Our Community: In Schools

Chicago Children’s Theatre in-school residencies leverage the theatre arts to build confidence and boost academic achievement, offering educators unique strategies to address pressing challenges young people face today. Our curriculum draws from Common Core Standards in Literacy, Writing, and Communication, Illinois Arts Standards in Social Emotional Learning and Theatre, and National Standards for Theatre Education.

Educator Professional Development

We know that each school day and each subject within that day is enhanced by the addition of arts-based learning. An important component of all CCT residencies is the professional development we provide to educators. Our highly trained teaching artists pass their skills and knowledge on to classroom teachers to ensure the techniques and activities continue to be utilized even after our programming ends. Professional development trainings are built into residency sessions, and CCT will periodically hold half- or full-day p.d. opportunities on specific topics, reaching over 100 educators each year.

General Education Residencies

CCT Residencies are tailored to the interests and needs of the communities we serve. Neighborhood interviews, myths, folktales, and fables provide a jumping off point for students to contextualize their own stories while learning skills in directing, performance, and design. Our baseline curriculum allows us to integrate and reinforce academic instruction, including subjects in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). We work with over 1,000 students in pre-k through 12th grade each year; 92% of our school partners are returning partners; and three-quarters of students report a CCT residencies carry over into positive effects for their community.

CCT residencies are for all learners. Theatre education is effective across learning styles and can strongly benefit students with emotional needs, attention needs, learning disabilities, or language needs. CCT’s teaching artists adhere to guidelines from the National Standards for Theatre Education, with the following goals/student benefits:

  • Leveraging literacy skills;
  • Improving proficiency in writing and math;
  • Enhancing visual analysis skills and creative thinking;
  • Accessing individual, different learning styles;
  • Exhibiting greater control of body and emotions;
  • Promoting positive communication and conflict resolution skills;

Takeaways from student participants

  • “Working as a team you can pull anything off.”
  • “You should involve everyone.”
  • “Before, I was nervous. Now, I want to do it all over again.”
  • “I felt great dancing in front of everyone.”
  • “I feel more confident.”
  • “I learned that you should let your voice be heard.”
  • “I learned to take peoples ideas and combine them.”
  • “Be loud and brave.”
  • “I won’t have to be as nervous around other people.”
  • “It will help me be more open to others and work with others more.”

Red Kite Residencies

Each year, Red Kite Drama Time residencies serve hundreds of students and CPS educators in over 20 special education classrooms. Red Kite Drama Time is an adaptive theater program for young people on the autism spectrum and other neurodiverse learners. The primary pillar of our curriculum is social-emotional learning, utilizing sensory drama games to engage each student’s ability to work within a group and explore their emotional expressivity and understanding. Our classes engage in creative play and sensory experiences to encourage students to connect with their unique body, voice, imagination, and with the community around them. This program is inclusive for children without language and limited mobility.

Takeaways from Educators

  • “My students looked forward to Red Kite each week. They were able to explore their emotions and expressiveness in a safe space guided by caring adults.”
  • “Drama Time helps teach basic functional skills while the students are having fun and are engaged. I would reference paying attention to others, even when it’s not the student’s turn. It was also valuable being the “assistant” to the Drama Time teaching artists so I could model prompting for my paraprofessionals.”
  • “Having the students follow a routine that included fun activities to help the students learn different concepts (waiting, listening, being calm, thinking for one’s self, and sharing) with their fellow classmates.”
  • “To see a particular student of mine opening up; his willingness to participate and to use his imagination, which I’ve never seen before, was a positive moment of discovering the value and the impact of this program on my students. THANK YOU!”
  • “After being involved in Red Kite, one of my students started to develop an interest in performing in front of his peers. This increased his confidence and social skills.”
  • “A new student to the school who has significant behaviors and is very rigid was able to show drama skills and participate happily in the program.”
  • “I think seeing my students with visual impairments know what to do next and knowing the routine of drama time. They also showed that they memorized the songs by singing them during and after drama time.”
  • “The program exceeded my expectations. They knew how to connect with my students. My students’ enjoyed every minute of it and they memorized the schedule of activities and knew when the session was coming to an end so they would get disappointed. My students’ reactions at each session spoke volumes.”
  • “I really liked how the presenters put the effort in getting to know each of my students. How they felt comfortable with really and truly joining in with my class and taking part in every aspect of the activities (especially movement). How they encouraged my students’ and gave them multiple chances because they believed in them.”
  • “This program completely exceeded my expectations. The games had such a deeper purpose in teaching skills that are difficult for students with autism to master. As a teacher, I was impressed with the creativity of the games and the thought put into the skills taught.”
  • “I loved the curriculum. Even after the residency ended, we continued to do the red kite program schedule because the students loved it so much.”

CCT’s residencies are supported by longstanding partner, the Polk Bros Foundation.

Learn more about current In-School Residency and Red Kite Residency offerings.

Support Chicago Children’s Theatre by Making a Donation Now.

If you have questions about CCT’s general education residency programming please contact our Director of Education & Community Programs, Dexter Ellis, at dexter@chicagochildrenstheatre.org or by calling (312) 374-8828.

If you have questions regarding Red Kite residency programming, please contact our Inclusive Education & Programs Manager, Sara Perry, at sperry@chicagochildrenstheatre.org or by calling (312) 374-8829.

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