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Musical Reinforces Classroom Lessons and Models How to Be a Friend

Complete with singing and dancing, A Place to Be, a Leesburg-based children’s theater and music therapy center, presented “Five Ways to Make a Friend” to kindergarten through second-grade students at Waterford Elementary on Thursday, Nov. 2. This 30-minute play models how to be a friend through easy-to-remember songs about sharing, being kind, including others, accepting others as they are, and even love – not the mushy kind of love that makes a seven-year-old squirm, but learning about the likes and interests of others and finding commonality. 

LCPS, which has partnered with A Place to Be on previous projects, has invited the theater company to provide this theatrical instruction to preschool through second-grade elementary students. The goal of the play is to help young students, many of whom are in school for the first time, learn about developing friendships. The hope is that after watching this play, the students will be able to demonstrate the new skills.

In the play, four actors playing the roles of young students talk with their teacher about how to be a friend. A Place to Be Associate Community Director Dan Miller played the part of the teacher. In this role, he encouraged and supported the “students” and engaged with the actual students in the audience, asking them about a time they shared something and their interests.

A Place to Be collaborated with the LCPS Office of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support to create the play. Since September, the troupe has been visiting LCPS elementary schools and sharing their message about friendship with LCPS’ youngest students. 

Dr. Lindsay Orme, LCPS Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator, worked with A Place to Be’s creative team and said the play was created as a fun way to help teach students valuable skills, specifically how to be a friend. 

“When asked, many of our teachers are finding friendship skills to be an area where students need the most support. The show highlights the same skills taught in the classroom and provides a fun way for teachers to reinforce with their students how to make and maintain friendships. The music and interactive components of the show truly capture the students’ attention, which adds fun to the learning and helps them remember the friendship strategies so they may apply them beyond the assembly.” 

“We are having a blast,” said Miller, who, in addition to playing a role in the play, wrote many of the songs. “To see this type of learning brought to life is very exciting. After seeing the play, I hope the students can later recall the five ways to be a friend. I also hope they take away joy from this play – and that it really drives home the message that connecting with people and being a friend is important.”

In addition to the play, A Place to Be provides parents with a link to the songs and provides teachers with some lessons to help reinforce the play’s message.

Published November 20, 2023