Composing and Planning, Producing, Executing and Performing
Creativity and Innovation, Communication and Collaboration
Students will use a traditional tale, “The Frog Prince,” and Jon Scieszka’s variation of it,
The Frog Prince Continued, to create improvised scenes and then a mini-musical inspired by Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Having completed this activity, students will have a greater understanding of the creative process in the theater, as well as increased writing skill. Learning Objectives
Retell the Grimm Brothers tale, The Frog Prince.
Identify the characters and their wants in The Frog Prince.
Read The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka.
Identify the characters and their wants in The Frog Prince Continued.
Compare the stories.
Define the meaning of the words "book," “score,” “libretto,” and “lyrics” as used in creating a musical.
Create improvisations of scenes from The Frog Prince and The Frog Prince Continued.
Present their scenes to the class.
Edit and record their improvisations in script form
Add music to the completed scripts
Comprehensive Arts Education
Large or Small Group Instruction
Simulations and Games
What You'll Need
1 Computer per Small Group
Teacher should be familiar with
Into the Woods (source information listed in works cited). Prior Student Knowledge
Small Group Instruction
Resources in Reach
Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.
1. Watch the Prologue of
Into the Woods.
2. Discuss the wants of the characters:
The Narrator (who wants to tell the story);
The Baker (who wants to break the Witch's spell so he can have a child);
The Baker's Wife (who wants to help her husband so she can have a child);
Jack (who wants to keep Milky White, his cow, even though he must sell her);
Jack's Mother (who wants to convince Jack to sell Milky White);
Cinderella (who wants to go to the festival);
Stepmother (who wants to prevent Cinderella from going to the festival);
Florinda and Lucinda, Cinderella's stepsisters (who want to boss Cinderella around);
Little Red Riding Hood (who wants to get her goodies to grandmother's house); and
Witch (who wants the Baker and his Wife to find four things for her in three days).
3. Instruct students to reflect on these questions:
How did Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine use music and words to set up their story?
Were there any patterns, such as repeated words or melodies, that maintained the flow of the piece?
Were the wants of the characters clearly stated in the Prologue?
4. Discuss “The Frog Prince” and identify characters. Read or retell the story, using a book or an online version. Note that Into the Woods doesn’t include this fairy tale. List the characters on the board.
5. Identify each character’s desire or want in the tale.
The Frog Prince wants to return to human form.
The Princess wants her golden ball back and later she wants the Frog Prince to go away.
The King wants the Princess to keep her promise.
6. Discuss how each character goes about satisfying his or her want. Are the characters successful?
7. Read Jon Scieszka’s Discuss the story and identify characters. List the characters on the board and identify what the characters want in the tale, just as with the traditional story. The Frog Prince Continued.
The Frog Prince wants to turn back into a frog and later wants to go home.
The Princess wants the Frog Prince to start acting like a human, not a frog.
Sleeping Beauty’s Witch wants to cast a spell to prevent the Frog Prince from kissing Sleeping Beauty.
Snow White’s Witch wants to poison the Frog Prince to keep him from kissing Snow White.
Hansel and Gretel’s Witch wants to eat the Frog Prince.
Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother wants to help the Frog Prince.
Where do the witches and the fairy godmother belong?
How do they mess up the story?
Was any character successful in getting what he or she wanted?
8. Compare the two stories. Distribute the Venn Diagram handout. Have students get into groups of four to fill out the Venn diagram and discuss these questions:
Which characters and plot points are alike in the tales? Find five similarities.
Which are different? Find five differences.
9. Discuss student findings. Ask each group for a similarity and a difference, and record these on the board, perhaps on an enlarged Venn diagram.
1. Divide the class into four groups and explain how to play the improv game "Dire Consequences." In this game, one person goes about his or her daily business. In the meantime, other players are continually in dire situations. The players in dire situations strongly pursue what they want. The regular people in each scene should also select a motivation or desire that drives their action in the scene. Their desires are as strong as those of the players in the dire situations, but they are more ordinary, everyday motivations. For example, a player in a dire situation might be trying to escape from a burning building, while a "regular person" might simply want to get home in time to watch a favorite television show.
2. Assign each group one of these four options:
Group A: Basing its improv on The Frog Prince, some members of the group use the Frog Prince, the Princess, and the King to play out their wants (identified in Step 1) as "dire situations," while the "regular person or people" play out typical activities of a student’s daily life.
Group B: This group bases its improv on The Frog Prince Continued from the beginning story until The Frog Prince meets Sleeping Beauty’s Witch. Students should use the Frog Prince, the Princess, and Sleeping Beauty’s Witch to play out their wants as "dire situations,” while the "regular person or people" play out typical activities of a student’s daily life.
Group C: This group bases its improv on The Frog Prince Continued from when The Frog Prince meets Sleeping Beauty’s Witch until he meets Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Use the Frog Prince, Sleeping Beauty’s Witch, Snow White’s Witch, Hansel and Gretel’s Witch, and Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother to play out their wants as "dire situations,” while the "regular person or people" play out typical activities of a student’s daily life.
Group D: Basing its improv on The Frog Prince Continued from when The Frog Prince meets Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother to the end of the story, this group uses the Frog Prince, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, and the Princess to play out their wants as "dire situations,” while the "regular person or people" play out typical activities of a student’s daily life.
3. Assign one person per group to serve as "director." This person will make sure all members are working and keeping on track. Give groups ten minutes to play the game. Check each group to make sure each person (even the director) has a part. Make sure each character and person knows his/her want.
4. Have groups present their scenes to the class.
5. Cut up the Sentence Strips handout and distribute the strips to nine students. The handout is located within the Resource Carousel. Have students decide which character would say each of the lines and figure out what order the lines would come in.
6. Have students line up in the correct order and read the lines.
Cinderella: "I want to go to the ball."
The stepmother: "Not you, you are too dirty to go to the ball."
The Fairy Godmother: "You shall go! POOF!"
Cinderella: "I’m beautiful! Thanks!"
The Prince: "You’re beautiful. Don’t go!"
Cinderella: "I must leave by midnight."
The Prince: "Here. Try this on."
Cinderella: "It fits! I will marry you."
7. Ask students to identify the story. Explain that students will now return to their small groups and write the scenes they were using for their improv, in nine lines.
8. Have the students decide as a group which nine lines in their story convey the wants of the characters and move the scene along. This time there is no regular person in the scene. Only the wants of the fairy tale or fractured fairy tale characters are driving the scene.
9. Once the lines have been chosen, students write them on sentence strips. Have students write their nine-line scene in a script form. All group members should copy the group’s scene. Give students ten to fifteen minutes to stage their scene. Only the nine lines that they selected may be used in the scene.
10. Have the students present the nine-line scenes to the class.
1. Have students return to their original four groups to play musical improvisation games. Have them use their nine-line scripts as starting points, but the lines may now be repeated and expanded. Remind the group to make a written record (script) of their work.
2. Give each group a musical improv to use in creating their musical scene:
Group A: Basing its improv on The Frog Prince, this group plays "The Narrated Game." The characters in this scene are a Narrator, the Frog Prince, the Princess, and the King. During the improvisation, the Frog, Princess, and King sing their parts, using the nine-line script. The Narrator speaks and fills in the missing pieces. This is very similar to the format of the Prologue in Into the Woods.
Group B: Basing its improv on The Frog Prince Continued—from the beginning of the story up to the point when the Frog Prince meets Sleeping Beauty's Witch—this group plays an improv game called "Musical Hot Spot." The characters in the play are the Frog Prince, the Princess, Sleeping Beauty's Witch, and a Musician (with an instrument). The players use the nine-line script, but any time the musician starts playing, the players must stop speaking normally and break into song. When the musician stops, the players must return to speaking normally. The actors should get as much of their nine-line script in song as they can. (The concept is similar to Musical Chairs.)
Group C: This group bases its improv on The Frog Prince Continued, from the point when the Frog Prince meets Sleeping Beauty's Witch until he meets Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. This group plays an improv game called "Inner Mono Song." The characters are the Frog Prince, Sleeping Beauty's Witch, Snow White's Witch, Hansel and Gretel's Witch, and Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. The improv begins with spoken dialogue. At any given point, one of the character sings his/her thoughts. The other characters on stage cannot hear the song. When the character is finished, he/she steps back into the scene and continues with dialogue. These songs can be pieces of the nine-line script. The characters can address the audience during their songs.
Group D: This group bases its improv o n The Frog Prince Continued, from the point when The Frog Prince meets Cinderella's Fairy Godmother to the end of the story. The characters in this excercise are the Frog Prince, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, the Princess, and a Narrator. The characters line up. The Narrator points to a character, and the character sings his/her line in the nine-line script. The characters can be cut off midline, but they must know where they are in the sequence of their tale. (The Narrator functions a bit like a conductor pointing to soloists in an orchestra.) Eventually, the story should be told smoothly.
3. Give the students fifteen minutes to play around with this activity. Assign one person per group to serve as "director." This person makes sure all members are working and keeping on track. Check each group to make sure each person (even the director) has a part. Make sure each character and person knows his/her motivation (that is, what he or she wants).
4. Groups present their scenes to the class. Make audio and/or video recordings of the presentations. Students should note what they like and don't like about these pieces.
5. Review the recordings of the scenes. Break the class back into groups to discuss what they liked and disliked about their scenes. What adjustments should be made to these tunes and words to make a complete telling of two tales, The Frog Prince and The Frog Prince Continued? Remind students to be diplomatic and to respect each other's work. They all took risks to produce their scenes.
6. Give students half an hour to make adjustments to their scenes.
7. Have students present the new scenes to the class, write the scenes out in script form, and record them as videos or sound files.
1. Have students write in their journals about the challenges they faced while creating this mini-musical. Was it challenging to work with the group? The material? What seemed interesting? Fun? Confusing?
2.Collect the Venn diagrams, sentence strips, scripts, recordings, and journal entries.
The National Standards For Arts Education:
Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 1
Script writing by the creation of improvisations and scripted scenes based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history
Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 2
Acting by developing basic acting skills to portray characters who interact in improvised and scripted scenes
Grade 5-8 Music Standard 3
Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments
Language Arts Standard 1
Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
Language Arts Standard 2
Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing
Common Core/State Standards
Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.