Four Dollars and Fifty Cents Part 1

Grade Level

3rd Grade

Pedagogical Objective

Students will better understand vocabulary words in curriculum and story content, with emphasis on vocabulary. Cooperative play and mime exercises build a creative, non-critical community within the classroom. This frees students to use kinetic and linguistic intelligence to enhance the learning experience. By observing the movements of others, students are inspired to develop and explore their own movement. Cooperative play encourages its participants to work cooperatively rather than competitively; to relax, open their minds and trust each other, to discharge distractive energy, to celebrate life and community. Interacting through pantomime movement creates an opportunity for students to consider unique perspectives that may not be realized when words are employed.

Artistic Output

Students will review mime techniques, work cooperatively, and create ensemble vignettes that define vocabulary words.

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students will read the story from the curriculum and, using the art of cooperative play and pantomime, explore the meanings of key vocabulary words within the story.

Length of Lesson

This is a 70 minute lesson, the third session in a ten-session unit.


Open Court curriculum reading “Money” Level 3, Unit 4, Four Dollars and Fifty Cents.


This lesson is especially useful in a language immersion classroom.


Color-coded vocabulary cards

Instructional Plan


  • These games allow students to be physically active while creating a learning community within the classroom.
  • Nonverbal waving to say hello.
  • “Follow the Leader.”
  • In a circle. The artist leads, demonstrating the activity. One person leads, making motions in place, and the others mimic those motions. Approximately four students take turns leading.
  • Create a movement for your name. Each child says their name while doing a movement. All others repeat.

Introductory Activity

  • Mime Review: “The Snap,” “The Wall,” and the fundamentals of mime.
    See object, touch object, pick it up, interact with it, set it down and release it. Emphasizes letting the entire body tell the story, including the face, showing the emotion of the character. Demonstrated the illusion of moving along the wall. In a circle, students reflect upon the story and briefly mime actions in the story.

Developmental Activity

  • Read the “money” story from your curriculum if students have not yet read it. If they have, either re-read the story if time permits, or else briefly have students outline the story as they remember it.

Guided Practice

  • “What’s the Word,” a vocabulary exercise, focusing on the following words: “decent”, “blacksmith”, “determined”, “collecting”, “volunteer”. (Can change words to fit your ELA story).
  • Artist-in-residence displays each of five vocabulary cards to the class in a circle. The artist-in-residence asks “What’s the Word?” The class repeats it back a few times, practicing the pronunciation. The leader asks for a student to define the word. Then the whole class repeats the definition aloud. Then the artist asks students to use the word in a sentence.
  • The class is divided into groups. Each group receives a colored card with a vocabulary word, its definition and a scenario to depict the word through mime interaction. The students had the prerogative to change the scenario. Groups worked together to prepare a mime of their scenario. Teacher is the coach only.
  • Each group of performers mime their word twice to the rest of the group. The audience must remain silent until the scenario is completed.
  • When the performers have completed the scenario, three members of the audience go to the board. The audience guesses what the word is for each group and the students at the board write down the votes—spelling out each word. (Variation, member of each team writes the word on the board for the team).
  • Students critique the performance. They give recommendations on how the story could be mimed differently so it would be more interesting or clear.
  • The audience applauds the performers and the next group comes up. If time, mix words and let each group try a new word.

Reflective Practice

  • Students change groups and describe, on paper, what parts of the activity was best and which they did not like. Then all come back together and share their thoughts.
  • Nonverbal waving to say good-bye.

Assessment standards


Students are able to create characters and scenes to communicate their vocabulary words
Students can analyze scenarios for information
Students evaluate their own experiences and others works for improvement


Students use movement to convey who/what they are
Students use their bodies to illustrate a concept or idea


Students associate what makes this project good and bad
Students associate to understanding others points of view

Content Standards

MI PA Standards, Elementary Art: Performing/Theatre

MI PA 1.1 Use variations of locomotor and non-locomotor movement and vocal pitch, tempo, and tone for different characters.
MI PA 2.1 Collaborate to select interrelated characters, environments, and situations for classroom dramatizations.

MI English Language Proficiency Standards

L.3.1.a Use active listening comprehension in a variety of situations such as following directions, responding to requests, and listening for specific purposes
S.2.4.b Talk about experiences using expanded vocabulary, descriptive words and paraphrasingS.4.3.b Participate actively in content area discussions with peers and teachers
R.5.2.a Participate in discussions describing characters, setting, events and plot


This lesson encourages students to work together to try to come to an understanding about their learning. It also provides a framework for students to begin translating story elements physically and helps those who are bodily/kinesthetic learners to help discover methods of learning that work best for them.
By Teaching Artist David Conklin

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