Lewis Carroll meets William Shakespeare? Well, it could happen here at The Philadelphia School!
While our preschoolers are steeped in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, our 8th graders are nearing full-production mode for their Shakespeare Festival in the Garage, where they will present Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew.
Classics meet progressive, project-based education? Well, certainly!
The preschool's Alice study is an interdisciplinary, hands-on exploration of Alice's journey into a fantasy realm populated by talking playing cards and anthropomorphic creatures. Each of the classrooms is being turned into some aspect of Wonderland. As described by the preschool teachers in their weekly note to families, "The children followed Alice down the rabbit hole, and just to be sure they knew whom they were following, a white rabbit visited the classroom. He eagerly explored the pathways and tunnels the children made out of blocks. After learning that the fluffy white rabbit with pink eyes and pink ears carried a pocket watch, the preschoolers made their own pocket watches out of cardboard, pipe cleaners, markers, and glue. They carried their watches throughout the day, announcing they were late for a very important date!"
Many more adventures will ensue in the next few weeks, with our youngest learners bringing this fantastic story alive. Says preschooler Alden Ravitz, "The Alice study is terrific!"
Eighth graders are not in Wonderland but have been transported by William Shakespeare to Padua and the coast of Illyria as they prepare for the Shakespeare Festival. At TPS it is important that students not only read Shakespeare but perform Shakespeare, as the bard intended. After students read The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night, the plays were cast, and rehearsals began in earnest. Lyla Forman explains, "This has been a hands-on experience – we aren't just reading the play; we are living it." Josh Zeelander appreciates "this exposure to the theatrical world – we are learning to embody the character, to understand why we're doing what we are doing on stage." In music and art classes our thespians have worked on dances, sets, and props, and lighting and sound will be managed by students.
Be they preschoolers or 8th graders, our students no doubt will remember these classic literary works long into the future. But, perhaps more importantly, the rich way that they encountered these works will inform how they approach and respond to literature throughout their lives.