All Thomas Paine students participate in Fine Arts classes, rotating between Visual Art, Dance & Drama, and Music. For general information about Fine Arts in the Urbana School District, please see their Elementary Fine Arts website. Below you can find information specific to the Fine Arts classes at Thomas Paine.
Instructors: Martha Churukian and Sarah Tavis
More information coming.
Dance & Drama
Director: Angela Wyatt
Urbana School District is one of only a handful of districts in the state that teaches dance and drama at the elementary level. Our students have the privilege of being exposed to movement, choreography, playwriting, acting basics, and performance starting in Kindergarten. Dance and drama teaches students self-confidence, self-control, and self-expression and spills over into many other disciplines including reading, writing, literature, history, and social studies. The skills learned in dance and drama lay the foundation for public speaking, giving presentations, working in groups, and further study in theatre and dance. Mrs. Wyatt encourages students to discover themselves and their talents in her classroom, developing and expressing their individual talents.
As a part of Urbana School Districts Art Infused Education initiative, Mrs. Wyatt often collaborates with classroom teachers to integrate dance and drama into other subject areas. Teachers, students, and Mrs. Wyatt work together to create a project that enhances a topic the students are learning in their classroom. In the past, third grade students learning about ancient civilizations have acted out Egyptian hieroglyphics. Students in fourth grade learning American History have learned the Virginia Reel. The opportunities to improve learning through art are endless!
Dance & Drama at the Different Grade Levels
Kindergarten: since most Kindergartners at Thomas Paine have not previously been exposed to dance and drama instruction, the Kindergarten level class is an introduction to dance and drama. Students participate in activities, games, and lessons that help dance and drama become “normal” to them. Students learn self-confidence, how to follow directions, safety while moving, and to have fun within the realm of self-control. This class focuses on free movement, folk dances, and basic acting skills. Students act out a fairy tale with props and costumes.
1st Grade: building on the skills learned in Kindergarten, first graders are given the opportunity to share ideas and develop their own creative movement. In addition they are introduced to tap dancing and improvisation.
2nd Grade: in second grade, students start to read plays and discuss story elements. Students watch DVD’s of the stories and plays they read and then compare and contrast story elements and character development. These skills tie into reading and literature standards. After studying folk dance, second graders start to choreograph dance movements such as a circle dance.
3rd Grade: the third grade class morphs more into self-expression, where students listen to music and create appropriate choreography for the music. This activity exposes students to different genres of music and encourages creativity. Students read a lot of plays, studying story elements, developing characters using acting tools (mind, body, voice), and examining how character traits apply to the characters. The third grade class is a reader theatre type experience along with improvisation games and activities.
4th Grade: fourth graders study their favorite commercials, discuss aspects of these commercials, and then write their own. Students work in groups to write and perform their commercial, which is filmed. In dance, students work in groups again to create all student-driven choreography. A lot of emphasis is put on learning to work in groups, a skill needed throughout their schooling.
5th Grade: fifth graders write simple, one-act fairy tales based on a design formula and perform them, putting everything they have learned in Kindergarten through fourth grade into action. Students are the playwrights, costume designers, stage hands, directors, and actors. These plays are performed at the end of the year during the school day (reading buddies and parents are invited to watch). In dance, students work more on choreography and are introduced to dance history as far back as possible on film so they can see how “current dance moves” have origins in past dance movements.
Dance & Drama Performances
Veteran’s Day: Urbana School District has elected to have school on Veteran’s Day the past couple of years so that students can get a better understanding of the holiday. The goal is to teach students about veterans and give them an opportunity to thank veterans through a performance at the Veteran’s Day assembly. Veterans are invited to watch and be honored. Thomas Paine has had upwards of 50 veterans attend each year. All grade levels learn the same patriotic song such as Grand Old Flag, America, or the Star Spangled Banner, which they sing at the Veteran’s Day assembly. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from the student body are used to flesh out the program with patriotic poems and readings.
Drama Club: fifth graders are invited to take part in an optional Drama Club, which meets after school from November-December in preparation for the holiday program. Given a basic story starter and series of songs, students write a play for the holiday program. Drama Club may expand past the holiday program in the future. Stay tuned!
Holiday Program: every year the holiday program is an original, student-driven musical. The Thomas Paine population includes many different cultures and traditions and students discuss world religions as a part of the holiday program preparation. Kindergarten and first grade students perform a song together without movement. Each second through fifth grade class has their own song and choreography. While Mrs. Wyatt chooses the songs, the students develop some of the choreography and movements that are integrated into the piece. In addition to the grade level performances, the Drama Club performs their holiday play. Parents are invited to attend.
Holiday Program for Volunteers: in addition to the main holiday program for parents, the students perform the entire holiday program again at a special performance for Thomas Paine mentors, community sponsors, and volunteers as a way to give back to those that give so much to our school.
Talent Show: in the spring students have the opportunity to perform in the Thomas Paine talent show, which is sponsored by the PTA. With parent permission, students elect to participate, creating their own act. Students must audition, but all students are accepted. Mrs. Wyatt works with students to make sure the talent show program is balanced and appropriate. The talent show is held in the evening so more parents can attend.
Kindergarten – Fourth Grade
Instructor: Meagan Tipton
Fifth Grade Music
In fifth grade, students can choose to participate in band or orchestra. Music classes meet twice a week for 30 minutes. Students need to provide their own instrument and purchase a music book. Reduced and waived fees are available through the EBU scholarship program on a first come, first serve basis. Please contact the music teachers directly for more information about scholarships.
Director: Stacey Peterik
Band is separated into a woodwind class and a percussion/brass class. Students may choose from the following woodwinds: flute, clarinet, or saxophone. In the percussion/brass class students may choose: trumpet, trombone, or percussion. Students interested in more challenging instruments can switch at the middle school level after learning the basics on one of the above instruments.
Classes involve a lot of playing as well as learning how to read notes and count rhythms though counting, clapping, and saying note names prior to playing. There are weekly written and playing tests so that the students get used to playing in front of each other and the director can monitor understanding and know when the class can move forward from a concept. These tests continue at the middle and high schools, so they are great preparation for band at those levels.
Band has four concerts per year: one in-school concert and three out of school concerts in the UMS gymnasium. For more information about fifth grade band, please see Stacey’s website:urbana5thgradeband.weebly.com
Students can also begin playing an instrument in middle school by signing up for beginning band (or orchestra) classes, which are offered for sixth and seventh graders. Additionally, students can participate in Jazz Band, which is a great way to check out new kinds of music.
In Strings class, students may choose from the following instruments: violin, viola, cello and bass. Classes involve a lot of playing as well as learning how to read notes and count rhythms though counting, clapping, and saying note names prior to playing. There may be written and playing tests so that the students get used to playing in front of each other and the director can monitor understanding and know when the class can move forward from a concept. These tests continue at the middle and high schools, so they are great preparation for orchestra at those levels. Strings has four concerts per year: one in-school concert and three out of school concerts in the UMS gymnasium.