First and second graders at Verndale Elementary in Verndale, Minnesota got a big surprise when they came into their classroom — a real, live, clown was there standing at the front of the room!
No, not the scary kind of clown with giant shoes and a big red nose. This was a very different kind of clown. He carried a brown briefcase, and his hair was kind of wild. This clown was COMPAS Teaching Artist Benjamin Domask, there to teach them the art of “clowning”. "What is a Clown?" He asked. "Funny! Weird! Awkward!" some of the children called out.
Benjamin worked with first grade students in the morning, and second grade students in the afternoon. Each grade level had its own unique needs so he adjusted his curriculum to best fit the needs of that class. After all, nobody improvises better than a clown!
Benjamin taught students the basics of mime alongside a lesson on the history of mime in Greece and Italy. A lesson in juggling became a way to teach movement and scale. Students also learned some new vocabulary words: Illusion, Corporeal, and Commedia del Arte.
Benjamin helped students developed the confidence to speak up in class through a simple question: Tell me a joke! As he explained, “First and Second graders have the BEST jokes.” What a fun way for Minnesota students to learn!