Resource Guide - Elephant & Piggie's "We Are in a Play!"

Before the Show

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+ About the Show
Celebrated author Mo Willems' beloved characters come to life in a jazzy musical based on the award-winning, best-selling children’s books. After fumbling and breaking their new toy, bestus friends Gerald and Piggie realize they are in a play and use their powers of persuasion to move the audience. The vaudevillian-style show will have families saying “banana”, “flippy floppy floory”, and clapping along.
Themes: Friendship, sharing

+ The BIG Questions Before the Show
  1. What does it mean to be a best friend? Who is your best friend?
  2. What are fun things to do with your friends?
  CSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.(K-5).2: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media. NCESHealthEd.4.ICR.1.1: Explain the importance of showing respect for self and respect and empathy for others.

+ Vocabulary Enrichment
Pick three words from the list and use them in an original sentence or paragraph. You can also draw a picture, illustrating the definitions.
  • Disagreement - a difference in opinion
  • Quarrel - an argument
  • Tragic - very sad
  • Predicament - a difficult situation
  • Unintended - not planned
  • Consequences - outcome, result
  • Pachyderm - an animal with thick skin and hooves like an elephant or rhino
  • Swine - pig
  • Expert - someone who knows a lot about something
  • Ridiculous - silly, foolish
  • Complimentary - giving praise
  • Maestro - highly respected teacher, composer, or conductor of music
  • Elephantine - like an elephant
  • Delirious - wildly excited
  • Culmination - finale
  • Destroy- to ruin completely
  • Gadget - tool or device
  • Trinket - a small object
  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.(K-5).4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases.

+ Activities

Even Elephants Can Dance
As a class, create a list of animals.  You can organize them into animals who walk on four legs, two legs, fly, etc.  Or you can create your own categories! Get the students on their feet and dancing to your favorite dance party playlist while they move their bodies like the animals from the list. For added flair, pass out scarves and have the students use the scarves to turn themselves into the animal (ex: scarf as an elephant’s trunk).
Pass the Smile
Have your students come up with different emotions and practice what those emotions look like on your face.  Then have the students sit in a circle. The teacher will start by smiling at the student to their right and in turn that student will turn and smile to the person sitting to their right. The smile will pass through the whole circle until it makes it back to the teacher. Move on to another emotion and another ultimately ending with another smile pass.
  NCES-Dance.(K-5).CP.1:: Use choreographic principles, structures, and processes to create dances that communicate ideas, experiences, feelings, and images. NCES-Dance.K.CP.1.2: Execute spontaneous movement during improvisational explorations. NCES-Health.(K-2).ICR.1: Understand healthy and effective interpersonal communication and relationships.

+ Meet Author Mo Willems
Mo Willems - photo by Trix WillemsMo Willems is an author, illustrator, playwright, and animator.  He began his writing career on PBS’ Sesame Street and has continued to write for television and children’s books. Some of his more well known works are Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and of course his celebrated Elephant and Piggie series. You can read more about Mo Willems on his website.

After the Show

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+ The BIG Questions After the Show
  1. Piggie becomes the Ice Cream Hero when she shares her ice cream with Gerald.  When have you been a hero and shared something?
  2. Gerald breaks Piggie’s toy while playing with it.  How did that make Piggie feel? How do you think it made Gerald feel? What would you have done if you were Gerald?
  3. Piggie and Gerald sing about how life is better with each other around.  Who makes you feel like life is better when they are around? 
  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.(K-5).2: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media. NCES-TheaArts.2.TA.A.1.2: Analyze the relationships between events, characters, and settings. NCES-TheaArts.4.TA.A.1.2: Critique choices made about characters, settings, and events as seen, or portrayed in, formal and informal productions.

+ Activities

Swimmy Fancy Costume Dancy!
Have your students design their own fancy pool party costume using the worksheet. Costume Worksheet
Animal Yoga
Just like Piggie and Gerald, take some deep breaths and calm yourself (or your students) down with some animal yoga. Sample poses can be found here.
  NCES-VisArts.(K-5).V.3: Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately.  NCES-Health.(K-2).MEH.1: Remember the association of healthy expression of emotions, mental health, and healthy behavior. 

+ Talk About Theatre Jobs
Every play Children’s Theatre of Charlotte produces is created by a talented team of designers, technicians, actors, and a director. As a class, discuss what you experienced when you saw the performance.
  1. Name three things you noticed about the scenery. Did the scenery help tell the story? What sort of scenery would you design?
  2. What did you like about the costumes? Did the costumes help tell the story? What sort of costumes would you design?
  3. What role did lighting play in telling the story? How did the lights enhance what you were seeing?
  4. Talk about the actors. Were there moments you were so caught up in the story you forgot you were watching a play?
  5. Were there any actors who played more than one character? What are some ways you can show you are a different character?
  NCES-TheaArts.(K-3).TA.A.1: Analyze literary texts and performances. NCES-TheaArts.(K-3).TA.AE.1.2: Understand how costumes [and technical elements] enhance dramatic play.

+ Recommended Reading
If you enjoyed the show, travel to ImaginOn or your local Charlotte Mecklenburg Library branch and check out these books. Check availability at
Elephant & Piggie
Based on the Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems | Published by Hyperion Books for Children | Script and Lyrics by Mo Willems | Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma | Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.