premier. Use oak tag as the background material for the poster. Post the advertisement the day before your movie's presentation to excite classmates about the event.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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