Learning through Drama: 5 Activities to try at home
During this time of lockdown, everyone is missing their friends and group activities. Our imaginations may be expanding or they may be struggling at this time, so here are five of my favourite activities to try at home to promote language, learning, and creativity!
1. For the art lover...
Try bringing a character to life through art. This could be through colouring, drawing, painting, collage, building, lego, sand, playdough, clay...whatever your child's preferred form of art!
I especially enjoy creating characters that don't have a well-known 'look' - we tend not to use too much imagination when re-creating Peppa Pig and Shrek! So if trying these, use a more abstract material such as sand or clothes. Choosing characters that don't have an accompanying picture can ignite imaginations even further. Try choosing a character from a poem, a made-up story, or a lesser known character in a storybook.
Some of my favourite characters to use in classes are;
The Crocodile (There's a crocodile in my lunchbox - Steve Attewell) Have a look on Youtube for lots of Steve's poems with fantastic characters to try!
The Frog (poem - I have a little frog)
The Gruffalo's Mother / The Ugly Duckling's Teacher / Tarzan's pet
One of the Witches (Roald Dahl)
Anything from Mister Magnolia's house (Quentin Blake)
Bunce, Boggis and Bean (Fantastic Mr Fox - Roald Dahl)
2. For the movement seeker...
Bring a character or a feeling to life through movement. This is great exercise for bringing awareness both to others and to your own body. We learn to build empathy through understanding why a person may move as they do, and develop the social skill of interpreting body language.
Start off by having the whole family move around the room or garden as one character;
baby, toddler, young child, teenager, mammy / daddy, old lady / man, person with a sore back, person with a broken leg, person that's too hot / too cold, a person with a headache, a person who needs to go to the toilet....
Or walk / move around as an emotion;
angry, sad, scared, happy, hyper, excited, nervous, sneaky, sleepy, bored, annoyed, shy, worried that you're in trouble....
Try each one for maybe 10/15 seconds, and have one person in charge of calling out the next one to try. When everyone is warmed up, take turns acting one out and have everyone else guess who you are / how you are feeling.
3. For the chatter-box…
Put on a puppet show! Puppet shows are often easier for children to perform as the focus is not directly on them. You can try using actual puppets, teddies, beanbags, dolls, action figures, or home-made puppets from socks, hats, gloves, or face-cloths.
You can set up your stage using boxes, turn a child's table on its side, or set up behind a sofa or an ottoman. Boxes are great because children can spend time decorating them with colours or stickers, or adding a towel or jumper arms as the 'curtains'.
For your puppet show, you can try;
Act out a familiar story (3 little pigs / The Gruffalo / Horrid Henry)
Use a familiar character as a basis for your child to create their own story (Captain America / Olaf)
Give your child a situation and see how they create the ending (Teddy is sad because he broke his favourite toy / Olaf is lost in the woods)
Or let them have complete control over their puppet show, sit back and enjoy their show!
Usually children need a few turns of having an idea or more support given to them, and then they feel confident to make up their own stories.
4. For the competitor…
Try a drama game! There are hundreds of drama games to be found so I've picked two of my favourites; one movement based and one language based.
1. Team Rock, Paper, Scissors (More movement demands)
First, everyone must agree on full body poses / movement - what they look like and what they are called. Some popular ones are; vampire, dinosaur, bird, alien, ballerina, Fortnite characters, footballer, princess, wizard. For example, your pose for a ballerina might be standing on one leg with your arms over your head.
When you have agreed and practiced 3 poses, write up the rock, paper, scissors rules. For example, if you chose vampire, dinosaur, wizard you could say;
- Vampire beats Dinosaur - Dinosaur beats Wizard - Wizard beats Vampire
(Trust me, having these written down saves a lot of arguments!!)
Now in teams (or one on one) turn your backs to each other and agree in your teams what pose you are going to pick. On the count of 3, turn around in your pose and see who wins! Try first to 10 wins!
2. Yes / No Game (More Language demands)
This is a classic and simple game. Put one minute on the clock and see who can last answering questions without using the words 'Yes / No' (or any variations of these!)
I love this game as it had zero preparation, can be played anywhere, and is guaranteed to provide laughter. You can make it easier / more difficult depending on your child's age and language skills. It is also a great opportunity fo practicing complex question and sentence formation.
5. For the adventurer...
Create a map of an imaginary world. This is one of my favourite drama activities to do with all ages. Get a piece of paper, some markers / crayons, and map out the world from your favourite world, story, or poem. It's that simple! You could try mapping;
Cinderella's house and route to the castle
The mouse's map through the forest, marking where the animals were found
A Star Wars planet, marking where characters might live, where the spaceships may be kept, were the markets are...
You can leave it there, or you can take the map to the living room, garden, or on your daily walk and 'follow' it to find all the landmarks marked!
Get creative and give one or more of these a go! Let me know how you get on, what stories inspired you, and what world's you created!