The teaching of literature in classrooms is largely based on the classical teacher-at-the-front-of-the-class teaching method. When history is taught for example, the question of whether it has been absorbed is of secondary importance. This clearly has its drawbacks because this static teaching method only suits very few children. Fortunately, there are more and more schools, such as the Gorch-Fock-Schule in Bremerhaven, which are more and more incorporating methods such as the “project week”. They acquire the funding for these from either the city, other funding associations or even from the federal state. Using these funds, artists* are invited to the schools to show the children new and creative ways of approaching a subject.

Peter Pan’s world under the magnifying glass

During a literature week, the world of Peter Pan was brought to life. The children built masks, painted pictures of octopuses, developed fairy dances, rehearsed sailor songs, and finally presented it all live on stage. In preparation, the students* had read the story of Peter Pan in class.

For the first part of the project week we talked about the places that make up the setting of the story: Neverland, Peter Pan’s underground cave, the pirate ship Jolly Roger, Wendy’s children’s room. At the end of the project week, each child was assigned a specific aspect or area of the stage. Using their own designs I made miniature models of these and of the entire stage with them. These were later used as the blueprint for the actual life sized ones.

Model making in cardboard and then in large for the stage

Building together: Jolly Roger is alive!

The second part of the project week went from individual designs to planned group work! Teamwork was the motto! My main intention was to make it clear to the students* that a large collaborative project is a series of progressive steps that need to be done in a certain order. The students* built, glued and painted a stage set; half an octopus, half a rock. Later, the theatre group took us on a journey to Peter Pan’s magical Neverland; while the stage design group arranged the props and moved the tentacles and eyes of the evil octopus to bring it to life.

The project lasted one week and was designed for 4th grade, i.e. 10-year-old children.

 

Peter Pan at the Theater Fischereihafen Bremerhaven

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