Study Guide

Beep

About this guide

The activities in this guide link the themes and concepts from Beep with the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum. Windmill hopes that this document will help you to make the most of Beep as a vehicle for genuine learning and reflection by providing a suite of ideas that will help you to bring the show into the classroom across different learning areas, both before and after viewing the performance. Windmill firmly believes that as experienced educators you know your students’ needs best, and so we invite you to adapt these activities to suit your own requirements in the classroom as you see fit.

The general capabilities are embedded within specific learning activities and can be identified with the following icons:

Coming to the show

Given that this may be many students first performance experience, it is important to talk about the protocols of attending the theatre.

Before the show you can:
• Ask about their experiences watching live performances (watching older siblings in a school concert, going to a concert, i.e. the Wiggles etc.)
• Share the journey with them, talk about their thoughts and feelings relating to the production
• Talk about going to a special theatre space.
• Explain that a performance usually finishes with clapping.
• Talk about being an audience member. Explain that audiences are an important part of the performance. In this performance they will be invited to help the performers through movement.
• Ask questions. What is the role of an audience? What happens during the performance? What can you do in your lounge when you are watching television that you cannot do in the theatre?
• Talk about the various roles within a theatrical production; from the actors to the lighting technician to the front of house staff. Talk about which roles the students will interact with and which ones they may not see as they work behind the scenes.
• Speak about how, unlike television or film, you can hear and see the actors and they can hear and see you.
• Talk to your students about directing their full focus to the performance and how this will help actor concentration.
• Talk about the importance of appreciation and affirmation for the performers.
• Speak about what happens when the performance begins and ends. The lights will dim and/or you might hear a voice over or sound. Explain that this is the audiences cue to focus their attention on the performance.

Synopsis

Beep is a beautiful story of friendship, overcoming adversity and working together. The show focuses on the trials of Beep, a robot who has landed on a strange planet and is unable to return home. Slowly but surely, her power starts to drain, and the audience is left wondering what will become of this loveable robot. Luckily for Beep, a new friend appears in the shape of Mort. Mort lives with his mum and his sister, Pop. When Beep arrives in his village, Mort is the first to approach her and they quickly become friends. This friendship turns out to be life saving for Beep, as it is Mort’s ingenuity and persistence that provides a solution to Beep’s battery problems.

Director's note: Sam Haren

In creating Beep, we wanted to build upon the stylistic approaches of the two works based on the Grug books we had previously made. These works combine puppetry with a unique form of performance and storytelling. The character of Grug is the only one of his kind. He lives by himself, has no family, and inventively solves the problems in his world. For Beep, we were interested in creating a village of creatures who all live together. We wanted to explore what happens when an outsider enters their world. Thematically, the work explores what it means to accept someone from a different place.

We’ve discovered that an episodic structure is very effective for this age group, as younger children engage with smaller narrative units rather than long, complex dramatic arcs. As a result, we’ve chosen to explore the large dramaturgical problems that occur in the show through in little story units, structured around experiences in the world of Beep that the children can relate to.

Writer's note: Katherine Fyffe

For me, Beep is a show about finding yourself out of your comfort zone, learning to adapt to new things, and the importance of friendship in smoothing life’s transitions. Themes of change, friendship and home are investigated through the characters and their environment.

Beep’s journey mirrors that of many people around the world today: her home is no longer safe, landing her in a strange new place which she must find a way to make her new home. This allows us to think about the broader idea of what “home” is for children and adults. Mort and the villagers also embark on a journey of learning to accept and embrace someone new in their tight knit community.

Change is a big part of children’s lives, whether that be starting school, moving house, or a shift in the family unit such as parental separation or a new family member. Beep demonstrates how these transitions can be made easier with the support of friends and the wider community.

Did you knowBeep was made by the same creative team as Grug and Grug and the Rainbow?

Early Years Learning Framework

Outcome 01 Children have a strong sense of identity

Pre-show activity

1.1 Children feel safe, secure, and supported.

1.2 Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency.

1.3 Children develop knowledgeable and confident self-identities.

1.4 Children learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect.

Have a discussion about the theatre. Has anyone seen a show before? Share their experiences and talk about the rules they had to follow (sitting quietly, clapping at the end, etc). To ensure that each student understands how the excursion will work and feels safe and supported when moving from school to the theatre space, create a visual timetable or story map of the day. Using the images provided in the appendix (see appendix for instructions), show your students pictures of each part of the day. Ask them to arrange the images in the correct order.

Leave this on display until the day of the performance.



Post-show activities

1.1 Children feel safe, secure, and supported.

Using the visual timetable you created in the pre-show activities, add any photos you took of your students on their excursion (add photos of them on the bus to the visual timetable card about getting the bus to the theatre etc).

Leave your display in an accessible location for parents and students to be able to share and discuss.

 

1.2 Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency.

1.3 Children develop knowledgeable and confident self-identities.

Introduce the word syllables and play a game where the students have to guess how many are in their name before you clap them. How many syllables do Beep and Mort have in their names?

Create a chart to show how many syllables each person in the class has, adding Beep and Mort, too!

 

1.4 Children learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect.

Have a discussion about how Mort helped Beep in the show. Why did he help her? Why do friends help each other? Ask your students to come up with a list of things that they do to help their friends. If they are confident enough, play a game where they mime doing something for someone and the rest of the group has to guess what they are doing.



Outcome 02 Children connect with and contribute to their world

Pre-show activity

2.1 Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation.

2.2 Children respond to diversity with respect.

2.3 Children become aware of fairness.

2.4 Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.

Allow your students to put on a short performance, using puppets or costumes from your dress up area. Model audience behaviour with other students, telling them what you are doing and why (e.g. At the end we give them a big round of applause, can you help me etc).



Post-show activities

2.1 Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation.

2.2 Children respond to diversity with respect.

Remind your students that Beep was from a different planet, and was quite different (in both looks and needs) to Mort, Pop and the other villagers. Hold a discussion about different cultures and countries. Ask your students to share where their family is from and create a class map using photos of each child. Celebrate each culture and invite parents or grandparents to come in and share a cuisine or tradition with the class.

2.3 Children become aware of fairness.

Discuss the idea of fairness and make a list of your students’ ideas. How was fairness shown in the production of Beep? (Mort and the villagers help Beep by working together and sharing the workload. They don’t just leave her without power, they help someone in need). Read The Little Red Hen by Diane Muldrow or other books based around fairness. Ask your students: how can we show fairness to others? Make a chart or display of their answers.

2.4 Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.

Have a number of non-fiction books about wind and solar power available for your students to look through. Read a new one each day and discuss renewable energy sources.

Ask your students to come up with some ways that they can help care for the environment in their learning setting (compost bin, recycling, turning off lights when not using them etc). Put them into action, if possible.



Outcome 03 Children have a strong sense of wellbeing

Pre-show activity

3.1 Children become strong in their social and emotional wellbeing.

3.2 Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.

Play a piece of upbeat music and ask your students how it makes them feel. Now play them a more sombre piece, and repeat the question. Make a list of things that make them happy and excited, and things that make them sad or reflective. Now ask them to create movements with their body to show those emotions without using words (e.g. high energy jumping or skipping for happy, slow walking with heads down for sad etc). Put their movements to the music tracks you used previously.

Building on this work, ask your students what they would do if they saw someone who was feeling sad. How could we cheer them up? Create a movement sequence expressing their ideas.



Post-show activities

3.1 Children become strong in their social and emotional wellbeing.

During the activities you carry out, model and explain resilience and managing with frustrations when faced with a challenge.

3.2 Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.

Ask your students if they remember how Beep got her energy (the wind). How do we get our energy? (food) How do we keep our bodies healthy and working well? Discuss healthy foods and sometimes foods.

Make a chart using pictures of different food items and ask your students to sort them into the two categories.



Outcome 04 Children are confident and involved learners

Pre-show activity

4.1 Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.

4.2 Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.

4.3 Children transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another.

4.4 Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.

Set up an area within your learning space where your students can play and experiment with windmills, pinwheels, wind turbines and paper aeroplanes. Encourage questions and conversations around how the wind make them work.

Make a pinwheel with your students (see appendix for instructions). They can plant them in your outdoor area and make predictions about what will happen in different weather conditions. Make notes of their observations and thoughts.



Post-show activity

4.1 Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.

4.2 Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.

4.3 Children transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another.

4.4 Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.

Using the knowledge your students gained from their pre-show experimental play with wind turbines and pinwheels, see if they can create their own design, using a range of different materials (cardboard, pop-sticks, glue, straws etc).

Using their imagination, ask your student to come up with a type of energy that we could use that would be renewable. Discuss their answers and allow them to design and make their machines.

Discuss what would have happened to Beep if she had stayed out in the rain (parts of her would rust and her electronics would stop working). Place a sample of the objects listed below in a container of water and check them every few days. Leave the rest of the objects nearby or in a similar dry container to compare what happens. See which objects start to show signs of rust and which do not. Let your students touch and smell the objects that have rusted. Do they feel different? Do they smell? Do they look different?

• Paper clips, small bolts, metal washers and any other small metal objects to check for rusting (let the children brainstorm and gather samples as appropriate).

• Include some items that won’t rust such as pennies, brass and plastic items.



Outcome 05 Children are effective communicators

Pre-show activity

5.1 Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.

5.2 Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts.

5.3 Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.

5.4 Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work.

5.5 Children use information and communication technologies to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking.

Have a range of books based on friendship available for your students to look at. Rotate the stories as the feature story of the week and discuss your students’ thoughts on each book. Which was their favourite and why? Which ones didn’t they like as much and why? Explain that when you go to see the show Beep, there will be two characters who become friends. Ask your students to look out for those characters (Beep and Mort) and discuss their friendship after the performance.



Post-show activities

5.1 Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.

Using the photographs you took of the theatre trip as a stimulus, hold discussions about the show and what your students thought of it. What were their favourite bits, and why? Ask them to draw or paint their favourite character and hold and show and tell for the class, giving your students an opportunity to share their work and ideas.

5.2 Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts.

Have some fiction and non-fiction books about robots available for your students to look through. Read a new one each day and discuss how robots are used in the world today.

The following books have been suggested by Kath Fyffe, who wrote Beep, as they were some of her inspiration when writing the show. Read some of these books and see if your students can find any similarities in the themes of friendship and difference/resilience in Beep and the books below.

• Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
• The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
• My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood
• The BFG by Roald Dahl

5.3 Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.

In your art/painting area, have lots of different media available for students to create their own versions of Mort and Beep (e.g. cut up pieces of silver/grey paper, red and yellow paints for Beep; hessian, string, leaves for Mort etc).

5.4 Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work.

Using illustrations of the production of Beep, ask your students to retell the story and put the illustrations in the correct order.

Remind your students about Beep’s power bars – how many did she have in total? (5) Focus your mathematical work for the week on counting to 5 and representing it in different ways: grouping objects, painting power bars, sitting in groups of 5 etc.



Australian Curriculum F-2

English

Pre-show activities

Have a number of books based on friendship available in your reading area. Read some as a class and discuss the central themes of the books. Discuss the features of the stories and create a chart of your students’ responses.

Read The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan. There is also a beautiful animated version available on YouTube, which you could watch after reading the book. This story was a point of inspiration for the writer of Beep and is about an unusual creature who doesn’t fit in.

Discuss the themes of the story (belonging, helping others, compassion, noticing those in need) and create a list of your students’ responses. Following this, they could design and create their own lost things to display around the classroom, accompanied by a short descriptive piece of writing about their creation.

Learning Outcomes

Foundation Year

• Literature and Context
Recognise that texts are created by authors who tell stories and share experiences that may be similar or different to students’ own experiences (ACELT1575)

• Interacting with others
Listen to and respond orally to texts and to the communication of others in informal and structured classroom situations (ACELY1646)

• Examining literature
Identify some features of texts including events and characters and retell events from a text (ACELT1578)

Year 1

• Literature and context
Discuss how authors create characters using language and images (ACELT1581)

• Interacting with others
Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening behaviours, showing interest, and contributing ideas, information and questions (ACELY1656)

• Examining literature
Discuss features of plot, character and setting in different types of literature and explore some features of characters in different texts (ACELT1584)

Year 2

• Literature and context
Discuss how depictions of characters in print, sound and images reflect the contexts in which they were created (ACELT1587)

• Interacting with others
Listen for specific purposes and information, including instructions, and extend students’ own and others’ ideas in discussions (ACELY1666)

• Examining literature
Discuss the characters and settings of different texts and explore how language is used to present these features in different ways (ACELT1591)



Post-show activities

Discuss the performance with your students and record their responses. What were their favourite parts of the show? Who were their favourite characters? Why?

Ask your students to write a summary of their trip to the theatre. Depending on ability, their report could include pictures and key words, phrases, or more complex sentences. When their written reports are completed, give each student the chance to present their summary to the class.

Learning Outcomes

Foundation Year

• Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images (ACELT1580)

• Use interaction skills including listening while others speak, using appropriate voice levels, articulation and body language, gestures and eye contact (ACELY1784)

• Deliver short oral presentations to peers (ACELY1647)

• Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing knowledge (ACELY1651)

Year 1

• Use interaction skills including turn-taking, recognising the contributions of others, speaking clearly and using appropriate volume and pace (ACELY1788)

• Make short presentations using some introduced text structures and language, for example opening statements (ACELY1657)

• Create short imaginative and informative texts that show emerging use of appropriate text structure, sentence-level grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation and appropriate multimodal elements, for example illustrations and diagrams (ACELY1661)

Year 2

• Understand that different types of texts have identifiable text structures and language features that help the text serve its purpose (ACELA1463)

• Rehearse and deliver short presentations on familiar and new topics (ACELY1667)

• Create short imaginative, informative and persuasive texts using growing knowledge of text structures and language features for familiar and some less familiar audiences, selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose (ACELY1671)



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