Resource Guide - Schoolhouse Rock Live!

Before the Show

Click on a topic to expand/hide content:
+ About the Show
The alarm clock rings and Tom awakens, nervous to start his first day of teaching. He turns on the TV to relax and is surprised when the voices he hears in his head come to life as characters in the television set! Tom is hesitant at first to accept them, but eventually they help him see how great a teacher he has been all along.
Themes: Friendship, Identity, Inclusion

+ The BIG Questions Before the Show
  1. In the play, Tom is a teacher about to start his first day. He is nervous and worried that he is not prepared. Have you ever felt nervous or worried about something? How did you deal with it?
  2. What are your favorite subjects in school? Why do you like that particular subject?
  3. If you could travel to any planet in the solar system, where would you go and why?
  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. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.7: Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

+ 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.
  • nervous adj. anxious or apprehensive; “on edge”
  • satisfaction n. fulfillment of one's wishes or needs, or the pleasure derived from this
  • demanding adj. (of a person) making others work hard or meeting high standards
  • suffrage n. the right to vote in political elections
  • hasty adj. done or acting with excessive speed or urgency
  • gregarious adj. (of a person) fond of company; sociable
  • grammar n. the whole system and structure of a language or of languages in general
  • circulation n. movement around something, especially that of fluid in a closed system, like the way blood travels through the body under the action of the heart
  • nutrition n. food or nourishment
  • corpuscle n. a medical term for a living cell, especially red or white blood cells
  • drake n. a male duck
  • galaxy n. a system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction
  • propose v. make an offer of marriage to someone
  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.(K-5).4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases.

+ Activities

Verb: That’s What’s Happenin’
Encourage students to cut pictures from magazines that show action verbs. Have the students attach their picture to a piece of construction paper. Then the students will work in small groups. They can pass around the pictures and write words to describe what is happening. Each student should add one word to the picture without repeating.
For example, a picture of a baseball player might inspire the words “throw”, “pass”, “toss”, “pitch”, “hit”, or “swing.”
   CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.1.A: Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences. NCES-VisualArts.(K-5).VA.V.3: Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately.

Dwarf Planets and Mnemonics
In the song "Interplanet Janet," they sing about our solar system’s nine planets. But don't forget that we now only have eight planets, due to Pluto's demotion to a dwarf planet in August, 2006.  An object must meet three criteria to be classified as a planet:
  1. It must orbit the sun.
  2. It must be large enough with sufficient mass for gravity to squash it into a spherical shape.
  3. It must have an orbit free of other small objects.
A planet needs to be large enough to attract nearby objects or fling them into space to clear its orbit. Pluto does not meet this third requirement. Since 2006, we have also classified Eris, Ceres, Haumea, and Makemake as dwarf planets.
To remember the planets in our solar system in order from the sun, you can use a mnemonic device. Mnemonics are memory techniques that help learners recall larger pieces of information, especially in the form of lists. For example, “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos” turns into: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
Can you create a different mnemonic to remember the order of the planets? Or, can you create a mnemonic to remember a different list, like the colors of the rainbow or the North American Great Lakes? Click here to learn more about popular mnemonics.
  NCES-Science.3.E.1.1: Recognize that the earth is part of a system called the solar system that includes the sun (a star), planets, and many moons and the earth is the third planet from the sun in our solar system. NCES-Guidance.EEE.C.1.2: Use creative strategies to achieve academic, personal, social, and professional goals.

The Human Heart
Click the button to see a printable worksheet for your classroom or family.
Human Heart
Multiply by Three
Click the button to see a printable worksheet for your classroom or family provided by
Multiply x 3

+ The History of Schoolhouse Rock!

Scene from original TV series Schoolhouse Rock! aired on ABC's Saturday morning children's block. It featured animated musical educational short films. The original run lasted from 1973-1984, and was later revived from 1993-1996. They produced more episodes in 2009 for direct-to-video release.
David McCall, an advertising executive at McCaffrey and McCall, came up with the series. He noticed that his young son had trouble learning multiplication tables but could remember Rolling Stones lyrics. McCall hired musician Bob Dorough to write a song that would teach multiplication, which became "Three Is a Magic Number." Tom Yohe, an illustrator at McCaffrey and McCall, heard the song and created visuals to accompany it. ABC eventually picked it up with George Newall joining as a producer.
The show included grammar, science, economics, history, math, and civics lessons--all set to music. Isaac Hayes, Joan Osborne, and the Roots are famous artists who still cover those songs. They continue to make the songs popular for new generations. The Library of Congress added Schoolhouse Rock!: The Box Set (1996) to the National Recording Registry on March 20, 2019. It is recognized as an important cultural work.

After the Show

Click on a topic to expand/hide content:
+ The BIG Questions After the Show
  1. By the end of the show, the teacher feels confident enough to go into the classroom. What helped him to build his confidence? What are things you can do to help yourself or others feel more confident?
  2. While there are many different, varied learning styles, there are four predominant styles: auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and read/write. Live theatre frequently uses the first three when telling stories. What type of learner are you?
  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. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1.D: Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion. NCES-Guidance.EEE.C.1.2: Use creative strategies to achieve academic, personal, social, and professional goals.

+ Activities

School of Rock
Get ready to rock out like the actors in the show! Students will create a short song about any academic subject they like.
  1. Invite students to think about a subject area they would like to write a song about. It could be a favorite subject, or even a subject they are struggling with. Make sure it's specific like spelling, history, or math concepts.
  2. In their song, they should include more than one verse and a chorus that repeats. The lyrics do not have to rhyme, but it should be something catchy and easy to remember. You may even set the lyrics to a current, popular song.
  3. Before starting to write, give students enough time and resources to do their research about the subject. This project may take a few days with writing and rewriting.
  4. Finally, have them sing or teach their song to the class!
Are your song lyrics like the ones in the show? What challenges do you think the writers of the original Schoolhouse Rock had back in the 1970s? What was the most challenging about this activity? The writing or the singing?
  NCES-TheatreArts.(K-5).TA.AC.2: Use performance to communicate ideas and feelings. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.5: With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. NCES-Music.(K-5).MU.ML.1: Apply the elements of music and musical techniques in order to sing and play music with accuracy and expression.

Journey of a Bill
Congress is the lawmaking branch of the federal government. Here are the steps of how a bill becomes a law:
  1. A bill to create a new law can be introduced in either chamber of Congress by a senator or representative who sponsors it.
  2. Once a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee whose members will research, discuss, and make changes to the bill.
  3. The bill is then put before that chamber to be voted on.
  4. If the bill passes one body of Congress, it goes to the other body to go through a similar process of research, discussion, changes, and voting.
  5. Once both bodies vote to accept a bill, they must work out any differences between the two versions. Then both chambers vote on the same version of the bill. If it passes, they present it to the president.
  6. The president then considers the bill. The president can approve the bill and sign it into law. Or the president can refuse to approve a bill. This is called a veto.
Tell your students they will write a bill to make it a classroom law for a day. Students should form small groups called "Committees" to come up with ideas for their classroom. Maybe they want a day with no homework, or for everyone to wear pajamas on a Friday?
Each group writes a bill and presents it to another group as the "House of Representatives." Allow those students to debate the bill and then vote. If the majority of the students in that combined group votes in favor of the bill, it will then move to the “Senate.” The whole class will serve as the "Senate" and vote before moving the bill forward. Again, allow the class time to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed bill before voting.
If the majority of the class agrees to pass the bill, it will come to you, the teacher, as the "President." You will get to review the bill and either veto it or sign it into law for a day of your choosing.
During the process, encourage each group to think about the bill they are writing. Is their idea something that benefits the class in a positive way? Does their idea need a lot of extra resources? When students vote no on a bill, they should think about how to make their ideas more appealing for classmates and teachers.
  NCES-SocialStudies.2.C&G.1.2: Explain how governments establish order, provide security and create laws to manage conflict. NCES-SocialStudies.5.C&G.1.2: Summarize the organizational structures and powers of the United States government (legislative, judicial and executive branches of government). CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.5: With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

In this manner
To show how adverbs modify verbs, try out this activity. Have one student volunteer to be the actor. Then have the rest of the class pick a verb or activity, like dribbling a basketball or playing air guitar. The actor will silently perform the activity for the class. But first, they will pick an adverb from a prewritten pile of suggestions. The teacher can write these ahead of time, or can brainstorm them with the class.
Once the actor has finished performing the activity, the rest of the class takes turns guessing the adverb used to perform the action. Encourage students to think about the intensity, speed, or manner in which the action was carried out. For instance, if the actor is dribbling a basketball, adverbs like "slowly," "gracefully," or "carelessly" may be used to inform the action.
This activity helps students understand adverbs and practice observation and descriptive skills. The verbs and adverbs don't have to "match." It may be funnier if they don't! For example, playing air guitar gracefully.
  NCES-TheatreArts.(K-5).TA.AC.2: Use performance to communicate ideas and feelings. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.1.A: Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences.

In Your Own Words - The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
Click the button to see a printable worksheet for your classroom or family.

+ Getting the Vote, the 19th Amendment

SuffragettesIn 1776, the Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” But when the Constitution was ratified, in 1788, it gave the right to vote to white men only.
In 1848, the first convention for women’s rights was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Sixty-eight women and 32 men signed a document: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal.” It demanded voting rights for women.
Members of the suffragist movement did not always agree. In 1865, the Civil War ended. It put a stop to slavery in the U.S. Suffragists began to argue about the 15th Amendment, which was ratified in 1870. It gave Black men the right to vote. Some suffragists did not support the amendment because it didn’t include women. Others argued that it could help suffragists reach their goal.
As a result, two organizations were formed. One worked for suffrage by pressing for changes to the Constitution. The other worked to change laws in individual states. In 1890, the two groups joined forces to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
In 1878, the 19th Amendment was introduced in Congress. It called for women’s suffrage. But the House of Representatives and the Senate did not pass the amendment until 1919. It then went to the states for ratification. On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was finally signed into law. Read more about its history at

+ 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.
  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-5).TA.A.1: Analyze literary texts and performances. NCES-TheaArts.(K-5).TA.AE.1.2: Understand how costumes [and technical elements] enhance dramatic play.

+ External Links
  • Learn more about strategies to improve engagement for students of each learning style at
  • Multiplication Mine Jr. is a fun online game to practice multiplication skills! Play the game at ABCya, the leader in educational games for kids.
  • Gravity is the force of attraction between two objects. Learn more about it in this PBS Science Trek video.
  • The preamble to the Constitution is an introduction to the full document. Learn more about it in this FindLaw article.

+ 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
Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Originally Adapted and Produced for the Stage by Theatre BAM | From the Series Created by George Newall and Tom Yohe | Based on an Idea by David McCall | Book by Scott Ferguson, George Keating and Kyle Hall | Music and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Kathy Mandry, George Newall and Tom Yohe | Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.