Friday, August 8, 2014

Using improv games as fillers and hooks in the classroom

Here are some excellent suggestions from one of my Drama Games students at Heritage Institute (thanks Irma!):

"Several of these games could be used as a “break”. Students have been sitting too long, perhaps listening too much, and one of these games can be used to give them a break before resuming again the particular area of learning. I think that using these games for a five or 10 minute break would 1) get them up and moving 2) provide some entertainment 3) grow the safe environment where creativity can be encouraged. Since I only have approximately 40-45 once a week to work with my students other than the ways that I suggested with each game, I think mostly I would use these games as something at the beginning of the class to warm up before the lesson starts, as a break in the middle, or for a time killer at the end."

1. Scenes From a Hat. (Whose Line is it Anyway?) This is a series of skits where Drew Carey pulls different scene suggestions from the hat. Different participants act out whatever was the suggestion. Sometimes they act it out individually; sometimes they use one or more of the different actors in their skit. I can see that this could possibly work with some of my 5th graders as perhaps an ice breaker activity at the beginning of the year when they are a little nervous about coming back to school and being in a new classroom with a new teacher and most likely students that weren’t necessarily in their class last year.

2. Funnies Props. (Whose Line is it Anyway?) The actors in these skits were given types of unusual props—such as a Tupperware game where each player has one, one player has a ball in his and he hits the plunger on the bottom for the ball to go to the next player who tries to catch it, or perhaps some big foam shapes, or a some coils, etc. The actors come up with a way to use this prop. I could see maybe my 4th – 5th graders doing something like this. I did something like this awhile back where students had to pull a couple of objects out of a bag and tell a quick story about it. This could be hook to a lesson if you had the right subject that it would go with.

3. Sound Effects. (Whose Line is it Anyway?) This is a skit where a couple of people (Ryan and Collin) acted out a scene and two other people did the sound effects for their actions. I could perhaps use this by having a couple of students retell a story that is either read to them or that is familiar to the students, such as a fairy tale, and have a couple of the students make sound effects for the actions of the story. For example, Goldilocks and the three bears—sound effects could be when she opens the door, eating the porridge, breaking baby’s bears bed, or snoring in the bed.

4. Accepting Game. (Comedy Improv Games: Part 3) This is a game where a couple of people act out a scene of some kind where one person basically agrees to everything the other suggests. They can only say “Sounds good to me,” “I’ll go along with that” and “Okay, great”. This game could be used at the beginning of the year to help establish a positive/safe environment in the classroom.

5. Attitude Scene. (Comedy Improv Games: Part 3) This game is done with 2 actors. Each actor is given an attitude that the other player doesn’t know. Each act out the scene portraying the attitude. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the video, I would have the other students try to figure out the attitude being portrayed. This could be something I think most of my kids could do. Even small children could figure out some attitudes-like anger, happy, etc.

6. Adjective Game. (Comedy Improv Games: Part 3) This is a game where the actors act out a scene displaying a specific adjective/emotional choice. Both actors could portray the same adjective/emotional choice, or they could each have a different one. I think my 4th or 5th graders could probably do this. Perhaps it could be used as an intro to a lesson. The scene acted out could be a student learning about a particular subject.

7. Accepting Circle. (Comedy Improv Games: Part 3) This game is played with a large group. The first person makes some type of gesture and weird noise to go with it to the next person in line. The next person copies the gesture and noise all around the circle. Since my classes can ONLY be an hour long—teachers need their students to be ready to return to class when they come for them--sometimes we might get finished a litter early and not have enough time left to start something new. This could be a time filler activity that I would do with my classes before they line up to leave the library and return to class if we have a few extra minutes.

8. Nine word sentences. (Comedy Improv Games: Part 3) This seems to be more challenging. The actors act out a scene where everything that they say can only have nine words in it, even if some words have to be left out. It could be a fun game to try with my 5th graders. It could be just a fun warm-up activity to class. The scene could be about what learning is taking place that day.

9. Blind Offers. (Comedy Improv Games: Part 3) This game is played by having one player turn their back to the other player. The other player will make some type of pose. The other actor turns around and gives a line of dialogue to go with the pose. This could be something that you could try as a whole group. The first players turns around to the second “poser”, makes up a line. The “poser” turns around to the next person, who becomes the next “poser”, makes up a line that actually tries to go with the previous line and the game continues until each has had a turn, each adding to the previous line—as a continual story.

10. Jibberish. (Comedy Improv Games: Part 3) Jibberish is played by having a couple of people act out a scene where all the dialogue is done in jibberish. Characters portray their message through emotions, body language, and facial expressions. I could see doing this game with my 4th and 5th graders.

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