Who doesn’t like the story of The Three Little Pigs? It was one of the favorites in Room 623.
The teacher would read that story through one of the Mayer Johnson interactive readers when the children first came into the unit. The students loved everything about The Three Little Pigs. They had fun placing the little characters on the pages in the story book when asked questions.
Where is pig number one, pig number two and pig number three? They would have to find the numbers on each of the pigs. The teacher would continue to read, “Pig number one built his house out of straw. Pig number two built his house out of wood. What did pig number three build her house out of?”
Those children that were verbal would answer brick. Those that could not talk would show the picture of bricks. All the children learned that story and for whatever reason favored it.
As the students grew older, they still seemed to favor The Three Little Pigs. Maybe it was something about the big bad wolf. Maybe it was that the pigs had friends they could trust and go to. It simply was a favorite story in the classroom. On Fridays, in the afternoon, the teacher would often reward the students for all their hard work with a movie. One day, she found the Three Little Pigs on the internet and showed the video to the children. As expected, it was a big hit. Then she decided to try something different.
The PPCD unit across the hall had a small theater for creative play. The teacher already had three little pig puppets and a huge wolf hand puppet. So she borrowed the theater and wrote a very simple play for the children. One of the older students was asked to be the narrator.
The boy didn’t mind doing the reading but made it clear he wanted to be the big bad wolf, too.
So the narrator portion was split into two parts. Then, the second narrator refused to be the big bad wolf. He was terrified of the creature. In the end, every child got a part in the play. Some were pigs, others were the big bad wolf. The teacher had debated on creating lots of pigs but the children who could talk said no to that idea. They would take turns being the three pigs instead.
Finally, the dress rehearsal was on. Each child “hid” behind the theater. The teacher decided to place some chairs for some of the children to rotate in and out as pigs and the wolf. The kids began to giggle and were very animated. Each child had a part and knew what he or she had to do. The children decided themselves who would be a pig or the wolf. Even the least able of the children participated.
They loved the experience and knew exactly what to do. It didn’t matter that the lines got mixed up here and there. For the children, they became the animals in the play.
The play didn’t stop with the theater. Once choice time started in the classroom, the children began to reenact the play anywhere and everywhere, out by the slide, over by the class library and all around the bean bags. The pig puppets were requested and a tug of war popped up around the wolf. The children remembered the lines and acted out the play with their friends. They did quite well and it was a joy to watch them.
It amazed the teacher on how much fun the children had with taking something they had learned over the years into creative play.
Pamela Gross Downing, a special education teacher can be reached at email@example.com.