Sunday, August 14, 2016

Back to School Improv Drama Games for the Classroom - listening and communication skills

Improv Drama Games can be a great way to start the school year. These games encourage teamwork and build communication skills. Start off your new students with some great activities that will help them to work together and open up to each other.

PASS THE BALL: All students stand in a circle facing each other. Ask a student to pass a mimed (pretend) ball to others (one ball at a time so the pretend ball goes all the way around the circle). When the imaginary ball gets to the first student, then the teacher says the pretend ball becomes heavier until it weighs over a 100 pounds.  The students must pass the new imaginary ball and pretend it is really heavy.  Then next time around it gets extremely light or extremely small.  The ball can also get hot, cold, sticky, smelly, etc. This game could also be used to teach adjectives and adverbs.  School themed variations on this include pass the book (have the book take on different sizes and properties) and pass the school supplies.

GROUP STOP: Everyone quietly mills about the room. One student (or the teacher) will freeze in position unexpectedly. As soon as one notices that someone else has frozen in position they freeze as well. So the effect of one person freezing causes everyone to freeze. Once everyone is still the group starts milling around again. The goal is to see how quickly the group can freeze in position.

FLOCK OF SEAGULLS: You have a leader (student or teacher) and everyone else must copy everything the lead actor does.  

WALKING TO SCHOOL: All actors walk in place. The teacher calls out different things they must walk through. Rain, snow, ice, heat, wind, mud, tornado, jello, honey... 

CIRCLE CRESCENDO: Players stand in a circle. The first person whispers “one, the second whispers “two” a little louder and so on around the circle growing progressively louder.  You can do the opposite as well, starting out really loud and seeing how quiet the students can get. This is a good way for students to practice using “inside voices” in class. 

UP, DOWN, FREEZE: The teacher demonstrates what students will do by calling out one of the following commands: Up-hands in the air, Down- drop to the ground, Heads-hands on head, Shoulders-hands on shoulders, One Leg-stand still with one leg in the air. Students begin walking around until a command is given. The students freeze in that position until the teacher says, "Walk" followed by another command. I like how this game encourages attentive listening, while giving kids a much needed opportunity to move about.  To make this a challenge for older kids, the teacher can use a made up word or number for each command to practice memory skills.

ZIP, ZAP, ZOOP: This game is played by saying the words "zip, zap, or zoop." Players form a circle. The teacher turns to the right, points to the student, and says, "zip." That player has three choices: he/she can turn to the right and say "zip", turn to the left and say "zap" or point to someone across the circle and say "zoop". If a player is "zooped", his only option is to turn to the right and say, "zip". Subsequent players have three options, "zip, zap or zoop," unless they are "zooped".  

CHARACTER WALK: In this game, students stand in a circle. They begin walking in one direction. As the teacher calls out commands such as "Walk like an old person", "Walk like a model", "Walk like a body builder", the students change the way they walk. This game can be adapted to fit a character study. For example, after reading a novel, command the students to move like a particular character from a book read in class.

GREETINGS: Everyone starts to jaunt around the room. The teacher calls out ways for players to greet each other. For example, she calls out "like cowboys", "like clowns", "like long lost friends". The students then greet each other as though they are that character. This could also be used to act out characters from books read in class.

KNOCKING: Have students look around the classroom to see what is around them. Then have students close their eyes. The teacher walks around the room and knocks three times on any object in the room. After the teacher walks away, the students open their eyes and try to guess on which object was knocked on. If no one guesses, the students close their eyes and the teacher repeats the activity.  This is a good way to introduce a new classroom to students and practice listening skills.

BOB FROM BOSTON: Students stand in a circle. The first student says his first name and names a city, state or country that starts with the same first letter i.e, Hi, I’m Bob from Boston. The next student repeats “Bob’s” name and adds her name and a city to it. This continues around the entire circle. This is good for the first few days of school so that students can build community and become acquainted with each other. It can become a mini-geography lesson as well.

THAT’S ME: Students sit at their desks. The teacher calls out something from the list. Any student who relates to it can stand up and say, “That’s Me!” This is a great activity to get to know each other at the beginning of the year. It can also be used when studying about specific characters in a story. When I call out something that relates to a character, I will ask the students to call out “That’s Him!” or "That's Her!" or the name of the specific character.


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