Alternate Activity 2: Story Hot Seat
Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story, "The Sword of Wood"
Preparation for Activity
- Move the chairs into a half circle with one chair set apart as if on a stage.
- Review the story. Try to imagine what the voice of the shah or the Jew would be like, and how they would move.
Description of Activity
In this activity the children have a chance to step into the shoes of the characters in "The Sword of Wood" after the story has happened. Settle children in the chairs you have placed in a semi-circle. Tell them:
The chair set apart is the "hot seat." The person in the hot seat will pretend to be one of the characters in the story. The rest of us can ask the person in the hot seat questions. The person in the hot seat answers as character.
Be the first one in the hot seat. You may wish to tell the children that you are going to leave the room and come back as one of the characters. Leave, come back, and introduce yourself. You may say:
Hello, children. I am the shah. Do you have any questions for me?
Tell the children they may raise their hands and ask the character questions about the story. Answer a question or two, then ask if someone else would like to take a turn in the hot seat. Let this child leave the room and come back as the same or a new character. After a short while, suggest that another child take the hot seat. If the children are all eager to be in the hot seat, then limit one or two questions per turn in the hot seat.
As needed, guide the activity by sharing with the group these rules:
- There is no right or wrong answer. The point is to try to imagine what the characters might say.
- The person in the hot seat must take questions from all of the children, not just close peers.
- They must stick to the story. If they get silly or inappropriate they will have to give up the hot seat.
- Encourage the children to listen to the questions that have already been asked so that they might ask different questions.
The goal of this activity is to help the children develop a deeper understanding of the story, to explore the feelings and the perspectives of the characters in more depth, and to have a personal experience of empathy.
In the story of "The Sword of Wood," possible characters to enact in the story include Shah Abbis, the poor Jew, and the convicted criminal. If the children are having difficulty generating questions, model asking questions such as:
- Why did you keep changing the laws? (Shah Abbis)
- Do you pray? (Shah Abbis)
- What made you so interested in the Jewish man? (Shah Abbis)
- How do you stay so happy? (Jew)
- Does praying help you think of good ideas? (Jew)
- Do you think the shah should have kept changing the laws? (Jew)
- Why do you always pray? (Jew)
- Were you really guilty or innocent? (criminal)
- How did you feel when the Jewish man pulled out a wooden sword? (criminal)