Act!vated Story Theatre

Study Guide for Tops and Bottoms

School Assemblies > Multicultural Folktale Show > Study Guide > Tops and Bottoms

Study guide for grade: pre-K/K | 1st | 2nd | 3rd |[PDF format]

"Tops and Bottoms" toured to schools in 2013-2014. Study guides for each grade level are provided to support Common Core State Standards. The activities provided are for follow-up after the show. To prepare students for the performance visit the Study Guide main page in advance. This web page provides links to resource materials to use in conjunction with the lesson plans.

On this page: About the Show | About the Story | About the Cast | Standards Addressed | Resource Materials

Fox reading Aesop Fables

About the Cast:

Kimberly Goza: Fox

Dennis Goza: Bear

Sets and costumes by Kimberly; music and script by Dennis; props by Dennis and Kimberly.

In perpetual motion both on and off stage, Dennis and Kimberly Goza comprise a husband and wife team who’ve worked together 1988. They drive across the continental U.S. year-round in an RV calling wherever they park “home”. On stage they are a whirlwind of action, incorporating a wide variety of performance art skills to entertain, educate and dazzle. Dennis writes the scripts and composes the music for the shows. Kimberly sews the pages for the giant book, makes the costumes and directs.

About the Show

Tops and Bottoms is a retelling of the Scandinavian version of a tale that has appeared in many different forms and cultures, going all the way back to Aesop. It's a classic example of a trickster tale, with one animal (in this case a fox) outwitting another (in this case a bear) in the choice of which part of a crop to take – the tops or the bottoms.

The bullying Bear insists that the Fox is trespassing on his land, though the Fox has a deed to it. So the sly Fox makes the Bear an offer he can't refuse about how to share the land and the food it produces.

The presentation style for this story is inspired in part by Warner Brothers’ cartoons, particularly The Road Runner, which in turn is inspired by Native American trickster tales involving the character known as Coyote Trickster. To emphasize the cartoonish nature of this interpretation, some parts of the story are enacted in pantomime to music. The performers also use a great deal of slapstick involving comically exaggerated props.

About the Story

The story called Tops and Bottoms has been around in some form, under many different names, at least since Aesop. The online collection of folktales compiled by D.L. Ashliman of the University of Pittsburgh lists 13 versions from many different cultures.

Tops and Bottoms is an example of a trickster tale, which as the name suggests, involves one character getting the better of the other by trickery. The trickster is generally a character who is smaller or weaker. In this case, that means a smaller animal (fox) tricking one that is much larger (bear). In many trickster tales (including many versions of this story) the trickster is a rabbit, which is even smaller than a fox. Rabbit trickster tales were popular in the African-American slave culture, from which the Janet Stevens version is derived. The Leslie Conger book is inspired more by the German version, in which the characters are human: a farmer and a demon or troll. Among certain Native American tribes, the Coyote Trickster is a frequently recurring character – note that the coyote is a cousin to the fox – who tries to trick other animals, but usually ends up on the short end of things.

Common Core Standards Addressed

Kindergarten Standards

SG for K
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.2 With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.3 With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.1a Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.2 Confirm understanding of information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.4 Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
  • Grade K-4 Theater Standard 2 Acting by assuming roles and interacting in improvisations
    - Students imagine and clearly describe characters, their relationships, and their environments
    - Students use variations of locomotor and nonlocomotor movement and vocal pitch, tempo, and tone for different characters
    - Students assume roles that exhibit concentration and contribute to the action of classroom dramatizations based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history

Study Guide for Pre-K/Kindergarten - 7 pages (PDF)

1st Grade Standards

click for study guide for 1st
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.3 Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.9 Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1a Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.2 Ask and answer questions about key details in information presented orally or through other media.
  • Grade K-4 Theater Standard 2 Acting by assuming roles and interacting in improvisations
    - Students imagine and clearly describe characters, their relationships, and their environments
    - Students use variations of locomotor and nonlocomotor movement and vocal pitch, tempo, and tone for different characters
    - Students assume roles that exhibit concentration and contribute to the action of classroom dramatizations based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history

Study Guide for 1st grade - 11 pages (PDF)

2nd Grade Standards

study guide for 2nd grade
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.2  Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.5 Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action .
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.6 Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.9 Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story by different authors or from different cultures.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.2 Recount or describe key ideas or details from information presented orally or through other media.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.5 Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Grade K-4 Theater Standard 2 Acting by assuming roles and interacting in improvisations
    - Students imagine and clearly describe characters, their relationships, and their environments
    - Students use variations of locomotor and nonlocomotor movement and vocal pitch, tempo, and tone for different characters
    - Students assume roles that exhibit concentration and contribute to the action of classroom dramatizations based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history

Study Guide for 2nd grade - 11 pages (PDF)

3rd Grade Standards

study guide for 3rd grad
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)
  • Grade K-4 Theater Standard 2 Acting by assuming roles and interacting in improvisations
    - Students imagine and clearly describe characters, their relationships, and their environments
    - Students use variations of locomotor and nonlocomotor movement and vocal pitch, tempo, and tone for different characters
    - Students assume roles that exhibit concentration and contribute to the action of classroom dramatizations based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history

Study Guide for 3rd grade - 11 pages (PDF)

Resource Materials

NOTE: Click photo for link to full scale image suitable for download and classroom display (.jpg or .png). Thumbnails are presented below.

For ASL Act!vity - Identify the Main Characters (K-3):

American Sign Language for Bearsigning FoxFox signs fox

"Why ASL?" Interview with the performers.

For Drawing Activity (K-1):

carrotsstrawberries with roots corn
Carrots on the set
Strawberries on the setCorn on the set

For Comparing Stories Act!vity (2):

For the Story of the Teddy Bear (3):

Bear patting Teddy Roosevelt stuffy

http://www.nps.gov/thrb/historyculture/storyofteddybear.htm