The Artful Learner

This handbook invites teachers to enter the imaginative and creative world of theater arts and literacy.  Developed as part of a 4-year USDOE AEMDD Grant with 2nd and 3rd grade students and teachers, these lessons encourage students to become curious and creative learners who are able to infer, synthesize and evaluate text.

Units include: Pop-Up Puppet Theater, Theater Arts Integration Strategies, Applied Lessons, Hand Puppets, and Assessing the Theater Arts Standards, and contain strategies, applied lesson plans, and writing forms that can be used with any language arts program.

The lessons contained in the handbook have been implemented in the Jersey City Public Schools using the Scott Foresman Reading Street Series, but can be adapted for use with any curriculum textbook

Drama Activities for K-6 Students

Carmine Tabone has teamed up with Milton Polsky and Dorothy Napp Schindel to co-write a book about the important role drama plays in elementary education. The three authors became friends over 30 years ago through their involvement with the American Alliance for Theatre and Education “AATE”.


Drama Activities for K-6 Students: Creating Classroom Spirit (Rowman & Littlefield Education, August 2006) provides dramatic strategies and age-appropriate stories and poems from around the world to address such issues as sharing, caring, cooperation, consequences, and bullying in order to create a positive classroom environment. The authors believe “that a peacefully creative classroom promotes the spirit of teamwork that requires a high degree of cooperation, caring, and communication of feelings.” The book contains stories from all around the world; numerous verbal, pantomime, story theatre; and other theatrical forms for dramatizing the poems and stories. Can be purchased Here.

Bringing Literature to Life

Developed over five years through intensive award-winning tested research, the text consists of three comprehensive unit plans with over 40 useful drama-based lessons. Each lesson is presented with easy to follow step-by-step directions, including clearly defined goals and objectives; drama activity instructions; teacher talk; discussion prompts; connections with Language Arts curriculum; activity worksheets; and assessment and evaluation guides.

“As a Language Arts teacher turned secondary teacher educator for over fifteen years, I have examined literally hundreds of texts, looking for a book that would help me use drama to help students discover their own passion for learning. Bringing Literature to Life offers me the insight, imagination and tools to create my own highly engaging Language Arts lessons. This text is a must-have for anyone interested in finding rich, meaningful and practical ways to actively involve students in learning.”  — Gustave J. Weltsek Ph.D, Indiana University

The Magic Circle of Drama

From 2005 to 2007 the Educational Arts Team developed the 40 integrated-arts lesson plans which can be found in this handbook. These lessons were conducted in twenty-eight 4th and 5th grade classes in the Jersey City Public Schools as part of a research project funded by the United States Department of Education.

Independent evaluators from Seton Hall University reported significant academic, pro-cognitive and pro-social improvement for 550 participating students in contrast to lesser improvement for a control group of the same number. Some highlights from the report are as follows:

– Approximately 90% of 5th grade students who were in the Theater Infusion Project in the 4th and 5th grades passed the Language Arts section of NJASK 5, in contrast to only 71% of students who were never exposed to the project.

– 17% of 5th grade students who were part of the Theater Infusion Project as 4th graders were advanced proficient in Language Arts, only 2% of 5th graders who were not in the Theater Infusion Project when they were in the 4th grade had performance levels that fell in the advance proficient category.

– Initially, teachers were leery of the fact that the Educational Arts Team would be taking up too much classroom time. However, as the first year progressed, many teachers wondered why the Educational Arts Team was limited to only 20 lesson plans.