All of these activities should be used in conjunction with shared or individual texts. Before beginning a drama activity you should discuss with the children the concept of belief. A nice way to allow the children to engage with the concept is to tell them that we are going to go inside the story, talk to different characters and explore the world etc.
Ask the children what they think it would be important to remember when we are inside the story – respecting each other, listening to everyone, working together etc. Ask the children to agree to these rules and remind them of these ideas before beginning an activity.
Library Song/Rhyme Activity
Age group: All Ages
Resources: paper, markers
The children will discuss words that come to mind when they think of the library. The children will brainstorm these words in small groups and write these on a large page. They will then share their ideas with the whole group.
The facilitator will divide the children into groups. Each group is given a topic card and they must create a short rhyme about the topic.
Topic card examples:
types of books in the library, checking out a book, selecting a book etc
The children will present their rhymes to the rest of the group. The whole group will then work to combine the rhymes to create one song. The group can suggest familiar nursery rhymes or a popular song to use as a base to create their songs.
Example of a rhyme facilitators can use:
(Based on the song ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’)
Searching, searching for a book,
I know just the place to look.
Lots of books to catch my eye,
In the library, for me to enjoy.
Many books of different kinds,
Stories and facts to feed all our minds.
The children will perform their song. They could also perform the song for their parents at the end of the day’s session.
These are quick exercises that could be used to transition between activities at any stage as well as burning off excess energy if the children are restless and having difficulty concentrating
With the thumb and fingers of the other hand, feel for the two hollow areas under the collarbone, about one inch out from the centre of the chest. Rub these areas vigorously for 30 seconds to one minute, as you look from left to right.
** This stimulates the carotid arteries which supply freshly oxygenated blood to the brain. They help re-establish directional messages from parts of the body to the brain, improving reading, writing, speaking and the ability to follow directions.
THE CALF PUMP
Stand arm’s length away from a wall and place your hands shoulder-width apart against it.
Extend your left leg straight out behind you, so the ball of your foot is on the floor and your heel is off the floor. Your body is slanted at a 45 degree angle.
Exhale, leaning forward against the wall, while also bending your right knee and pressing your left heel against the floor. Inhale and raise yourself back up, while relaxing and raising the left heel.
Repeat three or more times. Then alternate to the other leg and repeat.
** Improves concentration, attention, comprehension and allows you to join in activities more fully.
Start by sitting in a chair, resting your left ankle on top of your right knee.
Grasp your left ankle with your right hand and the ball of your right foot with your left hand.
As you inhale, place your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, about one-quarter of an inch behind your front teeth. Relax your tongue as you exhale. Close your eyes and rest in this posture for four to eight complete breaths.
Now uncross your legs, placing your feet flat on the floor. Lightly steeple the fingertips of both hands together, as if you were enclosing a ball.
Keep your eyes closed as you continue to lift your tongue on the inhalation and lower it on the exhalation, relaxing in this position during the course of four to eight complete breaths.
** This exercise connects the two hemispheres of the brain and strengthens the body’s electrical energy. Reported benefits are increased vitality and improved self-esteem.
Standing up, “march” in place, alternately touching each hand to the opposite knee.
Continue during the course of four to eight complete, relaxed breaths.
** This exercise is wonderful for improving reading, listening, writing and memory. It co-ordinates the whole brain.
Rest two fingers of one hand under your lower lip. Place the heel of the other hand on your navel, with fingers pointing downwards.
Breathe deeply as you look at the floor. Moving only your eyes, look gradually from the floor to the ceiling, then down again. Repeat this for three or more breaths, as you entire body and eyes relax.
** This stimulates the brain and relieves mental fatigue. It also helps to enhance your ability to focus on near objects.
Sit on a chair in front of a table, resting your forehead between your hands on the table top. Exhale fully.
Now, while slowly lifting your head, inhale deeply, breathing into the base of your spine. Your torso and shoulders should stay relaxed. As you exhale, tuck your chin down onto your chest and begin moving your head down toward the table, while lengthening the back of your neck. Rest your head on the table as you relax andbreathe deeply.
Repeat three or more times.
** This keeps the back muscles toned and the spine supple, flexible and relaxed. It improves posture and concentration and is very useful for those who work at desks and computers.
THE ENERGY YAWN
As you begin to yawn, lightly press the fingertips of each hand against any tight spots you feel where your cheeks cover your upper and lower molars.
Make a deep, relaxed, yawning sound while gently stroking away any tension.
Repeat three or more times.
** This relaxes the jaw, releasing tension and also stimulates and relaxes the eyes. It is
said to even improve creativity, as there is a relationship between ease of jaw motion and
ease of expression.
Stand with your legs a little less than one leg-length apart. Point your left foot straight ahead of you; point your right foot towards the right.
Now bend your right knee as you exhale, keeping the left knee straight. Your body should face squarely to the front. Do the movement over three or more complete breaths, and then repeat facing the opposite direction.
** This increases comprehension, short-term memory, self-expression and organisational skills.
Approx. time: 30 mins
Age Appropriateness: All ages with variations
Materials required: Appropriate costume pieces/ blanket to turn chair into a hot seat
Groups of Children: Small groups; 5 or whole group
Also remind the children about the library’s ‘drama contract’ which instructs on respecting everybody else when there is a person doing a role play.
This is a strategy that is used to speak to the different characters in the story. Ask the children to think of questions that they would like to ask the characters in the story.
What do they want to know about something that happened or how a character might feel etc? Make a before/ after chart as a class of adjectives that describe the character and fill in the before section as a group.
If the facilitator is doing the role play part, they should perhaps put on a costume (even if it is only a hat or a pair of sunglasses!) to differentiate between themselves and the character they are playing.
Give the children the chance to ask you questions, and answer them as if you are the character. You can choose the character that you would like to portray. For example it could be interesting to go in role as the antagonist. This can be a chance to challenge their perceptions of a character and present the other side of the story, give them the reasons behind your actions and perhaps gain their sympathy.
If the children are to go into the role play part, then they should be arranged in small groups of about five children. There will be one chair designated as the ‘hot seat’ and the children will take turns going into role (if they want to). They will have to think about how the character might feel and why they might have acted or behaved the way they did. The other children in the group will then ask them the questions that they had discussed as a group earlier.
The facilitator can circulate and ask questions to direct the conversations and help the children’s imaginative and empathetic engagement with the story and characters. The facilitator will call when the person in the hot seat should change.
The children will feedback what they learned about the different characters. They will offer adjectives to describe the characters now that they have spoken to them.
Compare and contrast the adjectives from before and after the activity.
Are they different?
What changed your opinion?
Why did your opinion not change?
Children in the role play part would be more effective for older children. Younger children however would engage better with the facilitator in role.
Approx. time: 35 mins
Materials required: Shared text/ individual book/ extract. A4 paper, pencils, colours, music/ sound effects if necessary.
Groups of Children: Pairs
Read a particularly effective description of a setting in a book (or ask the children to find their favourite description of a place in their own book). Ask the children what they picture in their mind when they listen/ read the description.
Can you see houses, trees, people, cars, waves etc?
What words in the story helped you to visualise/ see the image in your mind?
Split the group in two.
Explain to the children that one half of the group are very important visitors to the setting of the story.
The other half of the group have lived in the setting of the story for all of their lives and know everything about it. They have been asked to show the visitors around the area and tell them everything that there is to know about it.
You can give a few examples of things mentioned in the story if necessary to spark the children’s own ideas; ‘Maybe they would like to see the church where the King was married? Or the cottage that Goldilocks found the three bears in? Of course you know the area much better than me!’
Arrange the children in pairs (give them numbers or matching number badges or playing cards etc to pair them up) and let them walk around and describe the area and ask questions. (It may help the children to engage more in the activity if soft music is playing in the background appropriate to the setting they are imagining or, for example, the sound of the sea if they are near water etc.)
Ask the children to draw a map of the area that they visited on their tour. At the end of the activity, they can present each of their maps to the group. These maps could also be displayed and shown to the parents.
Freeze frame/ still images
Approx. time: 30 mins
Age Appropriateness: All ages
Materials required: Shared text / individual text
Groups of Children: groups of 3-4
Ask the children to find a passage of text from their story that they like as a group. Discuss the three most important moments that happen in the passage, one from the start, the middle and the end. Discuss what is happening in each of these moments:
Who is there?
What are they doing?
What do you think they are feeling?
How would that feeling show on their faces/ in their body position?
Each group finds a space around the room to create three freeze frames. They work together to create each of the three important moments in their passage. How are they standing etc? Give the groups time to practise and prepare.
The facilitator should walk around and ask each group questions:
What are you doing?
How are you feeling?
How are you going to show that on your face?
When they are ready, ask all of the groups to sit down around a performance area.
Each of the groups will use their three freeze frames to tell their story in the performance area. The groups will walk into their first freeze and hold it for a count of five as the facilitator counts aloud. They move into the second freeze and hold for another count of five. They then move into their third freeze and hold. The other children then offer opinions on what was happening in the story they were telling.
(These performances could be demonstrated for parents at the end of the day)
Early finishers/ older children can add in ‘thought tracking’ to their freezes. This strategy asks the children to think about what their character would be thinking in their freeze and say it aloud. They can be prompted to share these thoughts aloud by a tap on the shoulder by the facilitator or just one at a time in the group left to right etc.
Age Appropriateness: All age groups
Materials required: Clipboards, pencils, paper
Groups of Children: In pairs
The facilitator will tell the children that they are going to imagine they are all going to the setting of the story. To do this, they need to step through a magic mirror. The facilitator will draw a large mirror in the air and step through it. In pairs the children will brainstorm two things that they will need to bring with them to the setting. The children will share these with the group.
The children will draw an imaginary mirror and wink and step through. The children will share what they can see, hear and smell. The children will use their clipboards to record what they can see there. The children will imagine that they found some objects in the setting.
What will you need to bring with you?
What can you see/ hear/feel?
What objects did you find there?
How do you feel?
The children will gather together and share the items that they collected when they visited the setting. In pairs the children will create freeze frames of what they saw in the setting. The other children will guess what they are.
What did you do/ see in …?
How did you feel?
What was your favourite thing about …?
What was your least favourite thing about the place?
This activity can be based on different stories suited to different age groups.
Age Appropriateness: All age groups
Materials required: Story of choice
Groups of Children: Group divided into two groups, small groups
The facilitator will read the story aloud to the children. The character should be faced with a dilemma in the story that is chosen. The group will discuss the story. In pairs the children will discuss possible outcomes and answers to the dilemma. The children will share these with the group.
The children form two lines facing each other. One person (the facilitator or a child) takes the role of the protagonist and walks between the lines as each member of the group speaks their advice. It can be organised so that those on one side give opposing advice to those on the other. When the character reaches the end of the alley, s/he makes her/his decision.
The children can be divided into small groups and create a small drama based on what will happen to the character based on his/her decision. Each group will be given the opportunity to perform their drama.
Example of a story and dilemma:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Lewis Carroll
-Should Edmund betray his siblings and bring them to the Snow Queen?
- Flashbacks and Flash forwards:
The children will create a still image based on a point in the story. The facilitator will explain that when you clap your hands, you would like them to move silently in slow-motion to where their character was a few moments before. When they are frozen still in the new image, you can use thought-tracking to explore character motivation.
Following this, ask the children to move back to their original image – which is the present moment.
Then you then can use Flash Forwards – participants move in slow-motion to indicate where their characters might be a short time after this moment. In this way you have created an episode with a beginning, middle and end and can develop it in any number of ways.
- Alternative endings:
The children can create dramas based on alternative endings to the original story read. The facilitators can provide these endings and the children can create a drama based on how the characters will react.
- Character in 10 years time:
Children brainstorm in groups what has happened to different characters since the end of the story. Each group will brainstorm ideas for different character.Each group must also think of question to ask the other characters. The children will gather back in a large group. The children will then ‘interview’ the different characters about their lives. All the children in the group can answer for the character or one child can be selected to act as the character being interviewed.