Acting Out “The Way Back Home”

Today at meeting we acted out The Way Back Home (by Oliver Jeffers). We had read the book several times at meeting and also a couple times during snack, upon request, so the children were very familiar with the plot and nuances. At first children were tentative; when Mark asked around the circle who wanted to be the person flying the airplane, only Saige and Caroline volunteered. Then more children volunteered to be the alien/martian, and once we began acting out the story more and more children jumped in. Eventually the stage spontaneously became the moon where the airplane and spaceship crashed down, each with its own problem (airplane out of gas; spaceship with engine trouble), and then the stage became the spaceship itself, with children hanging over the side working on the engine with imaginary tools.

In case you haven’t seen the book, here are a few pages
to help give a sense of what the children are acting out above:
(this page is from earlier in the book)

Airplanes and vehicles in general have been a theme in dramatic play throughout the year, making The Way Back Home a compelling book. What is more, it incorporates swimming through the ocean, something that has also commonly occurred in their enactments of boat play, as they have dived into the water and “swum” on the carpet together. The book has also brought up other considerations: What happens when you need to be rescued? How do you solve a problem together? How exactly do you get dressed before flying an airplane? During open play on Wednesday, the stage turned into a boat, a submarine, and an airplane in turns. When Cal said gleefully that he was jumping off the airplane in mid-flight, Mark became “dramatically” concerned – Don’t do it! It’s dangerous to jump out of a flying airplane! Then Mark reminded Cal of what the boy on the moon did in the story – he used a parachute to get to earth. Cal quickly put a pop tube around his waist for his parachute, and others soon caught on. When Ruthie had trouble getting her pop tube on, Cal and Travers were eager to help. When Caroline was crying out “Help! Help!” from the water, Kaya, Travers, Will and Thomas pulled her out.