“Ish” Story Drama

A Story Drama by Merryl Scott and Claire Moser


Title: Ish


Author: Peter H Reynolds

Reynolds, P. (2004). “Ish.” United States: Candlewick Press.


Grade: 3


Materials: A copy of the book “Ish”, paper and pencils


Description of the book cover: The cover of the book is primarily white with a watercolour painting of a boy leaping with a paint brush. The title looks as though the boy on the cover had just painted it. “Ish” is written in handwriting and the “I” is dotted with a yellow and pink flower.


Book Summary: A young boy named Ramon loves to draw until one day his older brother makes fun of his drawings making him feel self conscious. He eventually quits drawing after becoming so discouraged. His sister witnesses him drawing one day and Ramon gets very upset. He follows her to her room to find that she has his crumpled artwork displayed on her walls. His sister, Marisol, points out one of his drawings and tells him its her favourite because it looks “vase-ISH.” Through his sister encouraging him, Ramon is inspired to draw again and realizes that when he lets go of the fear of messing up he can draw more than he ever imagined he could.


Rationale: This book originally interested us because we thought it could be used for a cross curricular activity. After looking more into the book we discovered that the illustrations were created by using water colour and tea which we found really intriguing. The ultimate reason we chose to use this book was because we felt it had a strong message behind the story that young children could easily relate to. This book shows that you don’t always have to be perfect and that making mistakes is how you grow. It teaches students that without exploring and trying different things you close yourself off to lots of different opportunities.


Two keys questions from the story:

  • Thinking about the themes in the book do you think that you should quit doing something that you love just because someone says you are not good at it?
  • When you make fun of someone’s work how do you think that makes them feel and how will it affect them going forward?


Two Drama PLO’s:

A2 i: demonstrate collaboration skills in drama explorations

B3 ii: participate in a variety of drama forms


Cross-curricular PLO’s:

Language Arts:

A1: Use speaking and listening skills for the purposes of contributing to a class goal, sharing ideas and opinions, and making connections.

A5: Use a variety of strategies when expressing and presenting ideas, information, and feelings, including setting a purpose, accessing prior knowledge, generating ideas, organizing information, and practicing delivery.


A1: Use a variety of image sources to create images, including feelings, imagination, memory, observation, and sensory experience.

C1: Describe a variety of reasons people make and use visual arts .



Warm up Activity #1: Feelings Mill

3 minutes

Grouping: Individual

Strategy: Movement

Administration: Each person and their personal enthusiasm

Focus: Warming up and getting the students comfortable amongst each other and in their surroundings. As well as getting the students to start thinking about different emotions.


Teacher: We are first going to do a milling activity to get everyone moving. How this activity is going to work is everyone is going to mill throughout the room and when I say an emotion you will continue to mill demonstrating that emotion.


Use the emotions happy, sad, worried, confused, frustrated, self-conscious, silly, embarrassed, relieved, discouraged, and encouraged.


Activity #2: Begin to read the book

2 minutes

Grouping: As a class

Strategy: Listening

Administration: Copy of “Ish” by Peter Reynolds

Focus: Understanding the story

Introduce the book by showing the class the cover, reading the title and giving the name of the book.

Teacher: Is there anyone who has an idea about what this book may be about based on the cover and the title?

Ask a few students for their ideas on what the book could be about given the previous information.

Begin to read the book aloud to the class stopping at the end of page 6 (book does not have proper page number but we have counted them with page 1 beginning with the words “Ramon loved to draw.”


Activity #3: Tableau

13 minutes

Grouping: Groups of 2.

Strategy: Tableau

Administration: No materials needed

Focus: Student interpretation of the scene when Leon laughs at Ramon’s artwork. Create a still image representing the scene.

Teacher: After reading about Leon laughing at Ramon’s artwork we are going to create a tableau to represent what we just read. A tableau is a still image that you will hold for 3 seconds and present to the class if you feel comfortable with your interpretation of the scene. Not every groups tableau will be the same and it is encouraged to try to come up with something different than the group next to you. Make sure you attempt to use different variations of height in your tableau to create diversity and remember to represent the different characters in the scene! Now please get into groups of two and choose which of you is going to be partner A and which will be partner B.


Help students get into groups and check to see that each group has decided who will be partner A and who will be partner B by asking the A’s to raise their hands.


Teacher: Okay now that you have gotten into groups can the A’s please put up their hands. The partner A’s are going to be playing the role of Ramon. Partner B’s you will be playing the role of Leon.

 Give the students 3 minutes to prepare their tableaus. Visit each group and provide encouragement and help where needed, be sure to give time warnings. Once done, allow for up to 10 minutes for presentations. For those presenting have students line up on either side of the classroom and have the students who are viewing turn their backs to those presenting. Give the students 15 seconds to form their tableau and then have the rest of the class turn around to view the tableau for 10 seconds.


Have the class sit down again and continue reading the book. Read until the end of page 9.

30 seconds


Activity #4: Conscience Alley

10 minutes

Grouping: As a class

Strategy: Tapping in

Administration: Organize students into two lines facing each other in an “alley” formation. Choose one volunteer to be the person walking down conscience alley.

Focus: Considering the emotions people feel in certain situations.

Teacher: Okay students, I will now ask for someone to assume the role of Ramon.

Bring volunteer up to the front of the class

Teacher: Now we are going to have the rest of the class pick a partner and line up across from your partner facing each other. Once you are lined up nicely take 2 big steps backwards creating an alley for Ramon to walk down.

Have the students form the lines perpendicular to each other and get your volunteer to stand at the beginning of the alley.

Teacher: Now that we are in lines and have created an alley, we are going to use our imaginations to start thinking about what emotions Ramon might be feeling in the moment of him saying he is done with drawing. If you are struggling to think of an emotion put your hand up and I will come help you. Once you have thought of an emotion you need to come up with a sentence or phrase that would correspond with that emotion. For example, if you think that Ramon would be feeling sad you could say “Wow I am really sad that I have to stop drawing.” As Ramon walks down the alley and passes you, each person is going to say the emotion and phrase that they think Ramon would be feeling.


Have the students complete the activity and take a seat to get ready to read the next part of the story.


Continue reading the story until the end of page 14.

30 seconds


Activity #5: Drawing in Character

8 minutes

Grouping: Individually

Strategy: Tapping in

Administration:  Get the students to spread out around the room and give them each a pencil and piece of paper

Focus: Putting yourself in the role of the character.

Teacher: For this activity we are going to be drawing in character. What this means is that you are going to draw how you think Ramon would react to seeing all his crumpled artwork on Marisol’s bedroom walls. Be sure to draw something but you can also use words to describe whats happening if you feel more comfortable with having both drawings and words. This is going to be an individual silent activity. We are going to spread out around the classroom and you will be given 6 minutes to complete your drawing.


Ask the students to spread out and go around and give each student a piece of paper and a pencil. While the students are drawing go around the classroom and offer help where needed.

Teacher: Okay great work on your drawing in character everyone, I will come around to collect your drawings and once I have collected your drawing you may go sit back down on the carpet and get ready to listen to more of the story.


Collect student drawings.

Continue reading until page 20.

30 seconds


Activity #6: Reading and Reflecting

10 minutes

Grouping: As a class

Strategy: Listening and using critical thinking skills to discuss ideas.

Administration: A copy of the book “Ish” by Peter Reynolds

Focus: To find deeper meaning within the story.

Teacher: Okay after reading those last few pages and thinking about what we have already read, what do you think the important lesson Ramon has learned is?

Allow students to share their ideas and be sure to encourage all contributions.

Teacher: Raise your hand if you think it is important to do things you love regardless of whether people think you are good at them or not? Is there anyone that would like to share their thoughts?

Give students time to share.

Teacher: Why do you think Ramon felt energized and free after having his sister encourage him? How do you think encouragement can effect a person?

Let students share answers and give prompts where needed.

Teacher: Those were great answers and thank you to everyone who shared!


Activity #7: Write your own ending

4 minutes

Grouping: Individually

Strategy: Foreshadowing

Administration: Pencils and paper

Focus: Making a prediction

Teacher: Okay everyone now that we have read most of the story we are going to make

predictions about how we think the rest of the story will unfold. I am going to ask everyone to

take a seat somewhere around the room and I will come around with pencils and paper. Please

write down how you think the story will end.

Give students time to come up with a prediction and ask them to keep their pieces of paper

until after we finish reading the book.



Finish reading the book.

1.5 minutes.

Teacher: Would anyone like to share how they think the story will end? How was your prediction different than what actually happened?

Allow students to share


Activity #8: Closure

Grouping: As a class

Strategy: Closure

Administration: No materials needed

Focus: Closure

Teacher: Now that we have finished all the activities lets discuss how it went. What activities

did you like? What would you change for next time? Would you like to do this type of activity

again using a different story? Do you think it helped you to be able to put yourself into Ramon’s

shoes and understand how he was feeling? What do you think the key idea you can take away

from the book is?

Give students time to give their feedback about the activity.

Teacher: Thank you for your participation today!



We would choose to use contract assessment for this lesson. We feel that by using contract

grading it will allow students to open up and feel more comfortable without the pressure of

being graded on their dramatic skills. If the students participate I ntall the activites and

complete them at an acceptable standard this will be considered as the student meeting



Summary of Time:

  • Warm up Activity #1: Feelings Mill: 3 minutes
  • Activity #2: Begin to read the book: 2 minutes
  • Activity #3: Tableau: 13 minutes
  • Activity #4: Conscience Alley: 10 minutes
  • Activity #5: Drawing in Character: 8 minutes
  • Activity #6: Reading and Reflecting: 10 minutes
  • Activity #7: Write your own ending: 5 minutes
  • Activity #8: Closure: 6 minutes
  • Time to read the book: 3 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes


B.C. Ministry of Education (2010). Arts Education. Drama K – 7


Howe, J., & Raschka, C. (2012). Otter and Odder: A Love Story. United States: Candlewick

Press, U.S.

Miller, C. and Saxton, J. (2204) Into the Story. Language in Action Through Drama.


Reynolds, P. (2004). “Ish.” United States: Candlewick Press.





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