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Oskar & the Last Straw

Key Moments

Use this synopsis of Oskar & the Last Straw to review key points of the play with your students. Then, lead them through sequencing activities and creating frozen pictures with their bodies to see if they can remember the order of key events.


Oskar Loves to Dance!

Ten-year-old Oskar loves to dance when nobody is looking. But how can he find the time with his backpack getting bigger and bigger?

Oskar’s Growing Backpack

Oskar has so many things on his to-do list: 

  • School

  • Soccer practice

  • Music lessons

  • An art project

  • Math homework

  • Bucket o’ Monkey’s Club

  • Big Bag of Popcorn Club

  • Buy a present for Molly’s birthday party

  • Learn all the songs for Mikey’s rock-n-roll concert

  • Deal with the pressures of the mass media

  • Annnnd . . . Hold some lady’s straw!?!

As more things are added to Oskar’s list, his backpack gets bigger
and bigger.
Finally, Oskar’s backpack gets so big that he can’t even
He falls backward and squirms like a cockroach.

Beth & Frank

Beth and Frank are Oskar’s friends. They think Oskar has created a special dance that looks like cockroach. Oskar tells Beth and Frank he isn’t dancing. He is stuck on the ground and can't get up. Beth and Frank help Oskar out.


Oskar doesn’t want to deal with all the things he has to do. He decides to use his magic kit to make his backpack disappear. That doesn’t work, so he tries other problem-solving techniques.

When Oskar has free time, he loves to dance! And this is his favorite song...

Oskar's Problem Solving Techniques

“I can’t believe my magic trick didn’t work. I can’t believe my problem-solving techniques were a disaster.  I’ve tried everything I could possibly try to deal with everything I have to deal with. But now I’m completely out of options. I have absolutely no more choices!”


1. Oskar Decides to Ignore the Problem.

He does nothing. Beth and Frank return to see how Oskar is doing, and he even ignores them. This problem-solving technique didn’t help at all.

2. Oskar Mumbles & Sulks.

Frank offers Oskar a popsicle to cheer him up. But Oskar doesn’t take it. The popsicle melts in Frank’s hand. This problem-solving technique didn’t help at all.

3. Oskar Grumbles & Acts Like a Mad Dog.

Beth asks Oskar to help finish the rocket ship she is building. Oskar bites Beth’s hand. This problem-solving technique didn’t help at all.

4. Oskar Throws a Temper Tantrum.

Frank enters with a comic book stuck to his hand. This time, Frank doesn’t offer to help Oskar. Frank has issues of his own to deal with. None of Oskar’s problem-solving techniques have helped at all!

No More Choices Bear & Coping Cat

No More Choices Bear appears to Oskar. She encourages him to do nothing to solve his problems. But Coping Cat appears, telling Oskar he must deal with his backpack before things get out of hand. Oskar wonders what he should do.

The Pressure Gets to Oskar!

If Oskar doesn’t make his problems disappear, Oskar knows he will be in trouble. He imagines disappointing everyone he knows.

Everyone Is Upset

Beth appears, crying because no one will help her with her rocket ship. Frank appears, crying because his hand is stuck to his comic book. Oskar starts crying because he cannot escape his backpack.

What Happened Last Time?

Beth and Frank tell Oskar they know what he is going through. The same thing happened to them. Beth and Frank listened to their parents and teachers, who helped them work through their problems. They ask Oskar to remember what adults have told him to do.

“Ah-ha! I remember! I’ve been told to deal with everything I have to deal with one thing at a time.”


One Thing at a Time

Oskar decides to deal with his backpack one thing at a time. Coping Cat appears and encourages Oskar. But No More Choices Bear still wants Oskar to ignore his problems. Oskar decides No More Choices Bear is wrong. He must take action! Because Oskar deals with one thing at a time, he takes care of his problems quickly.

Oskar Helps His Friends

Now that Oskar has free time, he can help his friends with their problems. Oskar helps Beth finish her rocket ship. Then, Oskar helps Frank remove the comic book stuck to his hand.

Dance Party!

Oskar’s backpack is no longer a big deal to him. He now knows how to deal with it one thing at a time. With everything taken care of, Oskar can finally dance!

“My problems were always small. I was just looking at them the wrong way. And this backpack was never so bad. And it can’t turn me into a cockroach. But it can come in handy during an elaborate final dance number!”


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