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Art to Heart


The “Eco-Drama” classroom program featured in Program 7 of Art to Heart came about when Louisville’s professional theater company for young people, Stage One, partnered with a city environmental effort called Brightside. Offered free of charge to all Louisville 3rd-grade classrooms, the program uses drama-based instructional strategies as a way for students and teachers to actively explore issues such as pollution, recycling, litter, and energy awareness.

Eco-Drama is an excellent example of how drama—and the arts in general—can be used across the curriculum. “Drama is a way of learning through role playing and problem solving,” explains Stage One Artistic Director J. Daniel Herring. “The process of learning calls for self-awareness skills, concentration, and group cooperation. Its power lies in its potential to place learners in a variety of contexts—in situations that generate forms of thoughts, feelings, and language beyond those usually generated in the traditional classroom setting.”

Teacher Debby Horn at Louisville’s St. Agnes Elementary agrees. “I think the kids use drama naturally,” she says. “It’s a part of play that they’ve been doing since they were young.”

Education has long been a strong facet of Stage One. This nationally acclaimed children’s theater company gears its productions and education resources to development ages and stages, viewing drama as a way to enhance children’s intellectual, physical, and emotional well-being, Herring explains. In Kentucky, the arts and humanities are assessed in the public schools, and Stage One has done in-depth research into ways to connect its programs to the state academic content. The company offers numerous workshops, including several specifically focused on incorporating drama across the curriculum.

Check into young people’s theater opportunities in your community. In addition to performances, many organizations offer school workshops, individual workshops with hands-on activities, and online curriculum guides and resources.

Introducing Children to Live Theater

  • Make sure the performance is appropriate for your child’s age and developmental stage. Most young people’s theater companies offer age guidelines for productions. Many offer participatory or shorter performances as a way to introduce preschoolers to live theater.
  • Look for storytelling performances at your local library and festivals.
  • Prepare your child for attending the performance. Discuss audience etiquette. Preview the story together.
  • After the performance, talk with your child about what he or she noticed and liked about the performance.

Back to Program 7 »