Drama activities for young students

<b> Forum for teachers working with preschool children </b>

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Drama activities for young students

Post by torie » Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:52 am

I've recently been told that my program should be more 'drama' oriented for my 4-5year old students.

Does anyone have any ideas? I'm a bit at a loss...these kids can't read, they have very limited vocabulary, and I'm not sure where to start. How do you go about implementing successful drama activities with this age group??


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Post by tbmcdnl » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:05 am


Did you get a chance to see my reply to your last post? Taking simple and repetitive children's stories and acting them out while readying with very little practice can be a lot of fun for kids this age.
Since their vocab is limited and they can't read, repetitive is the key word.
You as the narrator can read the parts that vary and the kids can say the parts that repeat.

Other ideas would be to take children's songs/chants and act them out....
I once did a mini play kind of thing with Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar. Its the same chant over and over. Take things slow at first in teaching it to them and they should have no problem. You could also make up some words for a song that goes along with a well known tune like Frere Jacque and sing it between verses. When the kids are familiar with the chant and song, give them some simple costumes, and play with it all, giving everyone a turn playing different characters.

No matter what you do with drama activities for kids this age, its important to take things slowly and have a plan. Introduce whatever you are going to do slowly, and build on it.

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Post by shannonsensei » Thu Jun 15, 2006 2:24 pm

you can also have them role-play common english-speaking scenarios--my kids like "shopping".
also, if you can, see what types of things they act out on their own. for example, my kids like to make a train with the chairs in the classroom and so i sometimes incorporate that into my lesson.

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Post by d. » Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:53 pm

To add to the acting out stories idea. One thing I do is that I first read/act out a story to my class. I like to use stories that the children already know, like "Little Red Riding Hood," and then change them. So, for example, at the end of "Little Red Riding Hood" when the woodsman is about to chop open the wolf`s stomach to free Little Red Riding Hood and grandma I have the wolf wake up, fall in love with the woodsman and get married. The children will howl at you telling you that you got the story wrong. You can use this trick a lot to add interest and introduce more language with each story.

After acting out the story myself, I then narrate the story while I have students act out the story. Sometimes they need help, but it motivates a lot of students who wouldn`t otherwise care for the story and it can be a great confidence-builder.

Using these two ideas I can spend twenty-thirty minutes on one, short story and keep my classe`s attention throughout.

Let me second the "Who Stole the Cookies." I used it for a school play (not unusual in Japanese kindergartens) with four-year-olds. I also made a "Who Stole the Cookies" game. Make four identical cookies and on the back of three of them write "no" and write "yes" on the back of the fourth. Have four volunteers come up before the class and give each volunteer a cookie that they must keep hidden. The class then has to guess who stole the cookies. One student at a time will guess saying "I think____stole the cookies." That student will then reveal his cookie. Once the game is over do the cookie chant using the four students` names.

I hope these ideas help.

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Post by EFLwithlittleones » Thu Aug 24, 2006 3:09 pm

One idea I have used which was great fun comes from the use of 'Music & Movement' in nursery..

It's a listening exercise and aimed at raising confidence levels in shy children.

I first choose a piece of music and devise a dramatical presentation. Some of the children will act the movements out in time to the music and others will play the audience.

In this example I chose a bouncy dance tune by St Germain (French House music). The scene presented was of children sitting in pairs or alone playing with different toys also including a child 'on the telephone'. As the tune begins only one child notices. S/he goes up to the cassette and in a hammed up style listens very carefully to the music. S/he then tries to interest the others in the sound. They aren't very interested and s/he has to go round tugging at them to take an interest (giggles from audience). Eventually as each child does take an interest s/he stands up and begins to form a row across the classroom. The line is completed just before the bass kicks in and at that point they all start pogo-ing to the delight of the audience. You can either join in yourself, go straight into 'musical bumps', bring the audience in or stop the tape.

There is no need for any of the children to speak but lots of opportunity for mime. To get the timing right all the children have to pay attention to the sound even when they appear as if they are not for the purpose of the drama. This is important because in small children play very often involves acting out and performance.

I have only started working with mime and music in my classroom but I think there's a lot of scope for development: Listening being the skill often left out in a keen desire for speech and song and letter forming.

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Post by d. » Thu Aug 24, 2006 5:41 pm

While we are on the topic of music...

Rhythmic chants (simple Jazz chants) are a great tool if you are trying to teach a theme based unit. Get the class standing up and then chant out what you want the class to practice in a call in response format while moving around and staying in rhythm. If you have a synthesizer or something to give you a beat then great--use it. When I taught immersion I did this with verbs five minutes a day from the very first day. I just chanted out the verbs in different tenses, like "running, running, run, run, run, ran" and then the students repeated. Another way of doing this is, instead of having the students repeat exactly as you say, have the students only speak at a particular point in the chant. For example, a body parts chant I did I would chant "stomach, stomach, 1, 2, 3" and the whole class chanted stomach.

While we are on the topic of theme based units...

I find theme based curricula to be very dangerous. Inexperienced, untrained teachers will see the theme, find the flashcards and then drill the class. In my experience, I find no need to drill flashcards because you lose all the surrounding language and when this happens learning language ceases to be about communication. Young children do not, usually, complain the way adults do when they hear something they don`t understand. If you keep using sentences then the students will very quickly learn to understand, and begin to use the various bits in sentences. Drilling nouns sells students short. The way to do a theme based unit is to also practice structures that surround your theme. So, if you are doing animals, instead of drilling animal names, you could show a flashcard of a particular animal and talk about it with the students. Ask what it is, how many eyes it has etc... If they don`t know what you are saying hint at answers: point to the eyes; if they don`t get it then count: "one, two." I guarantee the second time you ask the question someone will know the answer and soon after everyone will be fighting to answer the questions and you will have to take them outside to run around and burn off that energy.

I hope this helps.


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Post by musica5 » Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:19 am

Singing games like "Here We go round the Mulberry Bush" are great ways to integrate vocabulary such as 'brush our hair' and 'wash our face' etc in a fun way. The children do the actions as they sing or listen to the song.

You can hear this song here
and the instructions and lyrics for the game are on the lyrics page.

Here we Go Looby Loo and also the Farmers in the Dell or Den are great action song games that involve drama and teach understanding, listening and speaking.

happy teaching

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Post by aprillove20 » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:54 am

Great ideas in when the kids are familiar with the chant and song, give them some simple costumes, and play with it all, giving everyone a turn playing different characters.

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