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Broadway in the Classroom: MATILDA THE MUSICAL

Maya, Asheville Creative Arts Preschool student, at MATILDA THE MUSICAL (Peace Center)

Maya, Asheville Creative Arts Preschool student, at MATILDA THE MUSICAL (Peace Center)

Asheville, NC– Asheville Creative Arts Preschool brought Broadway to the classroom through MATILDA THE MUSICAL. By featuring an entire unit on Roald Dahl’s beloved Matilda character, these Asheville preschool students were able to explore and learn more.

Asheville Creative Arts Preschool is part of the Read Aloud Campaign. Read Aloud is a non-profit bringing together parents and teachers to help make sure children are read aloud to for at least fifteen minutes each day. Kylee Rose Frye, Asheville Creative Arts Preschool director, read aloud Roald Dahl’s Matilda to the class. With such an enchanting story of an incredible young child, even preschoolers were able to focus on the plot of detailed chapter-book. As the story progressed, the class used lessons in the chapter book to connect to lessons in the classroom.

Early on in the book, Matilda’s character grows a deep affection for books. “The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She traveled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” Matilda’s imaginary travels opened the door for a lesson on maps and other countries. Many students past and present at the Asheville Creative Arts Preschool are from other countries and/or have family living in other countries, including (but not limited to) Chile, England, France, New Zealand, Poland, and Switzerland. Some students are even picking up English through immersion in the classroom. With such a diverse set of geographical backgrounds, Matilda provided a perfect opportunity for our students to find themselves on the map. The class read Joan Sweeney’s Me on the Map and identified their own place in the world (my school is in Asheville, Asheville is in North Carolina, USA, etc). The students also drew maps of their bedrooms with a little guidance from Azalea, a 4th grade guest student visiting Asheville Creative Arts Preschool from ArtSpace Charter School.

Asheville Creative Arts Preschool students grasp a global perspective and bring Broadway to the classroom with Roald Dahl's MATILDA.

Asheville Creative Arts Preschool students grasp a global perspective and bring Broadway to the classroom with Roald Dahl’s MATILDA.

With help from the Roald Dahl teaching website and some original lesson plans, Matilda’s adventures became the preschoolers adventures. When Matilda’s best friend Lavender spiked the head mistress’ water pitcher with a newt, the preschool studied animals and reptiles and went on outdoor scavenger hunts. When Matilda excelled at math, the preschoolers worked on their own math projects: singing songs from SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! JR, working with tag bags and 4 squares more squares, putting together tessellation shape puzzles, constructing k’nex, and more. When Matilda discovered her unusual gifts and talents, the preschoolers complemented one another on their unique abilities. When Matilda learned to move objects with her eyes, the preschoolers imagined life with super powers and created original stories during outdoor recess to explore their new magical skills. The children pretended and connected to Matilda’s character through the power of play.

Group hug! Lenora Thom with Asheville Creative Arts Preschool students.

Group hug! Lenora Thom with Asheville Creative Arts Preschool students.

There’s something magical about kids seeing kids perform as professionals and living their dreams. Students were invited to see Broadway’s MATILDA THE MUSICAL on national tour at area theaters, including the Peace Center. During music time, the children danced to songs from the musical, including Naughty and When I Grow Up. The children also listened to songs from two other Roald Dahl inspired musicals, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH and WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY JR. Next week the class will do a special Matilda-themed music-time session with Ms. Lenora. Lenora Thom is a conductor, pianist, organist, arranger and teacher who moved to Asheville from New York City. Ms. Lenora studied at Juilliard, the Hartt School of Music, Trinity College, the Cedardell Opera Institute, and the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors. Asheville Creative Arts Preschool is honored that Ms. Lenora volunteers her time to provide special music sessions with our preschool class.

After the class finished reading Matilda, the preschool held a Matilda party, including an opportunity to watch the 1996 movie.

Through Matilda, Asheville Creative Arts Preschool brought Broadway to the classroom and provided opportunities for students to ignite their imagination and grow their self-confidence. As Matilda sings in the musical, “Even if you’re little, you can do a lot! You mustn’t let a little thing like little stop you!”

Note from ACAP director: Matilda (the chapter book, musical, and movie) contains mild language, exaggerated situations, and some tremendously unkind characters. Please be mindful as you share this incredible story with the children in your life. The movie is rated PG and the book is recommended for early to mid-elementary students, though the overall story is a classic loved by children and adults of all ages.

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