The Doll People Room Transformation

Posted on April 22, 2019. Filed under: educational, Grade 1 & 2, room transformation, teaching and learning |

“Room transformations” have been going on for a long time, but Hope and Wade King, authors of the Wild Card, have popularized it in recent years through their book and workshops. This is how I turned my classroom into a dollhouse for two full days of themed adventures in grade 2.

First, our class read the novel, The Doll People for the last two months. I would read aloud one chapter during our classroom “Quiet Time” three times a week. The students, both boys and girls, were really into it. It’s very Toy Storyesque but with a female protagonist. 🙂

the doll people

Once we had finished the novel on the Friday, I surprised them by letting them watch Toy Story on the afternoon of the Monday. We used Mentimeter as a backchannel during the movie, and they compared similarities and differences between the two stories. We are 1:1 in my grade 2 class, so everyone had an iPad that they could type their answers into. We would pause every 30 minutes or so to look at some of the answers that had come in to give others ideas if they hadn’t written anything yet. The answers weren’t always super clear, but after the movie was over, we went through each answer and the child was allowed to explain what they meant.

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A screenshot of some of the answers I was getting throughout the movie.

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On the Tuesday, I gave the students a “clue” to what was going to be happening on Wednesday. I photocopied the page out of the novel that looked like Auntie Sarah’s journal entry with spiders drawn all around the outside of the page. I handed it to them right at the end of the day and told them it was their “clue.”

The next morning when the students showed up, I didn’t even let them in the classroom. I was dressed as Tiffany Funcraft, and I took them right upstairs to the art room to paint their doll people. My principal had let me buy some wooden dolls off of Amazon. We used water soluble acrylic paint and little paint brushes. There were 40 dolls in the package, and I only have 22 students in my class, so most students got 2 dolls each.

When they finished, we came downstairs. I had turned my classroom into Kate’s (the human character in the book) dollhouse. I made the classroom door into the front door of the dollhouse, and set up five rooms; the parlour, the bedroom, the kitchen, the library, and the attic. In our school we have accordion dividers in each pod. I borrowed three and moved them into my classroom, partitioning off each section into a dollhouse room. The breakout room connected to our classroom became the attic.

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I knew the kids were going to be excited, so I gave them time to just play around and pretend. They went through each room and were just giggling with joy. They loved it.

While the students were playing, I had my friend Jann, a retired colleague of mine, pull students in groups of 4. I had brought some dress up clothes for the kids to dress up in, and she was taking pictures of them in front of a green screen.

Then the students used the app, GreenScreen by DoInk to insert themselves into some dollhouse pictures. Jann said she didn’t do any of it for them. She just gave verbal instructions, and they did it all. That’s the nice thing about the app. It is very child friendly!

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The results were awesome, and I actually printed these pictures out and glued them onto black construction paper and gave them as gifts at the end of Thursday as a little reminder of their time as dolls over the two days.

Before lunch, we went back to the upstairs art room and worked on acrostic poems with our new wooden doll’s names. I used an example with Annabelle, the protagonist.  The rest of the students came up with their own doll names and wrote about what their doll was like through the acrostic poem. Some were very creative!

On Wednesday afternoon, Auntie Sarah went missing, and the students had to complete a variety of tasks to find her. There was a code they needed that they could only get by doing double digit addition, they had to get past “The Captain” (the cat from the story) by creating a cat on the Osmo tangram app, they had to find the rhyming words from the story in a bunch of other words that didn’t rhyme using iCard Sort, and they had to go on a QR scavenger hunt (we use the QR reader app Inigma to eventually find clues that would lead to Auntie Sarah. The kids had a blast completing all the activities. It was sort of like an escape room, but not…

On Thursday, I showed up as Uncle Doll. 🙂

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We spent the entire day preparing our own doll stories and then recording them. To storyboard, we used the app, Paper. This app is amazing because it still works on the iPad 1s.  Each child was responsible to create 5 “pages” for their groups’ story. 1) Beginning: Introduce characters/setting. 2) Beginning 2: Character traits and goals 3) Middle: The problem 4) The problem continued 5) The resolution.

The students could draw and/or write in this app which made it perfect for differentiation as some kids found it way easier to type… as they don’t love art.  Others hate writing and so they were able to draw their scenes out. Because every member in each group was writing out their story in a different way, they could use everyone’s storyboard to piece together what was going to happen in the group’s story.

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This drawing was done on an iPad1 where there is only one drawing option available. It is the calligraphy pen highlighted on the left hand side of her iPad.

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When they were done collaborating and co-creating their doll people stories, they got to take a doll house. (I had borrowed 7 from friends and colleagues for the day.) They went to a quiet corner of the school and recorded their doll people stories in the doll houses.

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The trickiest thing for them to learn was to keep the iPad close enough to the doll house so that they didn’t get each other in the shot. They had a blast using their own wooden dolls that they had created to act out the stories. Some of them used Seesaw to record and post their videos.

Others used the iPad’s camera roll, and then iMovie to splice the clips/scenes together.

By the end of the day, everyone was so excited to share their stories with the rest of the class.  Since this was the last day before Easter break, I took the last half hour to get the students to help me take down our dollhouse classroom. The students were heart broken that we were taking it down, and they kept asking if we could set it up like that again sometime.

I might do another classroom transformation before the end of the school year… I will see.  Upon reflection, I think I would find a way to keep the tables together and not partition the classroom so much though. I found it difficult to manage all the children in different rooms at one time. I needed to have some type of perch where I could see all students at once. Something to think about for next time.

Any comments or suggestions? Please comment below!

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One Response to “The Doll People Room Transformation”

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A lot of work on your part but what an experience for the students!


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