The Story of Esther: plays and performance alive in a Waldorf classroom

This past block Grade Three immersed themselves in the Story of Esther.  Esther was a brave women written about in the Torah/Old Testament who went against the decree of her husband to save her tribe;  the Israelites.  This story explores themes of togetherness, standing up against authority as well as honesty and truth.   These themes really resonate with the Grade Three class at Waldorf Academy.

Every year each class is given a unique opportunity to spend a concentrated amount of time on putting together a theatrical presentation.  The inclusion of play performance is deliberate in the Waldorf curriculum and exercises many curriculum objectives while providing a wonderful experience of hard work.  This year the grade three class was given individual roles and scenes for the first time!  We first introduced the story of Esther through listening to the whole story.  After a few days of allowing the story to marinate it was brought back with a game! The children were split into small groups and asked to create tableaus from memory; the dynamic images created here became the blueprint of the visual presentation.  The children then sequenced the tableaus and created a comic strip of the scenes.  When we  finally assigned roles and brought it to its feet the children organically included music and movement learned in other units to bring the vibrant life of the story together. They worked hard to master not only a difficult script but were instrumental in the piecing together of choreography, morphing the stage to take on five different environments and multitask roles, instruments and costume pieces.

The experience of play-making is so integral for a child’s learning and creates lasting images of the learning process for years to come.   Waldorf education in its essence;  “is one that seeks to offer an experiential and holistic engagement with the natural world and human civilization in a way that finds a correspondence between the content of the curriculum and the inner development of the child.” (Paul Hogham) The experience of putting on Esther and her brave story provided that opportunity for the children and it is often heard throughout the classroom “What would Esther do”.

Lauren Commeford

grade three main lesson teacher

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