More with Tableau's in the Classroom

If you read yesterday's post, you know that I have been attending an arts integration professional development all week this week. For three days, we get immersed in each of the five art forms (Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Art, and Creative Writing). Today, I attended the Theater and Visual Arts immersion classes and they were wonderful!

As I said yesterday, my paired teaching artist will be a Theater artist so I thought I would share a couple of activities we learned today to foster learning in different content areas through tableau's. For more information on tableau's, visit my post here. To make it short and sweet, a tableau is a just a frozen picture you make with your body.

One activity we did was focused on reinforcing Social Studies. Specifically, Native Americans and conflicts between them and early explorers. The instructor asked us to brainstorm reasons why the conflicts occurred. We named land, resources, riches, protection, etc. After we discussed these reasons why conflicts started, we were asked to work with a group of five to create three tableau's. A before, a during, and an after tableau with four members making a tableau with their bodies and one student being the narrator, explaining what is going on in the tableau. It's important that each member makes a different tableau with their body, but that all of the tableau's work together showing a coherent picture in each group.

After we completed this tableau activity, we brainstormed a list of emotions that Native Americans may have felt as they watched the explorer's ships arrive on the shore and come on land. We also brainstormed a list of emotions that the explorers felt upon seeing the Native Americans for the first time. This leads me to the next activity, called Museum.

With our list of brainstormed emotions, we were asked to find a partner. One partner would be the potter and the other the clay. We were asked to first mold our partner into statue that represents one of the brainstormed feelings that the Native Americans might have had upon seeing the explorers. After each partner was in the tableau, we were able to walk around and view all of the statues in the museum. Then, we switched and our frozen partner molded us into statues that represented how the explorers might have felt when they first met the Native Americans.

It was really neat to see all of the different interpretations and examples of emotion. I really felt like I was feeling what they were trying to show. I think it's really important for this activity to remind your students of how important it is to remain focused and still. STATUES DON'T MOVE!

One thing you could do to practice this skill is to get your class in a circle and do a Focal Point and Distraction Exercise. Ask the students to find a focal point in the classroom and keep their eyes on that one spot. Choose a student (the class clown is always a wise choice) to go around the circle and try to distract each student in the circle by making them laugh or break their focus point.

I am so excited about being paired with my teaching artist to get started planning our integrated theater unit! I still have to decide what content area I want to integrate with the theater/drama piece.

Anyway, I hope these activities can be used in your classroom. Tableau's are really wonderful for children of all ages because sometimes children can express their thoughts and learning better when they're using their bodies instead of their words. I will share more later this week!


  1. Here in Oklahoma we have a four day Fall Arts Institute and all public school teachers get a scholarship. I have attended the last two years and took classes in art integration. I love it! I plan to attend again this fall.

  2. I am beginning a new program this year called IDEA where we partner with artists from the Washington Center in DC. I am so excited! It's a three year program and I can earn credit hours!

  3. I love the idea of a tableau! What a creative concept! I'm trying to think now about how I can incorporate that into my language arts curriculum :) Thanks for sharing!

  4. It works really well with poetry and guided reading. If you are reading a story, you can have the class make a tableau to represent a word in the story or even to make predictions! I love this arts tool because you can use it in so many different ways.

  5. Oh, this is cool! I will have try this with my creative writing kiddos this year.

  6. Ginger,
    I was in the Arts Integration Worskhop for first year participants this week as well. I just stumbled on your blog this evening while I was reading another education related blog. I've enjoyed your posts. Keep them coming!


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