5 - Fairtrade Dance-Drama
The children create a Fairtrade dance in this lesson to tell the story of a sugar farming community which wants their sugar to be Fairtrade.
This lesson plan links to Curriculum aims and programmes of study in Physical Education & Dance and Music, and to non-statutory programmes of study in Citizenship and PSHE.
To speak clearly and explain a story through drama.
Children have used drama to tell a story of a sugar farming community becoming involved in Fairtrade.
Percussion instruments, a large space such as a hall.
Ask the class to describe what they perceive to be the stages a sugar farming community in the developing world goes through when getting involved in Fairtrade. Why would they get involved in Fairtrade in the first place? What problems might they come up against? What might they have to do to get the Fairtrade mark on their products? How might selling Fairtrade products help their community? Some ideas are outlined below but the teachers' notes provide further information:
1. Initially, everyone is working individually on small plots of land, alone or with only their family to help. They can only grow small amounts of sugar and there is no training available to help them to learn how to grow more crops. They can't afford many tools to help and sometimes floods or droughts ruin their crops too.
2. The buyers take advantage of the small farmers. They know that no one else will buy their sugar and that the farmers will have to sell it to them, so the buyers only pay very small and unfair amounts of money for the sugar.
3. The buyers don't pay on time so the farmers can’t afford to send their children to school.
4. The farmers begin to work together (co-operate).
5. By working together they have a larger amount of sugar cane to sell and have more power, so they can sell it for more money.
6. Farmers form a 'co-operative'. Once they have formed a co-operative, the farmers can work together to learn about how to make their sugar Fairtrade, e.g. Fairtrade sugar farmers have to be careful that they aren't using any chemicals which may harm the environment and that there are no children being forced to work on the farms.
7. Once their sugar has been awarded the 'Fairtrade Mark', the co-operative works together and sells their sugar cane to companies that want to sell Fairtrade sugar. (note that Traidcraft may begin working with and buying from a group prior to certification in order to support them to achieve certification).
8. Fairtrade companies like Traidcraft seek to be fairer than other buyers and may pay in advance for some of the sugar. They also pay the Fairtrade Premium in addition to the fair price for the product.
9. The farmers are able to use the Fairtrade premium to improve their community by digging boreholes, buying machinery, installing electricity or anything else the group chooses.
Explain to the class that they will be telling the story of how and why a community becomes involved in Fairtrade through dance-drama, which is a performance method used in Malawi involving mime and percussion instruments. Split the class into groups of 5 or 6. Explain that initially you will call out each stage and as a group they mime the actions you’re describing without speaking. If working with younger children they can mimic yours.
When you go through it for the second time, give each group a percussion instrument or drum. Explain that in Malawi they are used to create atmosphere and add to the performance. Discuss with the class examples of different beats/sounds and how they represent emotions.
E.g. a slow soft beat could illustrate toil, tiredness, unhappiness; a short drum roll of 3 beats could indicate desperation or impatience; a quicker beat might indicate excitement, the beginning of something new etc.
Run through the stages with the percussion added.
Finally, remind the class that it is a dance-drama performance. As well as miming and using percussion, discuss with the groups how they can make their movements more fluid. This might include slowing actions like digging, or cutting sugar cane down and doing them in unison or when “co-operating” holding hands and dancing around in a circle.
Run through the performance a third time incorporating all of the elements.
Ask each group tell you what the benefits are to farmers when they form co-operatives to sell their sugar.