Not Just Playing Around
Why should schools incorporate drama into their curriculum? Obviously plays are fun, and (most) kids enjoy doing them. However, there is much to be learned from these mini-productions.
This year, we continued our tradition of putting on a winter performance for our parents and added a performance for the preschool students at the Presbyterian Church. So how do plays help children develop as young learners?
Planning – The students are in charge. We are just here to help them realize their vision. The students planned out the sets, props and costumes.
- Project Management and Time Management– We only had two weeks to learn lines, practice, and build sets from scratch. That is not a lot of time. So they students had to get pretty good at cooperation. They also had to make time management decisions regarding the sets. What did they have time to make and where would they need to compromise?
- Reading – First, they of course had to read their lines. Reading comprehension is also a valuable skill that is honed. They had to discuss the setting (so that they could build their sets), characters and plot points.
- Making Creative Choices – We did two plays this year. The younger students performed the poem My Snowman by Harriett Whipple. I asked the kids if they wanted to add a song such as Frosty the Snowman or Winter Wonderland to their performance. One of our first graders chimed in, “let’s just write our own song”. So they did! Listen to SNOWMAN.
- Critical Thinking -The older students performed What, No Snowman?. During the initial read through, they decided that the Santa character in this play was a little rude and even a little sexist at points. Even though this is a play for children, at times the script felt a little “dated” and not very politically correct. So, they discussed, as a group, whether or not it was just Santa’s character or if some of his lines were inappropriate. In the end, they decided to change a few of the lines to make his character seem a little softer.
- Public Speaking Skills – Some of our kids are natural born hams. Some were quite nervous. But they all did a great job. They were able to get up in front of two groups of people, conquer any fears and put on a good show!
- Listening Skills – If you’ve ever been in any type of play, you know how important listening is. The students had to listen throughout the whole play so that they would hear their cues. They also had to listen to the instructions of our director, Mr. D.