Canadian History Theatre Piece

Lesson intended for: Grades 5 through 10

What the students will learn: Through the art of theatre, students will learn about some of the most significant events in Canadian history. The lesson will also teach them invaluable public speaking skills as they will have to present their piece to the class. This is a great activity because students will have an opportunity to learn about Canadian history in a fun and interactive way.

Lesson description:

  • The lesson can be customized. Depending on the number of students, you can choose the size and the number of groups.
  • The purpose of the lesson is to assign each group of students a period or an event in Canadian history and have them build a theatre piece based on it.
  • Students will have time to work together in class to plan the theatre piece, do the appropriate research and practise. Be sure to suggest props found around the house (with parental permission) and in the classroom, as well as costumes.
  • Students should create theatre pieces that are about 10 minutes.
  • Midway through the activity, teachers should check on the groups to see if their pieces are coming along well. Make sure the students know this so that they don’t wait until the last minute to start working.
  • Once the students have created and practised their pieces, they will have to present them in front of the class.
  • Students should also be given the option of choosing their own piece of history to present to the class (which must be approved by the teacher).

Approximate allotted class time: (approximately 3½ hours in class/3 hours at home)

  • Explanation to class and distribution of topics {½ hour}
  • Question-and-answer period {10 minutes}
  • Time to work on the projects in class {½ hour per day/3 days}
  • Part of this project should be assigned as homework or even group work to be completed outside of the classroom.
  • Teachers should check on students to make sure the theatre pieces are coming along well {10 minutes}
  • Theatre piece presentation day {1 hour}

Suggested Theatre Pieces:

Laura Secord was a Canadian war heroine. She is known for warning British forces of an impending American attack, which led to the British victory at the Battle of Beaver Dams during the war of 1812. Students can re-enact the night when Laura Secord warned the British troops.

Dr. Emily Howard Stowe was the first female doctor to practise in Canada and one of the first women to fight for equal rights. Students could portray the hardships and victories that Emily faced on her path to becoming a doctor.

First railway opens in Canada. Canada’s first railway, the Champlain and Saint Lawrence Railroad, officially opened on July 21, 1836. The railway heralded the most important change in transportation in Canadian history. Students could show what it took to build Canada’s first railway.

Terry Fox run begins. Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980, the object of which was to raise awareness and money for cancer research. The run ended on September 1 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, after cancer was detected in Terry’s lungs. Just days after it had begun, the marathon had already collected over $10 million.

Insulin is isolated by Banting and Best. Frederick Banting and Charles Best were the first scientists to isolate insulin at the University of Toronto on July 27, 1921. The first diabetes patient was treated on January 11, 1922. Banting received the Nobel Prize for his achievement. Students can re-enact the discovery of insulin.

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