I specifically planned it that way because our Great Artist for November is Degas but this week we actually took some time to finish up Audubon. For our first class play, therefore, I was inspired by him and chose "The Magpie's Nest." This short play for 2nd grade can be found in 25 Plays Inspired by Waldorf Teachers, edited by David Mitchell. We have a class of 14 which means Narrator, Madge, and 2 each of the remaining birds. After casting, the students used our Audubon resources (including The Living World of Audubon-- this resource is wonderful because it pairs full page reproductions of Audubon's full color engravings with subsequent pages of color photography of the same birds, allowing you to see them more closely) and the nonfiction section of the library to research the coloration of their birds. The play ends with only two lines at the top of page 4 so we used that blank space for the sketches. I met with them the next day so they could request the necessary colors of wool roving. The birds turned out beautifully!
I had the students form the needle felted birds without beaks or feet, to keep it simple. After making the bodies, we used dark brown yarn to make hanging loops large enough for the students to hang the birds around their wrists and perch them on the backs of their hands. The loop was strung through the center point of the bird, through the tummy and out the back and then back through the tummy, so it would hang well and be balanced. Then we tied a little knot under the tummy to stabilize the yarn and the ends of the knot became the bird's feet!!!
The Narrator decided to be a little grey haired forest gnome with a red cap. He was living in the tree where all this action took place, in a little nook down in the bottom. He felted his little character quite happily. To stage the play, the little gnome and child sat down in the center and all the bird children stood in a circle around him. Then each child and bird turned to face outward, concealing the gnome in the center. The children put their birds on their wrists and posed so that their feet stuck out as the tree roots and their arms were jutted out to be the various limbs. As the play progressed, more and more birds left until it was only Madge and the two silly Turtledoves. We presented it to the neighboring class and the play was a great success. I can't wait to do another one!