Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Lesson Plans: Activities Related to Stage Musical & Film

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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, draws its story from the (Old Testament) book of Genesis: Jacob gives his favorite son, Joseph, a gloriously-colored coat, which incites the jealousy of the other 11 sons.  Eventually, when they can stand Joseph (and his dreams) no more, they sell him into slavery, telling Jacob that Joseph is dead.  Joseph ends up in Egypt, where his ability to interpret dreams eventually wins for him the notice and favor of Pharaoh.  As famine strikes the land, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to beg for food from an important man they do not recognize–the very brother they once wronged.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was the first collaborative work by the now-famous duo of Webber and Rice  to be performed publicly, though in a much abbreviated form—about 15 minutes worth of music, commissioned for an English boys choir to perform near Easter 1968.  Though well- received, and reworked  multiple times, Joseph needed the tremendous success of Jesus Christ Superstar a couple years later before it would be fully transformed and expanded into the musical we see today.  One early cast member, Michael Garcia, reflects on what he saw of that process: My Memories of “Joseph…” [an original cast member reflects on Rice/Webber/Waring’s amazing technicolor musical]

The DVD film version, starring Donny Osmond, was released in 1999.


  1. English (Literature & Writing)
  2. Math
  3. Social Studies (Geography & History)
  4. Science & Health
  5. Art
  6. Music


ENGLISH (Literature & Writing)

1.1. You know Joseph’s most prized possession; what is yours? Write a description of your Favorite Object, and explain why it is so valued or precious to you.

1.2. Jacob and his brother Esau were once rivals, and now Jacob’s sons illustrate some serious Sibling Rivalry.  Describe a time when you felt jealous of a brother or sister—or when he/she was jealous of you.  What did you do about it?  Or how did your sibling(s) behave toward you?  Consider reading another literary work depicting sibling rivalry, such as the brother rivalry between Cain and Abel, sons of Adam & Eve, in the Book of Genesis, or the sister rivalry in Katharine Paterson’s appropriately-named Jacob Have I Loved.  In a lighter work, a preteen brother & sister compete in Jacqueline Davies’  The Lemonade War, and learn some basic economic & marketing lessons along the way.

(Jane Austen’s novels also involve a number of sister-pairs competing for the same male’s attention, as in Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park.  Fanny Price, in Mansfield Park, also comes from a large family, as does Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey— see the next question 1.3 below!  Would you say that the Bennetts, a family of five daughters in Pride & Prejudice, is a “large family”?)

1.3. Large Families:  Jacob boasts a family of 12 sons.  The number of children typical to families of different places & times can vary greatly.  How many children do you think makes a large, or larger than normal, family?  What is the largest family you know?

Interview one or more members of a large family, to learn what they would consider the challenges and rewards of being part of a large family.

Read more about a famous “large” family from history, such as Benjamin Franklin’s family, or that of England’s Queen Victoria & Prince Albert;  the real story of the Von Trapps; or Cheaper by the Dozen.  (See also Jane Austen note 1.2, above.)  Consider vintage TV shows like The WaltonsEight is Enough, and The Brady Bunch, and the 1970s(?)-era TV special “Who are the DeBolts and Where did they get 19 Kids?” (some were adopted).  Then compare these with contemporary reality shows featuring (Jon &) Kate plus Eight, the Duggars (19 Kids and Counting), and now the Gil & Kelly Bates family (also with 19 biological kids).

Why do you think people are so interested in stories and shows about large families?

1.4. Write out a memorable Dream that you have had; what do you think it means?

Research Dream Interpretation, to see how others might try to interpret the dream.

Research and write a brief report about another individual or culture emphasizing the importance of dreams. (Ex. Native-American tribes with dream and/or vision rituals; the psychology of Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung; the Tibetan Book of the Dead; an artist who writes or paints from dreams.)

1.5. The Joseph musical, though not written as a mystery tale, includes at least three apparent crimes:  the human-trafficking of Joseph, covered-up by an alleged death-by-goat;  the false assault charge made by Potiphar’s wife, which lands Joseph in jail;  and Joseph’s framing Benjamin for the theft of a golden cup.  Choose one of these crimes, and, considering the setting and milieu of the crime—either in Canaan or Egypt–  Create a detective who could investigate the crime.

Will it be a member of the household or tribe, or someone called in especially to investigate the incident? What sort of personality will this detective have?  (Consider carefully how other literary detectives function in their environments, such as Sherlock Holmes in Victorian London & its environs, or Brother Cadfael  in Medieval England. Who are your favorite “sleuths”? Nancy Drew, or the Hardy Boys? Lord Peter Wimsey? Father Brown? Hercule Poirot?)  Write a Character Description for your detective.  Take some Creative Liberties with the Joseph story:  Write a scene, or a short story, in which your new detective character investigates and/or solves the crime.

1.6. Adjectives—Marketing.  Who wouldn’t want an “Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”?!  It’s “astounding clothing,” the ultimate in design.  Joseph, the owner, gives his endorsement– he “loves [his] Coat of Many Colors,”  he looks “handsome” and “smart,” and feels he’s “a walking work of art.”  The envious brothers call him “the smoothest person in the district.”  And the list of colors/shades goes on and on!

Although the song’s combination of adjectives and personal testimonies/endorsements may seem difficult to top, try to Write Your Own, Original Advertisement for a multi-colored robe.  You can create a print ad, with text and/or graphics, suitable for a poster/flyer or magazine ad; or, you can develop an ad for a different medium—such as a radio ad (announcement, jingle), or an online ad in the form of a video clip.

Or, inspired by the Technicolor Dreamcoat, invent/imagine a different article of clothing or personal dress you would like to promote —and prepare an ad to create buzz for/ to sell your new clothing item.

1.7. Joseph’s brothers make up a Country & Western-style ‘Eulogy’ for Joseph, as consolation for bereaved father Jacob.  Explore the differences between an Obituary, a fairly objective death announcement also summarizing the deceased’s life—check the format used in your city or major city newspaper—and a Eulogy, which extols or praises the deceased’s personal character & life.  Practice writing both an Obituary and a Eulogy for an individual of your choice—for a friend or loved one who has passed away, or for a historical figure that interests you (you may need to do a little research to get all the information needed!).

If you feel comfortable, write the Obituary and/or Eulogy you hope would represent YOU someday; what would you hope people would think & say of you?

1.8. Discuss the Role of Providence in Joseph’s story.  How does Joseph’s story reveal that, despite his disappointments and sufferings, God was always watching over him and/or making all things work for good in the end.  Does Joseph seem to hold on to this belief throughout the story (for example, in “Close Every Door”)?  or does he go through a learning process of some sort?   How does the Narrator develop this theme?  Do you feel that the ending truly ennobles and/or makes up for the sufferings Joseph endured?

If we see Providence at work in Joseph’s ending  in a good place– just when & where he needs to be in order to save both Egypt and his family and achieve personal success– then who is responsible for the terrible wrong Joseph suffers at the beginning?  Was it Jacob, for his obvious favoritism?  Was Joseph’s own attitude and behavior to blame?  Was it the other brothers, for their envy, fraternal disloyalty, or… what would you call it? (Something they must regret or change by the end?)  Or must they be excused, because Joseph’s destiny demanded that he end up in Egypt– so they were necessary (albeit unknowing) instruments of a higher purpose?

How would you compare & contrast the Joseph musical, then, with Rice/Webber’s other “divine” work, Jesus Christ Superstar?  Do Jesus’ (the Superstar character’s) choices or approach contribute to what happens to him?  Do you place blame on Judas, or consider him a necessary (albeit unknowing) instrument of Jesus’ destiny?

Can you think of another story– book, play, movie– that shows the guidance or protection of a Higher Power at work, despite adversity or suffering?  (ex. M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Signs)

1.9. “Jacob’s Journey”:  This performance of Jacob’s life story was performed as companion to an earlier version of the Joseph musical.  So, go back to the Book of Genesis (27:1-37:1), and read about Jacob’s adventures before he had Joseph & 11 other sons— enacting his mother’s plan to steal for himself  his brother Esau’s birthright, wrestling an angel, working to gain Rachel for a bride (only to be tricked himself), etc..  Think about the Jacob who appears in the musical—and the Jacob who appears in the (Old Testament) Genesis stories:  Do they seem like the same Jacob? Or if they seem to differ, how are they different?

1.10. When we leave Joseph and his family at the end of the Book of Genesis, they seem only too happy to come to Egypt to live in peace and plenty. The beginning of the Book of Exodus, however, shows the Hebrews reduced to slave labor and longing for deliverance.  Whatever happened in the years between Joseph and Moses?!

1.11. Learn more about Medieval Cycle plays:  An earlier version of the Joseph musical was performed in conjunction with plays from the Wakefield Cycle.  The Wakefield Cycle and the York Corpus Christi Cycle are probably England’s most famous examples of this type of medieval theatre, in which the major events/stories of the Bible are enacted, over the course of a full day, on rolling wagon-sized stages that stop– & whose casts perform– at a series of stations along the prescribed route through the city. The residents of the city, then, need only stand at one station throughout the day and wait, as each pageant-wagon rolls up and delivers its performance, in order to see the Old & New Testaments.

York Corpus Christi Cycle Plays


1.12. Webber & Rice have developed modern musical retellings of old stories from the Bible (Joseph…Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar).  Award-winning playwright and poet Archibald MacLeish’s dramatic play J.B. is a modern retelling of the story of Job.  Read it.  How does the theme of Providence, and of the meaning of suffering, in this play seem to compare with Joseph?  Do you think these ‘updated’ versions, including modern words or modern music, remain true in spirit to the originals?

1.13. “One was a butler, the Jeeves of his time.”  Read about Jeeves for yourself in the books of P.G. Wodehouse (pronounced Wood-house).

1.14. “Just give me a number instead of my name …”  “Close Every Door,” Joseph’s mournful prison ballad, also evokes thoughts of the Holocaust/ Shoah, of the sufferings of the Children of Israel because of the Nazi Final Solution.   Read some Holocaust-related literature, whether non-fictional accounts like The Diary of Anne Frank, Elie Weisel’s Night,  and (Andrea Warren, for Jack Mendelbaum) Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps; or historical fiction like Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Claire Hutchet Bishop’s Twenty and Ten, Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars, Hilda van Stockum’s The Winged Watchman, and Jane Yolen’s Devil’s Arithmetic and (for mature readers) Briar Rose.

Visit Reeves Library at Seton Hill University, which has one room entirely dedicated to Holocaust-related books, media, and resources (courtesy of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education—which also provides speakers, and educational packets).

1.15. Because Joseph spends time in prison, locate and read other “Prison Lit”—works written during, or about, imprisonment.  Can you see any common elements or themes in these works?   (Examples written in prison:  MLK Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail;” Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy; St. Paul’s Letters to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; Cervantes’ Don Quixote; Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; The Travels of Marco Polo; similarly, Sir Walter Raleigh started writing The History of the World; over a dozen stories by O. Henry;  Richard Lovelace’s poem “To Althea, from Prison;” and unfortunately, Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf.’  Examples that dramatize imprisonment include plays like Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Sutton Vane’s Outward Bound, Maxwell Anderson’s Mary of Scotland, or Dale Wasserman’s Man of La Mancha.  Main characters are also jailed for part of  Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter; Hugo’s Les Miserables; Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers; Dickens’ Little Dorrit, Great Expectations, and  A Tale of Two Cities. )

1.16. Locate & read literary works with significant dreams—that is, the sleep-related kind.  Many characters are famous sleepers (Sleeping Beauty; Rip van Winkle; etc.), but try to find cases in which we know the content of the dream (as when Alice dreams Wonderland, the Brothers Karamazov “sometimes dream of devils,” or Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)!

(Examples:  Gospel of Matthew account of The Flight to Egypt—An angel warns Joseph, in a dream, to take Mary & baby Jesus and flee, because Herod is after the baby.  But in Homer’s Iliad, Zeus tricks King Agamemnon in a dream, which tells him to advance Achilles.  See also Mercutio’s “Queen Mab” speech from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Clarence and Richard have anxiety-dreams in Richard II, Calpurnia dreams bad omens in Julius Caesar, and sleepwalking Lady Macbeth sees blood on her hands.  In Poetry:  Eve’s dream in Books 4 & 5 of Milton’s Paradise Lost.  Keats, “La Belle Dame sans Merci;” Yeats, “The Cloths of Heaven;” Sarojini Naidu, “Cradle Song;” and—very child-friendly– Eugene Field, “The Sugar-Plum Tree” and “Wynken, Blynken and Nod.”  And depending on how you interpret a “dream,” Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.”)

(Examples from the Dream Vision tradition in literature:  Cicero’s Dream of Scipio; Anonymous, The Dream of the Rood; Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls; the “aisling” genre of 17thC Irish poetry; John Henry Newman’s “Dream of Gerontius”—the prayer of dying man amidst angelic and demonic voices—which also inspired a choral work by Elgard.  Finally, consider the duelling  dreamworks of William Morris—The Dream of John Ball, with a positive, progressive view of Medieval society—and Mark Twain, who slams the Middle Ages in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.)

(Examples from Fantasy/ SF:  Ray Bradbury’s “The Last Night of the World.”  Maybe Phillip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (?);  Susan Cooper’s Greenwitch, the third book in The Dark is Rising series.  Robin McKinley’s The Hero and The Crown and The Blue Sword both portray a tribe in which visions/dreams are significant; a dream changes the course of action in Sunshine, but that novel is for mature teen/ adult readers. Numerous others for mature teen readers—Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game; Mercedes Lackey’s The Fairy Godmother; Laurell K. Hamilton’s Nightseer.)




2.1. If Potiphar counted 523 shekels before letting out a mighty roar, which accidentally knocked 230 of them to the floor, how many shekels were left on the table?

2.2. If the hairy Ishmaelites gave the brothers 30 pieces of silver to buy Joseph as a slave, and if Benjamin took none of them, how many coins would each remaining brother get as his share?

2.3. While Benjamin remains in Egypt, the others return to Canaan to get Jacob.  What fraction of Jacob’s sons were then in Egypt?  What percentage of sons would that be?

2.4. The “Also-Rans”:  Naphtali, Issachar, Asher, and Dan were in a race. Issachar finished ahead of Naphtali. Asher also finished ahead of Naphtali but did not win the race.  Issachar finished in third place.  Who won the race?

2.5.  Benjamin is less than 20 years old.  The sum of the two digits of his age is even. The difference of the two digits is zero. How old is Benjamin?

2.6. Joseph interpreted 51 dreams in 3 months of working for Pharaoh.  Each month he interpreted 2 more dreams than the month before. How many dreams did Joseph interpret in each of the three months?

2.7. Jacob and his 11 sons intend to relocate to Egypt.  Each man will bring 4 women with him, and each woman will bring 2 children.  If each adult needs a separate camel to ride, and two children can share a camel, how many camels total would be needed to transport the family to Egypt?

2.8.  Suppose the sum of the ages of Zebulon, Gad, and Benjamin is 32.  Zebulon’s age is twice that of Benjamin.  Gad is 3 years younger than Zebulon.  How old is Benjamin here?

2.9. Reuben and Simeon bring water with them as they go into the fields.  Reuben carries twice as many liters of water as Simeon.  If each brother uses 8 liters of water, then Simeon will have three times as many liters of water as Simeon has.  How many liters of water did each brother have to begin with?

2.10. Archeologists have discovered a small tomb in the shape of a right rectangular pyramid.  The base measures 16m on one side and 20m on another; the structure is 24m tall.  What is the volume of the pyramid?

The exterior was intended to be covered with a golden paint.  What is the lateral surface area of this pyramid?


SOCIAL STUDIES (Geography, History, Politics, Economics)


3.1. Create a map of Israel, then & now.  (Does it appear that the “Twelve Tribes of Israel,” named for the brothers, once inhabited an area of land much larger then the present-day borders of Israel?)

Learn more about the history & culture of Israel, then and/or now.

Research & discuss the social & political (& military) dilemma arising from the differing views of Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.

3.2. Create a map of Egypt, then & now.

Learn more about the history & culture of Egypt, then and/or now.

Consider a field-trip to, or “Night-time on the Nile” sleepover at, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh; enjoys its collection of ancient artifacts, its virtual tour of an Egyptian temple of Horus—and raid its gift shop for books on Egypt (including some we recommend below in Science and Art!).

Research & discuss the recent uprising and ousting of Hosni Mubarak (its causes & effects in Egypt, and possible implications for the rest of the Middle East).

3.3. Create a map of the Western United States (everything west of the Mississippi River).

Learn more about Cowboy culture: when and where was it important, in its heyday? Make a map showing the major routes of cattle drives.

3.4. “Raise your berets…”:  Create a map of France, and study a map of Paris in much more detail.  Learn more about French history & culture:  Try selecting  3 different regions– or departments, if you prefer– to compare.

3.5. Map the Caribbean Islands.  Learn about the history & culture of 2-3 different islands. Which islands show Spanish, French, or British influence?

Learn about the Carnival tradition, or ‘playing masque,’ in the islands (esp. Trinidad and Tobago).

3.6. Select and research a “noteworthy” Famine from history; note especially the causes which are man-made, rather than natural.  (Examples:  Ethiopia. Somalia.  British controlled Bengal [India] in the 1770s.  The Ukraine under Stalin.  19th-century Ireland’s Potato Famine [two memorable resources: Marita Conlon McKenna’s historical fiction Under the Hawthorn Tree, and the ‘pop-up’ book Life on a Famine Ship].)

3.7. Learn more about the history of Slavery.  (Consider researching & comparing two different societies– such as ancient Egypt or Rome versus China, or versus America in the 1700s/1800s; or the lives of imported African slaves in North vs. South America.  Consider modern trafficking, as in Asia, or the plight of domestic slaves in the Caribbean [“restavec”s].)

3.8. Inspired by Pharaoh, learn about the nature (the advantages & disadvantages) of  Monarchy, versus other forms of government.

3.9. Potiphar keeps & counts his shekels at home. Learn about the history/rise of banking, and about savings accounts (versus other accounts).  Potiphar also “made a fortune buying shares in pyramids”—so what are “shares,” and how do people make money buying and selling them?

3.10. “You could be spies, ” says Joseph to his grovelling brothers.  Research the history of Spying/Espionage.  Although Joseph probably implies some sort of international, political spying, don’t forget about corporate spying/ industrial espionage– which appears in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/ Willy Wonka musical & lesson plans.

3.11. “And now we miss his entertaining dreams.”:  What did people do for entertainment in the days before radio, before television, before console games, before personal and handheld computers?!  Do some research to find out.   Consider learning more about :

  • storytellers and bards, both the “professional” kind, and informal family or bedtime storytelling (ex. Pellowski, The Family Storytelling Handbook) ;
  • ancient toys and board games (Visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to see some ancient Egyptian ones, or make a game from Carmella Van Vleet’s Great Ancient Egypt Projects You Can Make Yourself), and then Medieval ones (like chess);
  • Colonial American toys and games (Locally, consider visiting Historic Hanna’s Town, Ft. Ligonier, Bushy Run Battlefield, and/or the Compass Inn, for children’s programs, or on living history days.  Raid the gift shop for toys, like a ball & cup or Jacob’s Ladder, and books like Janis Herbert’s The American Revolution for Kids: A History with 21 Activities);
  • Victorian parlour games, with cards, questions, words, or paper;  Tableaux, Charades (ex. Patrick Beaver, Victorian Parlour Games);
  • community events,  such as public holidays or feast days, tournaments, dances (balls, country dances, pow-wows, hoe-downs, etc.), barn-raisings, revival meetings, other church picnics/socials, or the circus coming to town

3.12. Joseph’s brothers make up a song about the values he stood for—Truth & Light, Love & Peace.

Philosophy:  Read about & discuss some of the abstract ideals related to personal & social virtue— Montague Brown’s The One-Minute Philosopher offers brief but informative one-page readings.

Politics:  Read about & discuss the ideals that define America.  What are today’s immigrants expected to know before becoming citizens?  Study to deserve your own citizenship; consider (excerpts from) The Declaration of Independence, The US Constitution & Bill of Rights, The Federalist Papers, Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America, Frederic Jackson Turner’s The Significance of the Frontier in American History, etc.; many of these are already gathered into a text called Declaration Statesmanship.  Also consider borrowing  DVD series such as The Great Courses: ‘American Ideals: Founding a Republic of Virtue’ (Prof. Daniel Robinson), “The American Identity’ (Prof. Patrick Allitt), or ‘The Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution’ (Prof. Thomas Pangle); Prof. Rufus J. Fears offers an entire course on ‘The History of Freedom.’



Possible Research Topics:


4.1. CSI: Middle East!  Learn more about Forensics/Crime Scene Investigation from a book such as Forensics for Dummies, Alex Frith’s Usborne Forensic Science, Walker & Wood’s Crime Scene Investigations:Real-Life Science Labs (Gr 6-12), or from an activity kit.  Consider how you might apply modern forensics to investigate one of the crimes depicted in the musical—such as the alleged death of Joseph, the false assault charge made by Potiphar’s wife, or Benjamin’s alleged theft of the golden cup.

4.2. Disaster Preparedness Plan (… for Famine, severe weather, natural disaster, or terrorism).  Joseph helped Egypt plan ahead!  Pick an emergency; consult sources such as the American Red Cross or the Dept. of Homeland Security to help your family—or your students, on behalf of their families—develop a plan and/or try to collect the supplies recommended.

4.3. Joseph is beloved because he reminds Jacob of his favorite wife, Rachel.  Learn more about DNA/genetics, especially traits passed from parent to child.  Also learn about sex selection (How did Jacob get those 12 sons?).

4.4. Desert habitats: hallmarks of the terrain, and how organisms survive there.

4.5. Discuss basic Sun Safety: sunscreen/ultraviolet protection; water intake/dehydration; heat exhaustion & heatstroke.  Consider going a step further and learning about Desert Survival strategies (possible from the Worst Case Scenario Survivor Handbook, or U.S. Army Field/Survival guides available in general bookstores).

4.6. Sheep & goats; shepherding

4.7. Camels

4.8. Rats.

4.9. Cattle

4.10. Corn. Wheat.  Did you know that the ancient Egyptians sort of pioneered dentists/dental care, because the sand which so often got into their flour/bread wore away the tooth enamel?

4.11. “Pharaoh said, ‘Well, stone the crows…’.”  Research crows.

4.12. Research stones– rock types (sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic), and rock identification.

4.13. Learn more about the elements Gold (“One of you has stolen my precious golden cup!”) and Silver (“silver coins for Jacob’s favorite son”).

4.14. In honor of Joseph the dream interpreter, research Sleep—especially its stages, REM, dreaming. Learn more about sleep disorders as well.

4.15. “There’s one more star in the sky.”:  The Sun. The Stars.  Research the life cycles of stars, as well as the names of prominent stars and/or constellations. What is the difference between an asterism and a constellation?

4.16. Learn more about Mummification, especially the ancient Egyptian method of preserving bodies (ex. the 3D peekaboo book Explore Within an Egyptian Mummy). The DK Reader (Level 4): Secrets of the Mummies, by Harriet Griffey, discusses Egyptian mummies, but also mummification as practiced in South America and in Palermo, Sicily (Italy).  How does mummification differ from the (accidental) preservation of Bog People in N. Europe, or the petrifying of skeletons & other fossils.

4.17. (Benjamin is like… )  Bamboo.  Palm Trees.  Coconuts. Bananas.

4.18. Tides (“Sure as the tide washes the golden sand…”)

4.19. Light, especially the visible spectrum (since Color is so important to this show!).

4.20. The structure and function of Eyes, including tears (“There’s one more tear in our eye”).

4.21.  Do we see color with our eyes, or with our brains?  Learn more about these special conditions:  Color blindness & Synesthesia.

Those who are color blind, due to a difference in their eyes, cannot discern certain shades of blue and green, which presumably “really exist” in the visible light spectrum.  On the other hand, certain types of synesthesia  trigger the “color” region of the brain while someone is listening to music, tasting flavors, experiencing feelings, or reading numbers, letters or words; so these synesthetes see colors—associated with music, feelings, letters, etc.– when no colors are present externally to others. (Visit the “Synesthesia for Kids“; website; teens & adults could also read Cytowic & Eagleman’s Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Understanding the Brain of Synesthesia.)




5.1. Check out Carmella Van Vleet’s Great Ancient Egypt Projects You Can Build Yourself (Nomad Press 2006)—a nice combination of historical facts and about 15 projects, including hieroglyphs, jewelry, amulets, royal crook & flail, making mud bricks, etc..

Consider especially:

Making your own Papyrus/ Paper, according to Van Vleet’s instructions (which go on to describe Ink made from the juice of ½ cup blackberries, plus ½ tsp vinegar, and ½ tsp salt)—or from a pre-packaged kit. (We got a small Make Your Own Papyrus kit, boxed in Egypt, for $8, in a museum gift shop–  so try your city’s science, history, and natural history museum, or an educational supply company like Rainbow Resource.)

Make you own Perfume, according to Van Vleet’s instructions, or from a pre-packaged kit like The Perfume Factory (sold with other activity kits—gum, chocolate, Chem. Lab, etc.—in stores like ToysRUs, Barnes & Noble, Michael’s, etc.; or again, available from Rainbow Resource and other companies that sell educational toys & kits.).

5.2. Sculpt like an Egyptian.  Use clay to fashion a scarab beetle, for example, or a shabti—a small human figure to be buried in a mummy’s tomb, and meant to act as its servant in the afterlife.  Older students might research and attempt to sculpt one of the gods of ancient Egypt (Horus, Osiris, Isis, etc.).  If possible, (if your clay was not the stay-soft modeling kind,) paint the sculptures once they’ve been dried or baked.

5.3. Try hieroglyphics—picture writing. We’ve enjoyed Write Like an Egyptian (Tangerine Press), and Catharine Roehrig’s stamp set & guide The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Fun with Hieroglyphs.

5.4. Research the design and construction of the Pyramids. (Ex. David Macauley’s Pyramid; Kingfisher[‘s] Pyramids)

Help younger children make one from sugar cubes, or by folding and taping/gluing cardstock.

5.5. Make a Coat of Many Colors.  Try a collage on card-stock: Draw Joseph, or yourself, wearing the robe, then glue on strips or pieces of colored construction paper or tissue paper.  Tie-dye a large T-shirt.  Or, Research fabrics and natural dyes, and do it the old-fashioned way.  For those handy with a needle, collect scraps of colored cloth and sew them together into a vest, or an entire coat.

5.6. Learn about an artist famous for creating Biblical illustrations– then attempt to produce a Biblical scene in the same style.

Learn more about Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel ceiling.  Tape paper to the underside of a table or desk, lie on your back under the table (preferably with a drop cloth or some newspaper beneath you), and reach up to paint you own scene from Biblical history– such as your favorite scene from the Joseph musical!

Other good choices:  the engravings & watercolors of 18thC poet William Blake;  or the detailed, historically-researched scenes of Victorian painter James Tissot (who drew many scenes from Jacob and Joseph’s lives!).  (Seton Home Study has conveniently gathered at least 70 of Tissot’s paintings into their book, Art 7 for Young Catholics.)

5.7. Explore art related to one of the brothers’ songs, and create an artwork similar in style:

Art of the American West (Native-American art & crafts;  Frederic Remington;  CM [Charles Marion] Russell;  Thomas Hart Benton;  Bev Doolittle; etc.).

Paris and Art (consider especially Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s print-posters for the performers, clubs & cabarets of Paris; and also the dreamlike paintings– often of Jewish village life–  of Marc Chagall).

Art of the Caribbean, such as folk art.  (Or copy the style of  Paul Gauguin, who paints South-Sea islanders, or Henri Rousseau’s jungle scenes.)

5.8. Paint a Velvet Elvis!  Or prepare some other portrait homage to Elvis.




6.1. Explore other Andrew Lloyd Webber compositions, such as the hit musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, or Aida. (Anyone heard of The Likes of Us ?)  Listen to “Pie Jesu” and discuss what & why Webber adds to modern classical composition.

6.2.  Listen to and Learn more about the styles of music represented in the musical:

Cowboy (folk) songs, or Country/Western music;

French ballads or Cabaret songs (perhaps listen to/watch a musical set in France, like Gigi or Can-Can);

Calypso, and other Caribbean music– such as the steel drums (pans). (Putamayo World Music, with a variety of CD collections, often include Caribbean selections.)

6.3.  Elvis lives!!  Learn more about the man and the music giving Pharaoh his style.  How many Elvis movies can you name? (Pop some popcorn & have a marathon.)

6.4.  Research Israeli music.  What instruments would have been played by the ancient Hebrews?  Read or sing some of the Psalms once sung by King David.

What sort of music has been composed and/or popular in 20th– and 21st-century Israel?

What is Klezmer music?


Jewish-themed:  Fiddler on the Roof; Yentl

Christian-themed:  Children of EdenJesus Christ SuperstarGodspellLike a River of LightSister Act Narnia; possibly Disney’s So Dear to My Heart.  Though they may not be true musicals, consider also Going my Way (1944, starring Bing Crosby) and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945, with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman).  And if you’re brave enough, you can try watching one of the worst musicals ever made– The Apple.  Mr. Bim, the devil-figure, tempts blue-jeaned true-loves Alfie & Bibi, who perform with each other (the ballad “Love, the Universal Melody”) in a music contest, and who almost defeat Mr. Bim’s spandex-and-glitter techno-rock group (singing “Hey, Hey, Hey, Disco Away”), with the apple of a lucrative recording contract.  Bibi succumbs– but will she repent, and find the grieving Alfie, who’s joined a group of hippie dropouts from Mr. Bim’s regime, and will they receive any help from the unseen Mr. Tops?

Ancient-settings (…but not music): Kismet (ancient Baghdad); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (ancient Rome); Jesus Christ Superstar

Musicals with Big Families:   The Sound of Music;   Seven Brides for Seven Brothers;   The King and I;  maybe the Cratchits in A Christmas Carol/ Scrooged?

Musicals with imprisonment:  Man of La ManchaChicago;   Les Miserables;  Oliver!;   Newsies;   Sweeney Todd; Kiss of the Spiderwoman; also, the Childcatcher traps the Potts children in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Mrs. Banks goes to visit jailed suffragettes in Mary Poppins.

Musicals with Dream sequences:  Oklahoma Bride & Prejudice The Wizard of OzSingin’ in the RainBert Rigby, You’re a FoolSweeney Todd DVD (“By the Sea”)

6.6.  Research one of the notable performers who’ve played Joseph, such as David Cassidy or Donny Osmond.  In which television series did these these two, respectively, become famous? Can you name a song from each that hit the popular charts?  Each also had a family member performing with him on TV— find out whom.


4 thoughts on “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Lesson Plans: Activities Related to Stage Musical & Film

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