Sunday, April 22, 2012

Drama Games for Kids...AND Adults

~ ages 5-12 ~

When we were children, we were encouraged to laugh, play, dance and sing.
When we were children, it was "cute" for us to put on a little play or sing a song for Grandma.
As we grew-up we were told (more and more often) by society, that singing and dancing is for children and that we are "too old" for such childish games.
These games focus on giving children and parents an opportunity to be a little silly while improving listening skills and self-esteem.
Though these games are specified for children between the ages of 5 and 12, they have been tested and proven beneficial for adults as well.
I strongly encourage parents, guardians and teachers to get involved with our children.
As adults, we should all have the opportunity to play, laugh and dance little.
Let loose and enjoy these games!

"Run a Marathon"
No materials needed, works great in a large group. Imagination and physical warm-up.
Have everyone stand in a circle facing inward and tell the group that they are about to run a race.
They are just behind the starting line and they need to stretch their legs and pump themselves up for the win!
"On your mark! Get set! GO!" And your Off! Everyone is running on the spot as fast as they can, they're being cheered-on by their fans on the sidelines, they pass one of the other runners, they turn a corner, they jump over a log, they swim across a lake - It's up to you! Have them react to whatever you tell them and then - you cross the finish line! Walk it off, take some deep breaths and raise both your arms up in the air because you are the champion! This is a great warm-up activity to get everyone moving and hearts beating.

"Explore Your Environment"
No materials needed, works in any size of group. Imagination & physicality.
Everyone starts by walking around the pre-determind space in a random fashion (rather than in a circle or in one direction). Once everyone has explored the physical space - change the setting. "You are no longer in this room - now you are in the Arctic and the cold wind is blowing, snow is sticking to your eyebrows and nose hairs, you pull your coat tighter around you but the cold just keeps getting colder, your nose starts running as all the bones in your body start to freeze and SUDDENLY you have become a frozen statue." Continue to change the setting, environment, tempurature, situation, etc. This game is a great way to get children out of "life mode" and into "play mode". Something I like to add to the end of this game is tell everyone you are walking in a park and you are surrounded by friends you haven't seen in a long time. Tell them to approach everyone in the group with a warm smile, a handshake and a greeting like "Oh, I haven't seen you in such a long time!" or "It's so nice to see you; how've you been?" etc. This game encourages group involvement and respect for others.

"As the Wind Blows"
Tape or chairs needed, works best with a larger group. Focus on things in common vs. differences.
Everyone stands on a taped "x" in a circle or sits in chairs placed in a circle. There should be enough chairs or "x's" for everyone except one person. This person stands in the middle of the circle and says "As the wind blows, it blows everyone who has ______". It could be something they've done, something they have, their favourite colour or something they're wearing. Everyone in the circle who has whatever the person in the middle stated, runs from their spot into someone else's spot. There will always be one person left in the middle for the next round. After playing this game a few times, I like to add another dimension - have everyone give each other a high-five before finding a new seat. This is encouraging for kids to see and hear what they have in common with who. A great way to introduce children into a group or individuals to each other.

 One hoola-hoop, works best with a medium-large group. Teamwork & accomplishment.
Everyone stands in a circle holding hands. A Hoola-hoop is placed on one person's shoulder so that it is resting on their right or left shoulder at the top and is in between their legs at the bottom. Without letting go of hands - pass the hoola-hoop all the way around the circle. While doing so, encourage the group to cheer-on their group members. Individuals can help their neighbors get the hoop up and over them by lifting their arms or lowering them closer to the floor. It's fun and everyone is so excited after they did it! It's really fun to time it the first time then try to beat the time as a group.

"Human Machine"
No materials needed, works in any size group. Teamwork, focus, rhythm & listening.
Everyone stands (or sits if they choose) in a circle. One person starts by making a movement from the person on their left to the person on their right accompanied by a sound. This movement with the sound is repeated from left to right, left to right until a rhythm is heard and seen. The person on that person's right then makes a motion that continues from the motion presented to them. If the person who started, picks something up on their left and drops it in the air over the person on their right then THAT person needs to make their own movement (in some way) catch the object being dropped over them so they can continue the motion around the circle. Eventually, everyone in the circle will be receiving and passing an imaginary object around the circle with repeated movements and sound. If working with younger children - using a real object, such as a ball, might help them imagine the object but also keep track of where it is in the circle. A great game which encourages working together and "give & take".

"Led By the Nose"
No materials needed, works in any size group. Exploration, imagination & physicality.
Everyone begins by exploring the space provided. Once everyone is spread out and walking within the space (not in a circle or in any given direction) instruct the group that they are now being led by the nose. They will in turn push their nose forward as if their nose is steering them about the room. Change it up as often as you like. Be led by the elbows, the fingertips, your toes, your ears, your teeth, etc. This is a great exercise to get children (and adults) out of their minds and warm them up for physical activity. Individuals will also learn to show their actions outward rather than simply standing and talking - they allow their bodies to be primary expressive factor.

"Silent Mimes"
No materials needed, works in any size group. Imagination, listening & physicality.
Everyone begins by exploring their environment as in the previous game. Direct the group through various activities meanwhile having them remain silent without any words spoken or noises made. Some activities may include: your eating an ice-cream, you're walking a dog, you're picking strawberries, you're washing the dishes, you're picking flowers, you're trying on clothing, you're admiring yourself in the mirror, etc. This is a great game to have towards the end of drama games as it tends to calm down the group and prepare them for leaving the "play world" and getting back into "life mode".

"You're in the Middle of an Ocean..."
No materials needed, works individually and in groups. Imagination, calming/cool-down.
Have everyone find a place on the floor to lay down and have them lay on their backs facing the ceiling. Then have them close their eyes. Everything you say - they are to imagine in their minds while keeping their eyes closed. "You're in the middle of an ocean. The sky is clear and seagulls pass overhead. You hear the waves as they gently sway your raft. You place your hand in the cool water and feel it drift between your fingers..." You can add as many dimensions to the story as you like, whether there's little fish in the water or a boat passes by but try to keep your voice quiet and calming. I usually like to end this game with "...a family seagulls flies over you and -UH OH - one pooped on your head!" This gets everyone laughing again and is a great way to get them out of the relaxing/drama mode and back into reality without being too abrupt or having them fall asleep on you.

I have done these games with children from the ages of 5 right up to adults in their 40's and 50's.
I find the best way to ensure games are well received and that everyone participates is to show your excitment for the games. If you get into it - so will the people you are instructing.

*NOTE ~ at any point if a child or adult is uncomfortable with a game or wishes not to participate, do not force them. Instead, instruct them to simply remain with the group and watch or to sit quietly closeby and still in view. Everyone has different levels of comfort and it is important to respect that in individuals of all ages.