Giving to Get the Beat

6, 7, 8

Students read and discuss the folktale "The Drum," a folktale from India. Students determine the central message of selfless giving (giving without expectation of reward) and write and produce a play that communicates that message clearly. They perform it for an appropriate audience.

PrintSix 45-Minute Class Periods, Plus Time to Perform the Play

The learner will:

  • listen and respond to a folktale.
  • identify the characters that show giving and selflessness.
  • connect elements of the story to personal experience.
  • rewrite the folktale into dramatic form with stage directions.
  • produce a play from the student-written version of "The Drum."
  • perform the play for an audience.
  • reflect on the reading, writing, and acting experience.
  • a collection of sticks--at least one per student (see Teacher Preparation)
  • one copy of the folktale "The Drum"
  • five signs (12" x 18" paper) prepared with the five student roles in large print: Writer/director, Actor, Publicity, Stage Crew, Costumes
  • props, costumes, materials for making posters and playbills (to be determined and collected by student committees)
  • computer access for research and writing
  • samples of different types of theatre play bills (programs)
  • samples of short, simple plays (see Bibliographical References)
  • rubrics for each group as guides (see Handouts One, Two, Three, and Five for specific group rubrics) See Handout Six: Rubric for a general rubric and Bibliographical References for online rubrics for the writing, acting, and publicity groups)
  • teacher copy for each student of Handout Six: Rubric (This form may also be used for students to evaluate their group members.)
  • whole-class copies of Handout Four: Student Roles
Teacher Preparation 
  1. Before the first day, gather a variety of 6" - 10" sticks. The variety of collected sticks should reflect different interpretations of the word stick: tree branches, pieces of flat wood, polished sticks, chopsticks, sticks of lumber, etc. The number of sticks should be greater than the number of students in your class.
  2. The site contains a concise explanation of how to write a script. Teacher Note: Site has rolling advertising and some content that may not be school appropriate. Do not let students freely search this site.
  3. Suggested items for making horse:
  • broom stick (body)
  • men's tube sock (head)
  • rags or newspaper (stuffing)
  • yarn (main and tail)
  • two large buttons (eyes)
  • felt (ears)
  • string (bridle and to cinch head onto stick)
Home Connection 

Lesson Five includes a family night. Students perform their play for that night of demonstration and celebration.

Bibliography Free One Act Plays

Folktales from India "The Drum"

Scholastic. "Create A Playbill!" (includes rubric) "How to Write a 10 minute Play" 


  1. Day One:

    Anticipatory Set: Placea pile of sticks (see Teacher Preparation) on a front table. As students enter, have them choose a stick from the pile and take it to their place. Ask students to describe their stick briefly to the class. Ask studentsto come forward who believe they have the "best" stick. Have them tell the class why their stick is the "best."

  2. Read aloud the folktale "The Drum"

  3. Discuss the following questions. Discuss as a whole group, in small groups, or in a "think, pair, share" model or combine discussion with some written responses.

    • What emotions did you feel as the story progressed?
    • How did you feel initially about the mother giving her son a stick she found on the side of the road?
    • Was there any inherent value in the stick? What other value did the stick have?
    • Were there any characters in the story who acted selflessly? What did they do?
    • What else could the boy have done with the stick his mother gave him?
    • Did the boy inspire others to give? How?
    • How did the boy show compassion? In what way did he "investigate needs in his community"?
    • Have you ever felt moved to share something? What happened inside you when you did that?
    • What is the best way to receive a gift? How do we respond to the generosity of others?
    • What message does this story give us about how we can act? Do you appreciate this message?
  4. Ask the students if they have ever attended a play. Talk about those experiences (what they saw and felt) and determine how a play is different from a book or film.

  5. Tell the students that they are going to rewrite the folktale "The Drum" in play form. They will take different production roles and produce one ten-minute play that they will perform for some appropriate audiences.

  6. Ask the student if the play itself could be a gift or act of generosity. Brainstorm ideas for who would benefit from or appreciatethe message of the story (e.g., lower elementary, peers, seniors, etc.). Encourage students to take on the responsibility to find places (and audiences) to perform the play. The students can "investigate needs in the community" to determine an appropriate audience.

  7. Day Two:

    Anticipatory Set: Play a giving game with small treats, such as small wrapped candy. Put a bag of treats on a front table. Explain the rules of the game to the class. Then pass a treat to three students. When a student receives a treat (from the teacher or another student), he or she has a choice: 1) keep the gift and get a treat from the front table to give to another student or 2) pass the gifted treat to another student. Students may give a gift only to students who do not have a treat. Don't eat the treat until everyone has a treat. When you give your gift, you open yourself to getting a gift from another student. The game is over when every student has one treat. Then allow the students to eat the treat.

  8. Discuss the game: How do you feel when you share the gift you were given? Are you sure you will end up with a treat in the end? Was it important for someone to go to the front table to get new treats? How do you feel when you share the treat from the front table? How does this game compare to the story "The Drum"? How does the game compare to giving gifts in real situations (with friends or people you don't know). You may wish to play the game again to explore how students play it differently after the discussion.

  9. Remind the students that they will be creating a play of "The Drum." Discuss how the setting, story language, acting, costumes, and props may be changed from the originalin order to meet the interests and age of the audience. Discuss how to make the theme of the story clear in the action. The whole group should come to consensus about the vision for the final product before the individual groups meet.

  10. Give each student a copy of Handout Seven: Student Roles. The play production will be completed by five independent small groups, each with a different set of responsibilities. The groups come together later to create the final production of the story. Tell students to read about the five groups and silently select their first and second choices.

  11. While the students read silently, hang up around the room five papers with the five group names written on them (props, main actors, costumes, publicity, and writers/director). After students have read about the five groups, have them stand by the paper of their first committee choice. If the groups are not even, ask some students to move to their second choices. Use problem solving methods to make the committee distribution fairly even or numbers that are appropriate for the tasks.

  12. When the groups are set, tell the groups to meet and determine tasks and get started completing the responsibilities for their group listed on Handout Seven: Student Roles. Give each committee copies the Handout that explains their roles in more detail.

  13. Days Three to Six:

  14. With teacher acting as facilitator, groups work on fulfilling their responsibilities toward creating the play "The Drum." Meet as a whole group each day to discuss progress and share information so the groups continue to work toward the same vision.

  15. After all groups have completed their individual tasks, the teacher will help students coordinate all parts of the production process into a final production. The students practice the play and prepare for the public performances. Students from all teams may be extra actors in the production, as needed.

  16. Perform the play for the predetermined audiences.

  17. Post Production:

  18. Reflect on the process by discussing the following questions:What went well? What were the positive aspects of the production? How did the audience respond to the message? What else can the students do to pass on the message of the play? How can the students deconstruct the play and all the props in a responsible way?


The final product will serve as an authentic assessment of the student's work. A grade-appropriateevaluation/feedback formmay be given to the audiences. In addition, the teacher completes performance and production rubrics for the final product. (See Handouts for the different roles.)

Cross Curriculum 

After students have written, produced and rehearsed their play, they will perform it to their chosen audience and families to share and teach the idea of selfless giving.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.