Saturday, April 27, 2013

Executive Function Overload

Last night we attended the Chicago Children's Theater.  They put on the Whale and the Elephant in collaboration with Redmoon Theater.  Redmoon Theater is known for it's puppets, although most of its performances are for adults.  I once saw Redmoon's Tempest at the Shakespeare theater.  It was eerie, complicated, and many other adjectives.

It's hard to find good children's theater, where the age of the audience is respected.  Chicago Children's Theater is good children's theater.   Combine this with Redmoon and it's over the top.

Theater is in the top 5 of cultivating EF skills.  A certain gifted program in Chicago takes the class to the theater many times in the first year.  For this reason, my 8 year old whispered to me that he was bored until the story picked up.  He came around.

My 4 year old sat silently for 80 straight minutes of intense amazement during this performance.  In addition to a great story and great singing, there were mechanical puppetry things coming out of suitcases, a bicycle contraption turning a big roll of paper with a story on it, and puppet silhouettes on screen.  Afterward, the staff provided a silhouette screen and craft paper.

We woke up this morning and hung a white sheet in front of a bright light.  Then made some silhouette marionettes.  Then acted out various stories with singing and dancing.   This delayed our Saturday morning math and vocab, but it's well worth it.

I forgot about the EF impact of theater.  It might be on the top of the EF list for 4, 5, and 6 year olds.  Tacking on a follow up activity (puppetry, stage building, making costumes or props) doubles the impact.

And, since my blog is devoted to passing a certain exam in a few months, I feel obligated to point out EF Skills = High scores on cognitive ability tests.

Here is our homemade version of the Elephant and the Whale.  Materials include a white sheet, a table lamp with no lampshade, hangers, string, some cardboard or craft paper, and lots of imagination.  I made a little flap so that if you pull the string, the little man's mouth opens.

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