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Simple Drama Activities for Kids

Rita Putatunda
Drama is one of the oldest forms self-expression and exists in all cultures. Children have a natural propensity to play-act. Drama activities are a great way to use this natural urge of children to pretend and role-play, to enhance their learning.
Drama, as a form of self-expression, is age-old and exists in every culture in the world. In fact, it has always been used as a means of exploring and expressing human feeling. Being a distinct skill in itself, it is a subject that is offered in secondary school.
However, being versatile and flexible, drama can be used in other areas of the curriculum as well, in the form of activities.
Make believe forms are large part of childhood. Pretending while enacting a favorite story or playing house is a way of learning about the world as well as themselves, thus it is a tool children use unconsciously to explore human experience.
Hence, by incorporating activities in the regular curricula, teachers can take advantage of this natural urge children have of play-acting. These activities can also be a great way to warm-up before taking part in a play, or used as exercises to tune oneself, if acting/drama is chosen as a subject for building a career in it.

Benefits of Drama

» Develops imagination, creativity, and flexible ways of thinking
» Develops focus, concentration, and the ability to pay attention to detail.
» Helps you to master your body language, blending body movement and facial expression, coupled with spoken language, to convey yourself.
» Helps to explore inner values, feelings, and thoughts
» Develops the ability to interact and work with others
» Helps in building self-confidence and self-esteem
Some teachers may think that including activities may be too stressful or may become unruly, the natural interest that play-acting generates makes it interesting and manageable.
Some of the best drama activities can be quite simple, without any need for memorizing lines or elaborate props or materials. Rather than providing a performance for an audience, these activities are focused more on developing the personality of children. Activities can also include games, apart from dramatics, per se.

5 Fantastic Activities to Try Out

This can be done individually or in pairs. Tell the children to spend, say 10 minutes, imagining about someone like a queen/king, president, or a famous celebrity, and then to act out the role.
Role Playing
This can also be done in pairs, or in small groups, such as two airplane pilots flying an airplane, a team of doctors with nurses in an operating theater, firemen in a rescue effort, a couple of astronauts out in space or in a new world, and so on.

JAM (Just-A-Minute)

Tell the children to pair up and take turns to discuss various topics, a single word at a time, such as painting, outer space, a sport, and so on.
After a while, each child can choose one of the topics they had discussed, and talks about it for one whole minute, without pausing or faltering, without any "ummm"s and "aaah"s! This drama activity is meant to develop skills like public speaking, spoken language, improvisation, and voice projection.
This is similar to dumb charades. Children love using gestures and facial expressions to act out a role/person, without words. As one child performs the pantomime, others can guess who he is miming.
This drama activity can also be done in a group; it is indeed fun to mime everyday scenes like cleaning a room, gardening, buying vegetables and fruits in a supermarket, playing in a playground, enacting a ceremony etc
Story Telling
There are so many stories that can be used for this drama activity. When choosing a story, look for one with dynamic characters and not-too-complex plots.
The stories should not be merely read out aloud, but told, hence, the children need to familiarize themselves with the stories first. Enacting them out is even more fun for children, especially if the story has humorous characters and situations. They could even act out inanimate objects relating to the plot.
Encourage them to use their imagination to stretch out the limits of the story. Scenes from Shakespeare's plays or from a Harry Potter book would be great for older children. Younger children will have great fun with familiar stories like Snowhite and the Seven Dwarfs, Hansel and Gretel, or Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Passing the Face

The whole group should stand in a circle, holding hands. Then, one person in the circle begins by turning to the person on his/her right and making a face - it could be an emotional face or a funny face.
The next person then makes another face and passes it to the person next to him/her, and so on. The expressions should not be copied, but variations of a theme be explored instead, such as each one thinking of a different emotional or funny face.
Apart from a classroom drama activity, this can also be used by actors just prior to a performance, in the green room. It enables the participants to overcome their fears, and become more relaxed and at ease with themselves.
These drama activities mentioned here may seem a little too simple to actually help children any way. But some of the best things in life are simple, and yet priceless! In fact, even grown-ups can try these activities, just for the fun of it! Imagine having to do any of these activities at a party... especially something like Passing the Face! Ha!
There's one thing that is sure to bust your stress. Do not underestimate the importance of drama activities. They sure help children and adults alike, and in a lot of ways.