Drama activities are key to the intellectual, social and emotional development of young children. Children learn as they play, pretend and imagine. When children engage in dramatic activities, they are experimenting with the various social and emotional roles they will encounter as adults. Drama activities teach children sharing, creative problem solving, and help instill a sense of empathy by allowing them to "walk in someone else's shoes."
Acting Out a Story
Kindergarten children love listening to their favorite story and often want to hear it over and over again. Add a twist to story time by having your students act out their favorite story after hearing it. Choose to have them reenact the entire story or just their favorite part. Create a performance of a favorite fairy tale or children's book that can be shared with the class or the entire school. Classic stories like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "The Three Little Pigs" are simple enough for kindergarten students to act out.
Pantomime teaches children how to act out a story without using words. Children are only allowed to use hand gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to convey the action of the story. For practice, have the children form a circle and give them an action to pantomime. For example, have them act out opening a special present, eating a bowl of something that tastes disgusting, taking a rambunctious dog for a walk, or a monkey eating a banana. Until they are confident enough to perform in front of the entire class, have the children all pantomime at the same time so that no one feels self-conscious.
Children love pretending and are naturally good at using their imagination. Designate an area of the classroom to be the "Dress-Up Center." Take an old trunk or toy chest and fill it with dress-up items such as crowns, police costumes, nurse and doctor uniforms, skirts, fancy hats, handbags, old shoes and boots, belts, and costume jewelry. Towels and sheets can even be used as costume pieces. Fill another box with props like swords, stethoscopes, toy instruments, binoculars, and baby dolls. Allow children to play freely in the area and use their imagination to create plays to perform in front of the class.
The Mirror Exercise
This engaging activity requires children to imitate the exact movements of a partner. Divide children into groups of two and instruct them to face one another. The teacher decides which group of children will be "A" and which group of children will be "B." It can be as simple as saying, "The children facing the window are "A" and the children facing door are "B." Once that is established, the teacher instructs the children to place their hands, palms facing outward, in front of their bodies, close to their partner's hand but without touching. The children should look as though they are standing in front of a mirror. The teacher decides which group, either A or B, will lead first. Once she says,"Begin," the leader starts by making small, slow, simple movements of the hand. The other child must do exactly what his partner is doing. As the activity progresses, the teacher can say, "Switch." This indicates that the partners switch and the follower must now lead the movements. When done properly, children should look like an exact mirror reflection of one another. As children become more skilled at this activity, the movements can become larger and be expanded to include the shoulders, legs and head. When children become extremely good at this activity, the transitions between partners will become seamless and the teacher should not be able to tell who is leading and who is following.
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