Like Diana R. Jenkins' previous volume, *** this is a diverse, interesting, funny and useful collection of short plays written for school children at about the forth and fifth grade level through eighth grade. There are a total of nineteen plays in this offering. The theme of the overall work is "special times," which translates to special events that impact the student's life throughout the school year. We have a play for the beginning of the school year, ending of the school year, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Snow days, Easter, Mother's day, Spring Break, Winter Break , Fall Break, Halloween...well, you get the picture.
This is a rather unique educational tool and approaches the subject of drama, or school plays, in something of a different manner. First, there are no lines to memorize here. The plays work quite well being read by the students as they give their presentation. There is no need for special effects, a stage, props, costumes or make-up. No, everything needed can pretty well be found in the classroom and the costumes are pretty much what the kids are wearing on a daily basis.
Interestingly enough, woven into each of the play themes the author has addressed issues which are extremely important to this age group; peer pressure, jealousy, fear of failure, loyalty, friendship, acceptance, the fear of being different...yes, they are all here. They are problems our kids face on a daily basis. They need to learn to cope and these little skits perhaps will help with a bit of insight for them.
Each of the plays offers roles for both boys and girls, groups of six to twelve for the most part, and each play is designed to give both students and teacher's freedom to fool with the script if they feel it is appropriate or what they are most comfortable with. I will tell you truthfully that this author has a wonderful sense of humor and it shines though, along with her obvious knowing her primary subject...kids! I found no play in this entire work that a youth of this age group would not be able to relate to on one level or another.
Not only does this writer know her subject matter but fortunately for us...she can write and write well! Again, as I read and reviewed the work here I found absolutely no flaws in dialog, no unrealistic situations...now awkwardness what-so-ever. The plays all have a very nice edge on them which make them ideal for this age group. There is no hokey "preachy stuff" here that will cause a young person's eyeballs to roll to the back of their heads, but on the other hand the author has never once gone across the line into areas which make some adults, some teachers and some parents apprehensive. No, what we have here, as with her previous collection, is good clean sardonic, irreverent fun with just a slight edge to it...just the thing to keep a kids interest going. I found no skit in this entire collection which could not be played out in front of Mrs. Grundy, yet the kids will see the humor in many of the lines and each and every offering teaches some very important life lessons.
It should be noted that the author has taken much of the work out of the process for the teacher. The script is of course given and is extremely readable with parts for all reading levels. A summary of each play is given along with a list of what few props and costume requirements there may be along with suggestions as to presentation. A nice supplemental reading list is given with each play.
School plays, class room plays, drama club plays are all an important part of the learning process. We start relieving and facing the fear that most people have of speaking in front of a group. The child learns organization and cooperation. Reading and writing skills are enhanced and who knows...it may light the little spark inside one of our future great actor or actress! You just never know! Be that as it may, kids love doing these little class projects. They can present them to other classes, civic groups, nursing home residents, family members or invited guests....or simply to each other!
I would most certainly recommend and would wish that each and every school library (if not every class room) have a copy of this work available for the teaching staff. It is an extremely valuable resource and I must say that you are certainly getting a lot for your money...a big bang for your bucks, with this one.