Keep up to date with all of the latest digital learning releases from The Arts Unit
Back to Top
Print this page
>> Back to SpecEd 2018 – Unit 2 Under the Big Top

Teaching and learning activity attachments

Select the attachment to display its details.

In order to print out any of the following attachments, please select the ‘Print this page’ button at the bottom of this page.

Attachment 1.1 – Circus scene image

Attachment 1.2 – Circus tent image

Attachment 2.1 – P. T. Barnum – biography

Phineas Taylor Barnum was born on the 5th of July in 1810 in a small town in Connecticut, USA. He came from a working-class family. He started school at the age of six and his favourite subject was maths. Phineas spent a lot of time reading or coming up with crazy ideas, like selling cherry-rum to soldiers, instead of doing his chores on the farm. One time, he was hired to help with a cattle-drive to New York. He fell in love with the big city.

When he was 19 years old, Phineas married the love of his life, Charity Hallet. They eventually had four daughters together. Eventually, Phineas moved his family to New York .

It was in New York that he found his first job as a 'showman'. Phineas realised that people were happy to pay money to hear a good story and that they were very curious about weird and wonderful things.

Phineas found an old black woman, named Joice Heth, and pretended that she was the 161-year-old former nurse of General George Washington. For 25 cents, people would sit and listen to her telling stories about her life. It was all pretend, and after she died, everybody found out that Phineas had been lying to them. He didn't really care and later gave himself the name ‘The Prince of Humbug.’

P. T. Barnum and 'General Tom Thumb'

On the 1st of January 1842, Phineas opened Barnum's American Museum. He filled it with curiosities and oddities. He collected almost anything that he thought would bring people to look inside the museum. Some of his most unique attractions were the 'Feejee Mermaid', a dwarf named 'General Tom Thumb' and a family of albino people. Phineas operated the museum for 26 years and had over 850,000 items in there.

There were performances at the museum every afternoon, including dog shows, beauty contests, Shakespearean plays and demonstrations of new machines. For only 25 cents, people could spend the whole day being entertained and educated.

Many important people of the time visited Phineas's museum. Some of the most important included American president Abraham Lincoln, scientist Thomas Edison, authors Mark Twain and Charles Dickens and the Prince of Wales.

Over 38 million visitors went through his museum before it was finally destroyed by a second fire in 1868.

Phineas and General Tom Thumb were invited to meet the Queen of England and it was there that Barnum met a famous European singer called Jenny Lind. Phineas organised for Jenny Lind to come to America and perform in some concerts. The American people loved her, and both Phineas and Jenny made a lot of money from the concerts.

Phineas didn't always make good business decisions. He decided to be part of a clock company that did not do well. It was a disaster and he lost all of his money. He had to sell his three-storey mansion in Connecticut and it took five years before he was back to the way he used to live.

After his museum burnt down, Phineas became a politician. He wanted to turn his town into a popular place for people to live and visit. He also enjoyed writing and wrote his own autobiography and some other books, such as 'The Art of Money Getting.'

Phineas was just about to retire, when he had an offer that was too good to refuse. Some circus managers from another part of the country asked him to join them and create, ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. He agreed to work together and when he was 61 years old he started the business that he would become most famous for.

Phineas looked around for new acts for the circus and also gathered lots of his old friends from the museum. They created an amazing circus in New York and people came from all over America to see it.

Another successful circus owner, James Bailey, joined with him in 1880 and the circus got even bigger and better! The biggest success was when they bought Jumbo the elephant.

After another seven years, Phineas stopped working at the circus so that he could spent time at home with his family. On the day that he died, aged 81, his last words were to ask how the ticket sales at the circus had been that day.

P. T. Barnum was the most popular American of the 19th century and some people say the most popular person in the world at the time. He will be always remembered as ‘The Greatest Showman!’

Attachment 2.2 – P. T. Barnum – comprehension questions

Using the information in the biography about P. T. Barnum, answer the following questions in full sentences.


1. When did P. T. Barnum meet his wife Charity?

2. How long did Barnum operate his museum for?


3. Why do you think Barnum was called the ‘Prince of Humbug’?

4. Why do you think Barnum joined forces with James Bailey?


5. Is there anywhere in our modern world that reminds you of Barnum’s American Museum? Have you ever visited a place like that?


6. Can you explain why people came to see Barnum’s ‘freaks’ at his museum?


7. Do you think that P. T. Barnum made good decisions?  How do you know?

Attachment 3.1 – Barnum’s ‘curiosities and oddities’ – fact sheets

Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy

Fedor Jeftichew was born in Russia in 1868. When he was 16, P. T. Barnum brought him to America to be a part of his museum. Fedor was born with a condition called 'hereditary hypertrichosis', which is sometimes called 'werewolf syndrome'. This meant that a lot of hair grew all over his entire body.

Fedor’s father also suffered from this condition and had worked in circuses in Europe too. Fedor was actually quite smart, and could speak Russian, German and English.

P. T. Barnum made up a story, saying that a hunter had tracked Fedor and his father to their cave and captured them. He described Fedor as a savage, who could not be taught to live like a human. This was not true. Barnum made Fedor pretend to act like a dog in the museum, sometimes barking and snarling at the people who had come to watch.

Fedor died in 1904 when he was only 35 years old, from pneumonia. He was in Greece at the time, and when the people in America heard the news they were very sad and missed him very much.

Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy with his father
Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy

Four-Legged Girl from Texas

Myrtle Corbin was 13 when she started working in ‘freak shows’. She was a very popular ‘oddity’.

Myrtle had been born with two separate pelvises, side by side. Because of this, Myrtle had four individual legs.

She had the ability to move her two inner legs, but there were too weak to be able to walk or stand on.

Because Myrtle had become so famous in different circuses and museums, some people tried to pretend that they had extra legs in other ‘freak shows’ around the world.

Myrtle made a lot of money as part of these museums and shows. When she was 19 she finished working in this way and married James Clinton Bicknell. She had four daughters and one son.

Myrtle lived until six days before her 60th birthday in 1928.

Myrtle Corbin
Myrtle Corbin

The World’s Tallest Man

Jack Earle was always a very tall person. He was already six feet tall before he was 10 years old and grew to over seven feet tall by the age of 13. Jack was always considered a ‘giant’! It is not known exactly how tall he was, but it was somewhere near eight feet tall. That’s almost two and a half metres! His condition was known as acromegalic gigantism.

Jack had been a Hollywood actor before joining the circus. He had been in films such as 'Hansel and Gretel' and 'Jack and the Beanstalk' but fell and hurt himself badly, which meant he couldn’t act anymore.

Jack had said that he never wanted to be in a ‘freak show’, but he needed to make a living, so he joined the Ringling Bros. circus, which eventually joined with Barnum, and he spent 14 years on the road with them.

While he worked at the circus, Jack’s closest friends were the very short performers. On his first day, Jack felt better when one of the very short performers, Harry Doll, explained that there were more ‘freaks’ in the audience than there were in the show.

Eventually Jack left the circus and became a wine salesman. He died in 1952, at the age of 46.

Jack Earle
Jack Earle playing cards
Jack Earle with man (unnamed) on his knee

The bearded lady

One of the most famous ‘oddities’ in Barnum’s American Museum was Annie Jones, the ‘bearded lady’. Annie started working for Barnum at the age of one.  Because she was so popular with the audience, Barnum offered her parents a three-year contract at $150 a week. That was a lot of money at that time.

While being looked after by a nanny employed by Barnum, Annie was kidnapped by another museum owner, who wanted to have her in his own show. He insisted that she was in fact his daughter. When it went to court, Annie ran into the arms of her parents and her mother always stayed close to her daughter after that.

Annie Jones was born with a condition that caused lots of hair to grow on her face. The actual name for the condition was never found out.

Because she was such a good singer, Annie became as well known for her musical skills as well as her bearded face.

Annie got married twice and died at the age of 37, when she became sick from a common disease at the time, tuberculosis.

Annie Jones – the bearded lady
Annie Jones – the bearded lady

General Tom Thumb

Charles Sherwood Stratton was an otherwise healthy child, but he stopped growing at six months of age, when he was only 64cm tall.

Barnum heard about this extraordinary child. Charles had been taught to sing, dance and impersonate celebrities by his parents. Barnum offered to pay him $3 a week to work at the American Museum. That was a lot of money for a child, and his parents agreed.

P. T. Barnum pretended that Charles was older than he was. He was drinking wine and smoking cigars in the show before he was seven years old. In 1844, Barnum toured with ‘General Tom Thumb’ in Europe and met Queen Victoria. She was very amused, but felt sorry for the little man.

After this visit with the Queen, Charles became very popular. Barnum was now paying him $150 a week, which was a huge amount of money at the time.

By the time that Charles retired, he was very rich and happily married. He lived in the most expensive neighbourhood in New York, owned a yacht and dressed in the nicest clothing that he could buy.

Charles died at the age of 45 and more than 10,000 people attended his funeral.

General Tom Thumb at his wedding

Attachment 3.2 – Teachers’ background information on ‘freak shows’

Circuses in the 1800s capitalised on the extreme and bizarre to earn profit. It worked! For many years, the most popular component of the circus was the ‘freak show’.

A ‘freak show’ was an exhibition of biological rarities. Typical features would be physically unusual humans, such as those uncommonly large or small, those with both male and female sexual characteristics, people with extraordinary diseases or conditions, and performances that were expected to shock viewers. Heavily tattooed or pierced people have sometimes been seen in freak shows, as have physical performers such as fire-eaters and sword swallowers.

Some believe that freak shows contributed significantly to the way American culture views non-conforming bodies. Freak shows were a space for the general public to scrutinise bodies different from their own, from dark-skinned people to victims of war and diseases, to ambiguously-sexed bodies. People felt that paying to view these ‘freaks’ gave them permission to compare themselves favourably to the ‘freaks’.

People in sideshow acts were not always born different; sometimes they were ‘manufactured’ to bring in money from the crowds. Clyde Ingalls, manager of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus sideshow in the 1930s once said, 'Aside from such unusual attractions as the famous three-legged man and the Siamese twin combinations, freaks are what you make them. Take any peculiar looking person, whose familiarity to those around him makes for acceptance, play up that peculiarity and add a good spiel and you have a great attraction.'

These shows were quite profitable for the showmen and often for the stars themselves. It gave them a steady job and income, rather than being institutionalised for their disabilities. Others have argued that the stars were exploited for profit. In an era before welfare or workers compensation, severely disabled people often found that putting themselves on show was their only choice and opportunity for making a living. Many freak show performers were lucky and gifted enough to earn a good living and sometimes became celebrities. Some commanded high salaries and earned far more than acrobats and actors. Barnum paid his performers well and some were making money equivalent to sports stars of today.

During the first decade of the 20th century, the popularity of the freak show was starting to dwindle. By the 1940s they were starting to lose their audience, with credible people turning their backs on the show. Scientists had started to be able to explain human abnormalities, which took away some of the mystery and appeal. The ‘freaks’ became objects of sympathy rather than fear or disdain. Laws were passed restricting freak shows for this reason. The rise of disability rights also put an end to such shows. It was finally viewed as wrong to profit from the misfortune of others.

Today, popular television networks still offer shows that exploit people in the same way that Barnum’s show did. Shows like 'Little People, Big World' and 'My 600-lb Life' look at the oddities of human nature.

Attachment 4.1 – Jason Acuña – fact sheet

Jason Acuña
Jason Acuña
© jondoeforty1 CC BY 2.0

Jason Acuña

Jason Acuña is an actor, stunt performer and professional skateboarder, who also has a condition known as dwarfism. He is only 1.23 metres tall, at the age of 45. He is well known as ‘Wee Man’.

Acuña was born in Italy, but grew up in America. Acuña works for the skateboard magazine 'Big Brother' and it was through this work that he got involved in the television series 'Jackass'.

In 2007, Acuña starred in the reality TV series 'Armed and Famous' and as host of MTV’s 'Scarred Live'. He is the host of Fox Sports' skateboarding show '54321'.

Acuña has appeared in 'Celebrity Circus' and has acted in the feature film 'Elf-Man'.

Wee Man skateboarding

Attachment 5.1 – History of circus – fact cards


Cirque du Soleil, based in Canada, starts. Using no animals, they focus on acrobatics, music and theatre.


The circus becomes popular in England and large cities built special buildings to house the circuses, with wild animals in the ring.


Circus manager Astley introduces jugglers, tightrope walkers and clowns to perform in between his horse acts.


Charles Hughes takes his circus to Russia for the first time. One of his pupils, Bill Rickets, opens the first circus in America.


Phillip Astley gave riding lessons in the morning and then put on trick horse-riding shows in his ‘ring’ or ‘circus’ in the afternoon.


Country fairs become popular in England. Performers get to show off their talent. Acrobats, jugglers, rope dancers and trick riders put on shows.


Minstrels (travelling performers), are seen as a threat and laws banned their gypsy life. The minstrels started to put on permanent shows instead.


Groups of travelling entertainers (minstrels) moved between villages, performing songs, bringing news and telling stories.


The Russian government takes control of the circus in that country. It starts training circus performers like gymnasts, which became popular around the world.


Circus schools start to become more popular in many countries, including Australia, sometimes paid for by the government.


A circus was an open air arena with chariot races, pretend battles and live animal displays. Circus Maximus, in Rome, could seat up to 250,000 people.


James Bailey takes his circus on a sailing tour to Honolulu, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and South America.


The Ringling Brothers buy Barnum and Bailey’s circus and combine the two biggest circuses in America into one show.


Tight rope dancers were the fairground stars. This was the start of the trapeze. They began by swinging on a slack rope and then added a bar.


A French gymnast, Jules Leotard, first jumped from one trapeze to another. He was well known for his act as well as his revealing costume – the leotard!


At the Cirque Olympique in Paris, the first trained elephant (called Kioumi) was part of a circus.


John Glenroy, a horse riding acrobat, did the first somersault on horseback during a circus performance.


Nepean High School becomes a Performing Arts School, with a special circus program for its students.


Circus West starts in Dubbo, providing circus skills training for NSW public school students before and during school.


Circus Oz begins in Australia. It was a company of clowns, acrobats and aerialists, taking the circus in a new direction.


Circuses in America started travelling by rail, pulling down their massive tents and packing up to travel to a new town.


The first circus tent made fully of canvas was used, instead of the usual wooden construction. This meant they could move the circus more quickly and easily.


P.T. Barnum launched his Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome, which included an exhibition of animal and human oddities.


The first circus was held in America in Philadelphia. President George Washington even attended a circus in that first season.

Attachment 5.2 – Historical circus pictures

Roman circus (1000s)
Cirque du Soleil (1984)
Philip Astley (1768)
Acrobats on horseback (1840s)
Jules Leotard (1859)
Circus Oz (1990s)

Attachment 8.1 – Cirque du Soleil – fact sheet

The traditional image of a circus includes animals like elephants and horses, jugglers, aerialists and clowns. Most people imagine a ringmaster and people flying through the air on trapeze and high wires.

At Cirque du Soleil, you will certainly see people performing amazing acts, and you will definitely see some amazing flips, dives and jumps, but you will not see any animals at all.

Cirque du Soleil took the idea of the circus and completely changed it up in a way that has shocked and amazed audiences all over the world for the past 20 years.

Cirque du Soleil started in Canada in 1984, and it took a little while before it became really big. Now, they have circuses in different countries all over the world, and people pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket to see the spectacle.

The name, Cirque du Soleil, means 'circus of the sun'. It is a combination of circus, street performance and theatre. It is considered the circus of the future! There are wild, outrageous costumes, with amazing lighting techniques and live, original music.

Whilst it is very different in many ways, Cirque is still a circus. It is performed in a circle, surrounded by rows of seats and usually under a tent. They wanted to keep three key factors of the old-fashioned circus – the tent, the clowns and the acrobatic acts.

Attachment 8.2 – Cirque du Soleil – comprehension questions

Answer the questions about Cirque du Soleil and remember to use full sentences in your answer.


1. When and where did Cirque du Soleil begin?

2. What sort of acts do they have in Cirque du Soleil?


3. Why do you think Cirque du Soleil tried something different with the circus?

4. Why would they have kept the circus tent?


5. What did you think were the most exciting things about the Cirque du Soleil performances that you looked at?

Attachment 9.1 – Cirque du Soleil – music analysis of 'Hypnotique'

Music is very important to all Cirque du Soleil performances. It is performed live and usually has no words.

The song we are going to listen to today is called 'Hypnotique' and it is from the show 'Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities'. The show goes back in time, visiting some of the most important moments in human history – the invention of electricity, the bicycle, the gramophone.  It is a time-travelling circus show!

The music was created by Raphael Beau, with Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard. It joins jazz music and a modern style, called electro swing.

Listen to the first three minutes of the music and list as many instruments as you can hear playing.

How does this music make you feel? Happy, confused, sad, angry, worried, excited?  Why does it make you feel that way?

Attachment 11.1 – Persuasive writing – proforma

Main idea / title


The main point you want to make.

Argument 1

Argument 1

Argument 1

Remember evidence!

Useful words:

  • Firstly, ...
  • Secondly, ...
  • In my opinion, ...
  • Some believe that ...
  • I feel that ...
  • It is certain ...
  • Therefore, ...
  • For this reason, ...

Ask questions to get the reader thinking.


Sum up the main argument.

Attachment 11.2 – Persuasive writing – marking rubric

4 points
3 points
2 points
Needs work
1 point
You have a strong convincing point of view. You include clear arguments with explanations supporting each argument.
Your point of view is convincing. You include clear arguments that have some explanations supporting each argument.
Your point of view is not strong enough to convince. You include arguments that have explanations but are not clear.
Your point of view is not clear. You have very few explanations and arguments to support an opinion.
You use clear and descriptive arguments that support your position. Persuasive strategies are used.
You use good arguments that support your position. Some persuasive strategies are used.
Your arguments are present, but may be unclear. This makes it difficult to support your position.
You use little or no arguments to support a position.
You use a logical order of arguments to persuade your audience. Transition words are used often and correctly
You use a logical order of arguments to persuade your audience. Some transitions are used correctly.
Your order of arguments is unclear or presented in a confusing way. Transition words may be used, although may not be used correctly.
Your arguments are not organised. If transition words are used, most are not used correctly.
You demonstrate an excellent control of language, techniques and sentences. A clear position is supported, with excellent arguments. You are convincing.
You demonstrate good control of language, techniques, and sentences. A position is supported by good arguments. Most of these arguments are convincing.
Your language and sentence formation sometimes makes it difficult to understand your position and supporting arguments.
Your language and sentence formations are unclear. Your position is not supported with enough of an argument to convince your reader.
You use a variety of sentence structures. You have very few errors in grammar usage, spelling and punctuation. The errors that are there do not make the writing unclear.
You use a variety of sentence structures. You have some errors in grammar, usage, spelling and punctuation. A few of these errors may make parts of the writing unclear.
You do not use a variety of sentence structures, and some sentences may be fragments. There are many errors in grammar, usage, spelling and punctuation.
Many sentences are awkward or are fragments. There are many grammar, usage, spelling and punctuation errors. These errors make the paper very difficult to read.

Attachment 12.1 – Hall of mirrors – fact sheet

A house of mirrors in the Czech Republic

A 'hall of mirrors’ (or a ‘house of mirrors’) is a traditional activity at country shows, amusement parks and circuses. The idea is that you form a maze-like puzzle, with mirrors as the walls. Sometimes there are also mirror obstacles and occasionally, glass is used instead of mirrors, to make it more confusing.  

Sometimes the mirrors make your reflection seem strange – larger or smaller, because of different curves in the glass. Sometimes this is funny but sometimes it is meant to be frightening.

One of the main aims of a hall of mirrors is to make it difficult to tell what is real and what is an illusion.

One of the most famous ending sequences in film history is from a movie called 'Enter the Dragon', starring Bruce Lee. The final scene takes place in a hall of mirrors, where Bruce Lee has trouble telling reality from truth.

Many people find a hall of mirrors fun, but others find it scary. What about what you think?

What would be fun about being in a hall of mirrors?

What would be scary about being in a hall of mirrors?

Attachment 12.2 – How mirrors work

All surfaces reflect some light. For us to see a surface, light has to reflect off it and enter our eyes.

The direction that light travels can be drawn using arrows on a straight line.

Can you show the direction that the light is travelling by drawing arrows onto the diagram above?

Different surfaces reflect light in different ways. Have a look at the two diagrams below. Talk to your learning partner: Do you think these two surfaces will reflect light in the same way? Why or why not?

Light bounces off surfaces at the same angle that it hits it. So, if it hits an uneven surface, the light will scatter in all different directions. This is called diffused reflection. If it hits an even surface, then the light we get is not scattered, and it is a mirror image.

Attachment 13.1 – Concave and convex mirrors – teacher information

Demonstrate the way concave and convex mirrors reflect light using this technique.

You will need:

  • a piece of flexible foam – camp mat or play mat foam works well, or even an old thong
  • three sharp pencils.

Push the pencil point first into the sheet of foam, an equal distance apart from each other.

Plane mirror

To demonstrate light rays reflecting off a plane mirror, hold the piece of foam straight. The pencils represent the rays of light. The light is reflected off the plane mirror at the same angle at which they hit it, so the image is bounced straight back. An object's image in a plane mirror looks exactly the same size and shape as the object does in real life.

Concave mirror

To model light reflecting off a concave mirror, bend the foam around so that the pencils converge to a point. This shows how the light rays reflect off a concave mirror, coming to a focal point that will create a magnified image of the object. From far away, the image will appear to be upside down, as the rays of light will have crossed over and be on opposite sides. As you move in and reach the focal point, the image will turn the right way up and look larger than in real life.

Convex mirror

Finally, to show light reflecting off a convex mirror, bend the foam backwards so that the pencils diverge and spread out. This shows how the rays of light are reflected at a wider angle at the edges of the mirror than they are in the centre of the mirror. The image shown in this mirror will be smaller than in real life. Because the image appears smaller, this type of mirror will enable us to see more of a scene than in a plane mirror.

Attachment 14.1 – Reflecting on a mirror line – worksheet

Reflect the given shape in the diagonal line.

Draw and reflect a quadrilateral.
Draw and reflect a right-angled triangle.
Draw and reflect a shape with two right angles.
Draw and reflect a shape with one set of parallel lines.
Draw and reflect a pentagon.
Draw and reflect an isosceles triangle.

Attachment 15.1 – Build a kaleidoscope – instructions

Materials to build a kaleidoscope

Materials needed

  • Permanent marker
  • Ruler and scissors
  • Mirror board
  • Tape
  • Clear plastic sheet
  • Toothpicks

Instructions (step by step)

  1. Cut the mirror board into three strips, each one 3cm wide.
  2. Fold the three pieces into a triangular prism, with the mirror side facing inwards. Tape these together, by winding tape around the outside.
  3. You may like to decorate your kaleidoscope at this stage.
  4. Tape a toothpick to the outside of your kaleidoscope, with about 1cm poking past one of the ends.
  5. Cut a circle, a little bit larger than the end of your kaleidoscope, out of the clear plastic sheet. Decorate the circle with permanent markers. It is best to make it very colourful, with lots of different shapes on it.
  6. Poke the toothpick through the middle of your coloured circle, so that the circle now covers the end of your kaleidoscope and can be turned around.
  7. Hold your kaleidoscope up to the light and look through the uncovered end, spinning your circle around to form patterns reflected on the mirror.
Step 6 – the coloured circle attached to the end of the prism
Step 7 – looking into the kaleidoscope
Step 2 – the pieces of mirror board folded into a triangular prism
Step 5 – the plastic circle decorated with permanent markers

Attachment 16.1 – Mirror, mirror – worksheet

Write one 'I think ...' statement and one 'I feel ...' statement on the mirror below.

What do mirrors reflect to us?

What do mirrors not reflect?

Why is it important to know the difference between what mirrors reflect and don't reflect?

Attachment 17.1 – Media distorts reality too! – worksheet

When you walk past the magazines on the rack at the supermarket, or see a music video clip filled with beautiful people, you are not always seeing people for who they really are. Our pages and screens are covered with pictures of models and celebrities in bikinis and tiny outfits. Singers like Taylor Swift and Beyonce always have incredible outfits, hair and makeup. The models in the magazines always seem to have super long legs and very skinny waists. They usually look perfect!

Angelina Jolie already looked beautiful before her image was altered.

We are always seeing images of people, men and women, famous or not, who look perfect. Sometimes it is too perfect and that is often thanks to photo editing tools.  Before a photo makes it onto our screens or magazines, waists can be made to look smaller, pimples can be erased and legs can even be made longer!

When we see people who look perfect all the time, we sometimes feel a little bit sad that we don’t look like that. Studies have shown that looking at fashion magazines and models can have a negative effect on people’s self-esteem.

Even photos of friends on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are too perfect, thanks to flattering filters and selfie editing tools.

The good news is, some people, including some celebrities, are fighting back! They are trying to get magazines and television shows to use more realistic images and people. Many celebrities are now posting pictures of themselves without makeup and Photoshopping, so that people know what they really look like.

It is important we stop pretending that everybody needs to look the same, and that there is one idea of what is beautiful. Everybody is beautiful in their own unique way.

Attachment 18.1 – I am more than what you see – activity

Today you are going to be creating an artwork that reflects YOU – both the person that people can see, and the person that they cannot see.

We will start by working out who you really are on the inside.

Write 'ME' in the middle of this page and answer the teacher’s questions, writing your answers all over the page, around the word 'ME', in whatever way you want.

Attachment 18.2 – I am more than what you see – examples

Attachment 19.1 – What is contemporary dance?

Contemporary dance came about because some dancers were tired of the strict rules in classical ballet. They wanted to be able to move more and try different styles.

It became more popular in London in the 1950s and 1960s and spread around the world.

Contemporary dance includes techniques from a lot of other styles. It includes the leg work from ballet, the floor work and falls from modern dance and the use of the body in jazz dance.

Contemporary dance is always changing and taking on new ideas.

Some of the key features of contemporary dance are:

  • a lot of balancing poses and tilts
  • the weight of the body used with gravity to move between poses
  • ‘in balance’, when the body is still
  • ‘tilt’, when the body is off balance
  • a big emphasis on floor work, using gravity to pull you to the floor
  • is usually done in bare feet
  • fluid dance movements.

You are going to watch a video, showing a contemporary dance routine called 'Land of All'. Whilst watching, see if you can spot examples of the key features above.

What did you notice during this dance? Did it make sense to you? Did you enjoy it? Explain your answer.

Attachment 20.1 – Contemporary dance – composition rubric

4 Points
3 Points
2 Points
1 Point

0 Points
Participated in entire dance
Participated in most of the dance
Participated in some of the dance
Participated in very little of the dance
Did not participate
Used many balances skilfully
Used many balances
Used some balances
Used one balance
Did not have a balance
Used many falls skilfully
Used many falls
Used some falls
Used one fall
Did not have a fall
Used many leans skilfully
Used many leans
Used some leans
Used one lean
Did not have a lean
Used very fluid movement throughout
Used many fluid movements
Used some fluid movements
Used limited fluid movement
Did not use fluid movement
Reflected confusion convincingly
Reflected confusion
Attempted to reflect confusion
Little reflection of confusion
Did not reflect confusion
Between one and two minutes
About one minute
Less than one minute

Total marks (out of 27):

Attachment 21.1 – What is a metaphor?

A metaphor is a trick that writers use, to compare two things that have something in common. We use them to try to make an impact on the reader.

For example, a parent might say to a child, 'You are my sunshine!' They don’t mean that the child actually provides sunshine for them. They mean that the child brings warmth and happiness to their day, just like the sun does.

Another parent might say about their child, 'Max is a pig when he eats!' This gives the reader a clear image of how messy Max is when eating. He isn’t really a pig, but he makes just as big a mess.

There is another trick that is like a metaphor, called a simile. In a simile, you compare two things, but you use the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ to compare. For example, the parent might say, 'You are as sweet as a lollipop'.  

A metaphor is a stronger image than a simile and makes the reader feel or see something to help them understand. It states that something is equal to something else; it is not just a comparison between two things.

Some metaphors are easy to understand, like the ones above, but others are tricky and you have to think about them to understand what the author is saying.

Here are some other great examples of metaphors:

  • It's raining cats and dogs.
  • He tried to help but his legs were rubber.
  • Mary's hair was a fierce lion's mane; always sticking out in wild directions.
  • My teacher is a dragon!
  • Life is a rollercoaster.

See if you can come up with some metaphors of your own, to describe your classroom, family or one of your friends.

Attachment 22.1 – ‘Once Upon a December’ – lyrics

Once Upon a December

by Lyn Ahrens, David Newman and Stephen Flaherty

Dancing bears, painted wings
Things I almost remember,
And a song that someone sings,
Once upon a December.

Someone holds me safe and warm,
Horses prance through a silver storm,
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory.

Far away, long ago,
Glowing dim as an ember,
Things my heart used to know,
Things it yearns to remember.

And a song, someone sings,
Once upon a December

Attachment 23.1 – 'This is Me’ – lyrics

This is Me

by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

I am not a stranger to the dark
'Hide away,' they say
'Cause we don’t want your broken parts.'
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars.
'Run away,' they say,
No one’ll love you as you are.

But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place or us
For we are glorious.

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down,
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.
I am brave, I am bruised,
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.
Look out ‘cause here I come,
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum.
I’m not scared to be seen,
I make no apologies. This is me!

Another round of bullets hits my skin.
Well, fire away, ‘cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in.
We are bursting through the barricades,
And reaching for the sun (we are warriors),
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become.
Won’t let them break me down to dust.
I know that there’s a place for us,
For we are glorious.

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down,
Gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.
I am brave, I am bruised,
I am who I’m meant to be. This is me!
Look out ‘cause here I come,
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum.
I’m not scared to be seen,
I make no apologies. This is me!

And I know that I deserve your love.
There’s nothing I’m not worthy of.
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down,
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.
This is brave, this is bruised,
This is who I’m meant to be. This is me!

Look out ‘cause here I come,
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum.
I’m not scared to be seen,
I make no apologies. This is me!

Attachment 24.1 – ‘I am ...’ – poem prompt

I am …

I am …

I am …

I am …

I am … (metaphor)

I am …

I am …

I am …

I am …

I am … (metaphor)

I am …

I am …

I am …

I am …

I am … (metaphor)

Attachment 24.2 – ‘I am …’ – poem rubric

4 points
3 points
2 points
1 point

0 points
Poem includes thoughtful ideas
Poem includes standard ideas
Poem includes basic ideas
Poem includes few ideas
Did not complete
Poem includes 3 well-constructed metaphors
Poem includes 3 simple metaphors or 2 well-constructed metaphors
Poem includes 2 simple or 3 basic metaphors
Poem includes limited metaphors
Does not include metaphors
Poem is presented with correct spelling and neat handwriting
Poem is presented with correct spelling
Poem contains some spelling mistakes and is hard to read
Poem contains spelling mistakes and is difficult to read
Poem was not presented in a published form.

Attachment 26.1 – Max’s story

At Schools Spectacular, Max went on a journey through the circus. Sometimes he was having a good time, sometimes he was confused.

How is that similar to our own lives?

How did the dancers and musicians show how Max was feeling without actually telling us?

Did you notice any contemporary dance techniques in the segment? What were they?

Do you think that Max enjoyed the circus? Why or why not?

Find out more about The Arts Unit Digital Engagement

Back to Home