Drama can be different to theatre. I think of drama as being more spontaneous, and an audience is not necessary. While telling a story, you can simply invite the children to act out the story with you and join in with the words they know. Young children can pretend to be each of the three bears in the Goldilocks story, and show with their hands how big their bowls are, and then pretend to be Goldilocks and show with their faces and words what Goldilocks thought of each bowl of porridge. Even the shyest child might pluck up the courage to join in when everyone is participating, and so it feels like no-one is watching. Next week, in preparation for our Thanksgiving International Feast, I will tell the story of ‘Stone Soup’ and invite the children to participate in the story. I’ll play the part of the hungry traveler, and the children will be the villagers who had to be taught that when we share what we have with others, we can all benefit. The traveller will add a magic stone into the soup pot to make stone soup, and then say something like, “Oh this will be delicious, but would be even better if we added some carrots. Who could add some carrots to the soup?” For sure, one of the children will jump in with, “I can” and so on, until we have a pot full of vegetables ready to cook for soup. Children feel free to improvise and add their own suggestions and details. “Can Nolan be the village chief?”, one child suggested. Nolan was the oldest child in the class, and gladly accepted the role of elder statesman of the village! “Can we invite another village to share our soup?”
Recently I spent some time with the lower elementary class polishing up a few improvised plays to perform for their parents and the younger students. The children worked cooperatively to select roles, make suggestions , such as adding musical sound effects and making masks, and to practice skills such as speaking loudly and clearly, and using their bodies and faces to show emotion. Every child in the class participated willingly and with great enthusiasm. Putting on a play is just so much fun!
Drama is one of my passions, so I share my interest willingly with the children I work with. When you share what you are passionate about with children, you give them a gift. You are sharing your time, talent and energy. We invite our parents to share their passions with our children. Music, cooking, sewing, gardening, art, writing, poetry, fossil hunting, geology, scrapbooking, woodworking
I have included the photos to show how casual the performances can be, but just take a look at the focus of the little children in the audience. They were totally engaged in watching the spooky Halloween stories unfold.