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        Math + Arts | Jack & the Giants and the Math Challenge

        In this lesson, students create and solve a word problem related to counting money, develop a script for a short scene, and perform it using the elements of performance.

        Lesson Summary

        There are three options for this lesson, depending on class needs and time available:

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection: students watch storytellers tell a story to a group of students and discuss how the tellers used performance elements to indicate imaginary props.

        2. Short hands-on activity: students solve a math problem involving money and present their findings through a short, improvised scene.

        3. Project: students create and solve a word problem related to counting money, develop a script for a short scene, and perform it using the elements of performance, specifically acting, speaking, and nonverbal expression.

        Time Allotment

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): one class period

        2. Short hands-on activity: one class period

        3. Project: 5 class periods

        Learning Objectives


        I can create and solve word problems involving money.

        Arts and Humanities

        Frame, Focus, and Reflection: I can identify how a storyteller uses voice, body, and imagination to indicate imaginary props.

        Short hands-on activity: I can collaborate with my peers to improvise a short scenario.

        Project: I can collaborate with my peers to create and perform a new scene for an existing folktale.

        Prep for Teachers

        Elements of drama fall into three categories:

        Literary elements – script, plot structures (beginning, middle, end), and language (word choice/style used to create character, dialect)

        Technical elements – scenery (set), sound, and props

        Performance elements – acting (character), speaking (vocal expression, dialect), and nonverbal expression (facial expression, body movement)

        Traditional storytellers make minimal use of technical elements and focus on literary elements and performance elements.


        Word Wall: drama term definitions and/or drama terms in sentences



        Student handouts

        Media Resources

        Jack and the Giants from KET On Demand

        Introductory Activity

        Students should have been introduced to the dollar and cent symbols and be familiar with dollars and cents prior to this lesson. Make sure that they know where Appalachia is located and that they realize that Appalachia has a distinctive culture, including many folktales.

        Learning Activities

        Frame, Focus, and Reflection

        Tell students they are going to watch a tandem team (more than one storyteller) tell a Jack Tale. Ask how many remember the story “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Explain that Jack Tales originated in the British Isles and came to America with the early settlers. In the Appalachian Mountains,the stories blended with Native American stories, African stories, and other European stories to become Appalachian stories.

        Tell students they are going to watch a tandem team tell “Jack and the Giants.” Point out that traditional storytellers do not use technical elements of theater like props or scenery to tell their stories. Instead, they rely on using the performance elements of acting, speaking, and nonverbal expression. A storyteller uses voice, body movement, and facial expressions to help the listener “see” the scenery and props in their imaginations. Ask them to notice if the tellers use standard or nonstandard English.

        After viewing the story, discuss how the storytellers used voice, body movement, and facial expressions. Ask students to mimic the way that Jack pantomimed shooting through a pea shooter. Ask them to imitate the movement and facial expression of the giant who was hit. Then ask them to mimic Jack taking a mirror from his sack and giving it to the daddy giant. Ask them to imitate the giant looking at himself in the mirror.

        Optional: Tell students that the tellers were using Appalachian dialect to tell a traditional Appalachian story. Ask them to identify some words or phrases that were not standard English. Ask them if they noticed any elements of the story that related to the origin of the stories in the British Isles (the king, princess, and castle).

        Short Activity

        Tell students that a long time ago, gold coins were used as currency. There was not a standard currency like we have today. It would have been difficult for Jack to “count” his gold. For our activity, we are going to use standard currency.

        Divide students into groups of three and give each group a small container of plastic coins (dimes, nickels, and pennies). Tell them to pretend this is the money that the king gave Jack. Give them a word problem to solve based on their current arithmetic topics. Combine skills such as addition and subtraction to make the word problem more difficult. For example, offer the word problem: “The king gave Jack six nickels, eight dimes, and six pennies. Jack spent 75 cents on corn flakes. How much money does Jack have now?”

        Have each group improvise a short scene in which Jack counts his money, goes to the store to purchase corn flakes, and counts his money again after the purchase. Jack’s mother and any number of brothers and sisters can be in the scene along with Jack and the storekeeper(s).


        Here each group creates a sequel to the story “Jack and the Giants.” In this sequel, the giants’ cousins will threaten Jack and his friends to get even for Jack running off the giants’ cousins. Jack will suggest that they settle their differences by having a math contest with the king as the judge.

        Day One: Introduce the project and divide class into teams. Explain that students will receive two scores. One will be based on solving the problems. The second will be based on their efforts to be effective storyteller/actors.

        Pass out or project the math handout and discuss the expectations for the word problems.

        Pass out or project the Storytelling Scoring Guide. Explain that every member of the team is expected to actively participate in acting out the scene that they create. Go over the scoring guide and demonstrate what is meant by “nervous behavior” (slouching against the wall, fiddling, etc.). Explain that you will practice the use of movement and voice each day.

        Tell students their first step will be to determine the characters who will be in the scene and who will play each role. They should have one person play Jack. The teacher will play the role of king (or queen). They can have a narrator who tells the story while others act it out. (You can make this optional or a requirement. It sometimes helps to have a narrator that reads the story while the others act it out.) The other team members will be Jack’s friends and the giants. Example: Jack and two friends compete with three giants.

        Project the Character Chart and lead students through filling in information about Jack. Then give each team as many character charts as they need to develop the characters that will be in their scene. They should complete the character charts by the end of the class period and decide which student is playing each part.

        Day Two: Warm Up with The Tools of a Storyteller – Body

        Tell groups their task for the day is to develop two math challenges. Remind them of your expectations. By the end of the class period each team should have developed the problems and the solutions. Circulate in the room as students work to make sure their work encompasses the appropriate math and is accurate. Collect the problems to use in the contest between Jack and the giants.

        Day Three: Warm up with The Tools of the Storyteller – Voice Optional: Lead a discussion about dialect. If students are familiar with the Appalachian dialect (or another dialect used in your community), they can incorporate that dialect into their story. If not, they might discuss as a group what idioms they use in their everyday speech that are nonstandard English that they would like to incorporate into their stories.

        Have groups complete the script for their scenes using the lead-in and the character webs they created.

        Day Four: Practice physical movement and vocalizations using the handout. The task for the day is to rehearse their performances.

        Day Five: Groups take turns performing their scenes. The king/queen/teacher will select two problems for each competition from among the problems written by the students. The winners will be determined by the speed and accuracy of their computations. Teacher will determine if the answers should be written and/or if students are required to show their work as number sentences.

        Have students score their own and/or a peer’s performance using the Storytelling Scoring Guide.

        Optional: Lead a discussion allowing each student to say what they thought they did well and what they would do differently the next time. Allow them to express how they felt about the experience. Was it fun? Were they nervous?

        Formative Assessment

        What are the indicators of student progress toward or achievement of each learning target?

        Math Assessment Problems

        Short Activity: Teacher observation of group process for problem solving as well as accuracy of answers found.

        Project: Teacher review of problems generated and solutions offered; teacher observation of group process for problem solving as well as accuracy of answers found.

        Arts and Humanities

        Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): Teacher Observation: Students are able to physically reproduce the facial expressions and body movement used by the storytellers.

        Short hands-on activity: Teacher Observation: Did all students participate and put forth effort?

        Project: Use the Storytelling Scoring Guide (teacher or peer scoring)

        You could also give a quiz asking students to match drama terms to definitions or to use the appropriate terms in a sentence.

        Program Review

        Where does this fit in? How should you document it?

        This activity contributes to your school’s overall efforts in art programming in several areas, depending on whether you implement just the Frame, Focus, and Reflection portion or you implement the entire project. Document with lesson plan and samples of student-generated problems and scripts. If possible, record performances or take pictures of performances.

        Curriculum and Instruction: Aligned and Rigorous Curriculum

        a) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum encompasses creating, performing and responding and is fully aligned with the Kentucky Core Academic Standards?

        b) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum provides for the development of arts literacy in all four arts discipline and also utilizes the Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts?

        c) To what extent does the school ensure that the school’s curriculum provides opportunities for integration as natural cross-curricular connections are made between the arts and other content areas?

        d) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum includes the study of representative and exemplary works of dance, music, theater and visual arts from a variety of artists, cultural traditions and historical periods?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Instructional Strategies

        a) To what extent do teachers systematically incorporate all three components of arts study: creating, performing and responding into the arts?

        b) What extent do teachers provide models of exemplary artistic performances and products to enhance students’ understanding of an arts discipline and to develop their performance/production skills?

        c) To what extent do arts teachers provide for the development of artistic theory, skills, and techniques through the development of student performances or products that are relevant and developmentally appropriate for students?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Student Performance

        a) To what extent are students actively engaged in creating, performing and responding to the arts?

        b) To what extent do students identify a purpose and generate original and varied art works or performances that are highly expressive with teacher guidance?

        c) To what extent do students, with teacher guidance, routinely use creative, evaluative, analytical and problem solving skills in developing and/or reflecting in their artistic performances and products?

        d) To what extent do students use written and verbal communication to objectively reflect on exemplary exhibits and live or technologically provided performances as classroom assignments?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Assessments

        a) To what extent do teachers utilize formative and summative arts assessments for individual students and performing groups that are clearly aligned with the components of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards; and authentically measure a specific concept, understanding and/or skill and lead to student growth?

        b) To what extent do teachers guide students to use developmentally or grade level appropriate peer review and critique to evaluate each other’s work?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Expectations for Student Learning

        a) To what extent do teachers utilize exemplar/models to encourage students to demonstrate characteristics of rigorous work in the appropriate art form in most instructional lessons/units?

        b) To what extent do teachers share clearly defined rubrics or scoring guides with students before creating, performing, or responding assignments or other assessments; and students have the opportunity to provide input into the scoring guide?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Assessment for Teaching

        To what extent do students regularly reflect on, critique and evaluate the artistic products and performances of others and themselves as is grade level and age appropriate?


        Lesson Creators: Octavia Sexton, Karen Day, and Judy Sizemore


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