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Tipsheets

Five Easy Drama Games for the Early Elementary Classroom

Interested in fostering creativity in the classroom but lack the space or resources for an elaborate theater production?

Overview

Drama games tap into students’ imagination and can be conducted in any classroom for a variety of purposes—in warm-ups or closures, team-building activities, or to accompany and enhance a lesson plan.

1. Different Voices, Different Occasions

An invaluable skill for young students is figuring out how to adapt their voice to a particular situation and place—whether on the playground, in the classroom, or talking to a friend on the bus. The following exercise teaches students how to modulate their voice while also teaching voice projection:

First create an open space in your classroom and have students sit in a circle. Each student selects one index card from a container. On the card, a location (i.e., couch, desk, gym, bus, park) and a person (i.e., friend, teacher, guardian) are provided. Pick a student to select one stuffed animal or toy from a pile you gathered before class, then place it anywhere in the circle. Invite the student to speak to the object as if it were the person listed on the index card in the appropriate tone of voice for the given location. After the student speaks, the rest of the class guesses the location of the conversation and whom the doll or toy represents. Continue until every student has a chance to speak.

2. Special Me: A Memorization Game

A good memory is essential on the theater stage and in the real world. Help students exercise their memorization muscles while also building self-esteem and a sense of identity. The following game will also help you gain insight into students’ personalities.

With the class sitting in a circle, have each student share something he/she is proud of, thankful for, or happy about. Moving clockwise, each student should take turns completing the sentence, “I am ________and I am special because____________.” Remind students First Name Reason that they don't have to pick an object that is special; they could be special because of an experience or feeling. After each student shares his/her sentence, the person sitting to the left must state why the person who just spoke is special before sharing his/her own unique sentence.

3. Rhythm Again and Again

Another great memory game highlights rhythm and repetition. In addition to improving students' memory retention, the following game helps students develop an understanding of sequence and improves their ability to focus.

While sitting on the floor or at their desks, students take turns making a two-beat sound with their feet, hands, or mouth. Start off the first round by clapping your hands twice. The person to your right makes a sound of his/her choosing, such as finger-snapping twice, then repeats the sound you made. The next person makes a new two-beat sound, then repeats the others. The creation and recollection of sounds continues around the room while keeping a steady beat. If a student is stumped, give out a clue then continue. Depending on the grade level, you may choose to limit how many sounds in a row should be made in each round. At the end of each round, invite the next student to begin a new sequence of sounds.

After everyone has participated, have the students perform—one by one—only the sound they chose. Discuss the rhythm and musicality of the sounds the class performed

4. Moving Vocabulary

Actors must learn to move their bodies as well as their voices to portray a character. Teach students how to choreograph a series of movements, reinforce new vocabulary, and introduce tempo and rhythm to students—all in one activity.

Before class, pick a variety of verbs—some that students are already familiar with and some that they are learning (e.g., jump, stumble, twist, bounce, skate, fly, glide, skip). Write each word on individual note cards and put all cards in one container. Have students form a circle and invite each to pick a note card. While music is playing, students enter the circle, one by one, and demonstrate their movement. You will find that students keep time to the music as they are demonstrating. Next, break the class into groups of 4 or 5 and have them put their movements together into a dance. Each person must incorporate his or her movement once into the group dance. The group decides the order of the movements and must figure out a way to smoothly transition from one movement to the next. Have each group perform their dance for the rest of the class, making sure that the movements accompany the tempo of the music. You may choose to repeat this activity, having each person incorporate his or her movement twice into the group dance.

5. Charades: A Character Study

Drama and language arts go hand in hand. Students can study characters in a nursery rhyme or story by acting out and guessing clues about a character's main traits. Not only are students learning how to recognize the details that make individuals unique, but they are also developing important presentation skills.

Begin by explaining the concept of charades: One person uses gestures, movement, and facial expressions to get the class to guess a predetermined word—without talking. As the audience throws out guesses, the actor nods yes if the guess is getting close or correct. Before class, pick 1-4 characters from a story or nursery rhyme and write the character's traits or characteristics on large note cards. Have students study the cards and pick one trait (or a combination of traits) that best exemplifies the character they are portraying. Invite students to individually act out a trait (or traits) with movement, without speaking. You can choose to have the class guess the character or the trait.

By enlivening your classroom with these drama games, your students will develop important life skills, enhance oral and communication skills, gain confidence, and have fun while learning.

Credits

Writers

Theresa Sotto
Original Writer

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