Theatre Lessons for children

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Педагогика и дидактика

Many of the skills learned in playing are social skills. Most games worth playing are highly social and have a problem that needs solving within them- an objective point in which each individual must become involved with others while attempting to reach a goal.



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Theatre Lessons for children

Theatre lessons can become a place where teachers and students meet as fellow players, involved with one another, ready to connect, to communicate, to experience, to respond, and to experiment and discover.

Playing theatre games with your students will bring refreshment, vitality, and more. Theatre-game workshops are designed not as diversions from the curriculum, but rather as supplements, increasing student awareness of problems and ideas fundamental to their intellectual development. Many of the games contain notes connecting them with a variety of study areas.

Theatre-game workshops are useful in improving students’ ability to communicate through speech and writing and in nonverbal ways as well. They are energy sources, helping students develop skills in concentration, problem solving, and group interaction.

Games during the theatre lessons have been designed to stimulate action, relation, spontaneity, and creativity of individuals in a group setting. Students learned by doing, through first-hand experience, rather that by lectures in ready-made formulas.

A game is a set of rules that a player decides to live within.

The rules don’t so much restrict the player as they keep the player playing.

In play, the skills and strategies necessary to the game are developed. Ingenuity and inventiveness meet any crises the game presents, for it is understood that all participants are free to reach the game’s objective in any manner they choose. In fact, any unusual or extraordinary way of resolving the problem of the game is likely to be applauded by one’s fellow players.

Many of the skills learned in playing are social skills. Most games worth playing are highly social and have a problem that needs solving within them- an objective point in which each individual must become involved with others while attempting to reach a goal.

Outside of play there are few places where children can contribute to the world in which they find themselves. Their world, controlled by adults who tell them what to do and when to do it, offers them little opportunity to act or to accept community responsibility. The theatre-game workshop is designed to offer students the opportunity for equal freedom, respect, and responsibility within the community of the schoolroom.

Play is democratic! Anyone can play!

Everyone can learn through playing! Play

touches and stimulates vitality, awakening the whole person-

mind and body, intelligence and creativity,

spontaneity and intuition- when all,

teacher and students together, are attentive to the moment.

A child can make an honest and exiting contribution to the classroom theatre workshop only if allowed the personal freedom to play the games. The player must be free to interact with, to experience, his or her social and physical environment. Young players can accept responsibility for communication; can become involved; can develop relationships and learn to improve and to evolve theatrically valid scenes, but only when given the freedom to do so.

When the student actor responds joyfully, effortlessly,

the teacher\director will know that the theatre is in his or her very bones.

Experience comes from direct contact with the environment, total organic involvement with it. This means involvement with it. This means involvement on all levels: intellectual, physical, and intuitive. Intuition can only be felt in the moment of spontaneity, the moment when we are freed to relate and act, involving ourselves in the morning, changing world around us.

Intuition bypasses the intellect, the mind, the memory, the known.

Using intuition cannot be taught. One must be tripped into it.

The effects of the game playing are not only social and cognitive. When players are deeply focused on a game, they are capable of transforming objects or creating them. Transformations seem to arise out of heightened physical movement and of exchange of this moving energy between players. Change occurs not once but over and over again.  Transformations are theatre magic and an instinct part of most theatre games.

The heart of improvisation is transformation.

Creativity is not rearranging; it is transformation.

Feeling Self with Self

(Theatre lesson 1 for children)

I Warm-up

Purpose: To discover full-body perception of self

Focus: On feeling self with the body part that is sidecoached.

Description: Players sit quietly and respond.

T: Feel your feet in your sock!

Feel your socks on your feet!

Feel your feet in your shoes!

Feel your socks on your legs!

Feel your legs in your socks!

Feel your pants or skirt over your legs!

Feel your legs in your pants!

Feel your blouse or shirt against your back

And your back underneath your blouse or shirt!

Feel your ring on your finger!

Feel your finger in your ring!

Feel the hair on your head and

Your eyebrows on your forehead!

Feel your tongue in your mouth!

Feel your ears!

Try to feel the inside of your head!

Feel all the space around you!

Now let the space feel you!

Notes: 1. Coach keep your eyes open if necessary. Closed eyes can be a withdrawal.

  1.  This is a good exercise for relaxing and refreshing students.

Conclusions: T: was there any difference between feeling your ring on your finger and feeling finger in your ring?

II Transformation games

  •  Involvement in Twos

Purpose: Making the invisible visible, using space objects as theatrical props.

Focus: On the object between players.

Description: Teams of two players agree on an object and begin an activity determined by the object itself, such as folding bedsheets or pulling taffy.

 T: Keep the object between you!

Keep the object in the space!

Make the object real!


Don’t tell!

Use your whole body!

Notes: 1. It is natural for players to want to plan the action out in advance, which defeats spontaneity and results in awkwardness. To avoid playwriting, have each team write on a slip of paper the name of an object. Place all the slips in a container. Each team takes a slip just before its turn.

  1.  Players are not to build a story around the object, and therefore there should be little need for dialogue. Suggest that the object be one which is ordinarily handled.
  2.  This is a dramatic situation without conflict. While most playwrights assume that conflict is central to a scene, good actors in performance generally try to help one another.

Conclusions: T: What was the object?

Did players show or tell?

Did players work together?

Did this team benefit from preceding team’s evaluation?

Players, do you agree?

  •  Involvement with three or more

Purpose: To encourage team agreement and joint participation.

Focus: On keeping an object in space between players

Description: Teams of three or more players. They agree on an object which cannot be used without involving all of them. Players participate in a joint action in which all move the same object. For example: pulling a fishnet, portaging a canoe, pushing a stalled car.

T: Work together!

You need each other to solve the problem!

Keep the object in the space!

Keep the object between you!

Note: This game almost automatically keeps players involved with each other though the object. This game may tend to confuse players, i.e., one player may direct the other two in moving the object rather than all three becoming directly involved.

Conclusions: T: Did players work together?

Or was one of them not needed for the task?

Players, did you need each other to move the object?

Audience, do you agree?

Did this team benefit from the preceding team’s evaluation?

Sensory games:

  •  When I go to California

Purpose: To develop memory and observation.

Focus: On remembering a series in sequence.

Description: Teams of ten to twelve players in a circle.

Part1. (The traditional game “When I go to California”: the first player says, “When I go to California, I’m going to take a trunk (or any other object).” The second says, “When I go to California, I’m going to take a trunk and a hat box…” The third player takes a trunk and a hat box and adds something new. Each player takes, in exact order, all that has gone before and adds a new object. If a player makes a mistake, that player cannot add an object and sits out until only one player is left.

Part 2. (The traditional game “When my ship comes in”): same team plays as above, but instead of saying “take my shoes”, for example, player acts out putting on shoes. Therefore, there is no speech in this game, only action. The next player repeats the first player’s acting out and adds a new one. Thus player will put on shoes and perhaps play a flute. Each player repeats, in order, all that has gone before and adds a new bit of action.

T: Give object their place in space!

Keep objects in space- out of head!

Part3. same team plays again as in Part 1, but with a new series of objects. This time, however, players take time to see each object as they listen.

T: (As fellow players add new objects):

Take time to see the objects!

See the objects as they are added.

Notes: 1. In Part 1 a player often will be able to remember every object or act in the series but, almost unbelievably, forgets the very last object named. Such a player has probably cut off his attention to the last player in order to pre-plan the object or act to be added.

  1.  However, when objects are acted out, players rarely forger preceding objects. Repeating Part 1 while seeing the objects named eases remembering for players.

Conclusions: did you see the word as it was spoken?

III Conclusions:

T: How do you like our lesson? What did you like most? What have you learned?

Homework: To write an essay “I can be a real actor!”

Our senses

(Theatre lesson 2 for children)

I Warm up

Listening to the environment

Purpose: To develop and appreciate the sense of hearing.

Focus: On hearing as many sounds as possible in the immediate environment.

Description: Whole group sits quietly with eyes closed for one minute or so and listens to the sounds of the immediate environment. Players take note of how many different sounds there are in the environment.

T: Hear all the sounds around you- whether the faintest of faint or the most deafening!


Hear as many sounds as possible!

Notes: remind players of how much of the world they understand through hearing and suggest tht they try to imagine what the world is like for those who cannot hear.

Conclusions: What sounds did you hear? (Have players identify as many sounds as possible?)

How many heard that sound?

Any sounds not mentioned yet?

II  Sensory Games

  •  Three changes

Purpose: To improve players’ powers of observing.

Focus: On other player to see where changes were made.

Description: Full group counts off into teams of two players each. All teams play simultaneously. Partners observe one another, noting dress, hair, accessories, and so on. Partners then turn backs on each other and each makes three changes in personal appearance: they part hair, untie a shoelace, switch watch to the other arm, etc. When ready, partners again face each other and each tries to identify what changes the other has made.

Notes: 1. By changing partners and asking for four changes, this game can be played with excitement for some time.

2. Change partners again and ask for five, six, seven, and even eight changes, observing the back for changes as well.

  •  Observation game

Purpose: To improve memory.

Focus: On fully and carefully observing a set of objects/

Description: Any number of players. A dozen or more real objects are placed on a tray which is set in the centre of a circle of players. After ten or fifteen seconds, the tray is covered or removed. Players then write individual lists naming as many of the objects as can be remembered. The lists are then compared with the tray of objects.

Notes: 1. Depending on the age of your group, add to or decrease the number of objects called for in the description.

2. Of course, this game is also useful in developing study skills.

  •  Who started the motion

Purpose: To view others critically.

Focus: On trying to keep the center player from finding the leader who starts the motion.

Description: Players stand in a circle. One player is sent from the room  while another player is selected to be the leader who starts the motion. The outside player is called back, stands in the center of the circle, and tries to discover the leader who is leading the other players through different motions (moving hands, tapping feet, nodding heads, etc.). Leader may change motions at any time, sometimes even when the center player is looking directly at the leader. When the center player discovers he leader, two other players are chosen to take their places.

T: (Only if leader does not change the motion often enough):

Leader, change your movement when you get a chance!

Watch for the change, other players, without giving the leader away!

  •  Mirror

Purpose: To help players see with the full body; to reflect, not imitate, the other.

Focus: On exact mirror-image reflection of the initiator’s movements.

Description: Players count off into teams of two players. One player becomes A, the other B. All teams play simultaneously. A faces B. Explain that B is a person looking in a mirror. A is the person’s image in the mirror. A reflects all movements initiated by B, head to foot., including facial expressions. After a time, positions are reversed so that B reflects A.

T: B, start moving!

A, reflect!

Big full-body movements!

Reflect only what you see! Not what you think you see!

Keep the mirror between you!\reflect fully- head to toe!


Now A start movement and B reflect!

Know when you start movements!

Know when you start mirroring!


Notes: 1. Watch for assumptions, which prevent reflection. For example, if B makes a familiar movement, does A anticipate and assume the next move, or does A stay with B?

2. Watch for true reflection. If B uses right hand, does A use right hand or opposite hand? Do not bring this aspect of the game to players’ attention cerebrally. Playing “Who is the mirror?” (following) will bring an organic understanding of reflection.

3. Changeover to reverse should be made without stopping the flow of movement between players.

  •  Who is the Mirror?

Purpose: To prepare for “Follow the Follower” (following)

Focus: On concealing from audience which player is the mirror.

Description: Teams of two, with an audience. Before “calling curtain”, players decide which player will be the initiator and which the mirror. This game is played in exactly the same way as “Mirror”, except that the teacher doesn’t call out “Change!”. One player initiates all movement, the other reflects, and both players attempt to conceal which one is the mirror from the audience players. When the two players are moving, the teacher calls out the name of one player. Audience members raise hands if that player appears to be the mirror. Teacher than calls out the name of the other player for audience hands. Both players continue playing during the voting without stopping, until the vote is unanimous for one or the other player or until stalemate is reached. T: (to audience) Which player is the mirror?

  •  Follow the follower

Purpose: To give players a sense of themselves and their union with others through reflection.

Focus: On following the follower.

Description: Teams of two, with an audience. One player becomes the mirror image of the other, the initiator. Teacher will start the players playing “Mirror”, calling “Change!” at intervals for players to reverse roles. When players are initiating and reflecting with full-body movements, call, “On your own!” Players then immediately begin reflecting each other without either one knowing who is initiating movement.

T: Reflect!

Reflect only what you see-not what you think you will see!

Change!   (Teacher may enter the playing area to check player initiations.)

Use your whole body!

You are on your own!

Follow the follower!

Keep the mirror between you!

Follow the follower!

Notes: 1. Start players on their own only when they are in full-body motion. This will ensure that the mirror has something to observe\reflect.

2. This is tricky- players are not to initiate but are to follow the initiator. Both are at once the initiator and the mirror. Players reflect themselves being reflected.

Conclusions: (during actual play, to a moving player):\

T: Did you start that movement?

Or did you reflect what you saw?

Audience, do you agree with this player?

III Conclusions& Home assignment

Did you like these games? Why?

Write an essay “What do I see in the mirror?:


(Theatre lesson 3 for children)

I Warm up

  •  Part of a Whole object

Purpose: To make players independent.

Focus: On becoming part of a larger object.

Description: One player enters the playing area and becomes part of a large object or organism (animal, vegetable or mineral). Examples include a machine, clockworks, abstract mechanisms, animals, natural elements. As soon as the nature of the object becomes clear to another player, he or she joins as part of the whole. Play continues until all are participating and working together o form the complete object. Players may assume any movement, sound, or position to help complete the whole.

T: Use your whole body to become your part!

Join in!

Be brave!


Become another part of the object!

There are no right answers!

Notes:. The teacher should use sidecoaching to help single players join in, those who fear they may be guessing wrong about the object that is forming, or those who rush to join in without awareness of the whole.   

Conclusions: T:  What was the whole object?

What did you think it was before you joined?

  •  Part of a whole, occupation

Purpose: To define a character through characteristic behavior.

Focus: On becoming part of a whole occupational activity.

Description: Teams of five or six players agree on a first player, who secretly decides on an occupation and starts an activity related to it. Other players join in one at a time as definite characters (the Who) and begin or join in an activity related to the occupation. For example, first player washes hands in air, second player becomes a nurse, enters playing area to help doctor put on gloves. Other players become anesthetist, patient, intern.

T; Show!

Don’t tell!

Join the activity as a definite character!

Become part of the whole!

Show through activity!

(If dialogue emerges): Share your voice!

Notes: 1. Players are not to know ahead of time what the first player is doing or who he or she is.

2. If the players become too verbal or move around aimlessly, focus is not complete. Call time or go on to another game.

3. Even though the “Who” is added here, take care that focus is kept on the activity or players will begin to “act”.

4. If students have difficulty relating to an activity, point out that members of different professions have different attitudes and interests. Doctors, writers, plumbers, deliverymen, custodial workers, real estate salesmen will enter the same room looking at different things and demonstrating different interests.

Conclusions: T: Audience, what was the occupation?

Did players show or tell?

Players, do you agree?

Before joining in, what did each player think the occupation was?

Audience, did you have different ideas of what was happening?

Active presentation

  •  Where Games (Setting\ Environment)

Prior to presenting the Where games, hold a discussion with the group along the following lines:

“How do you know where you are?” If you get no response, try a different approach.

“Is it true that you always know where you are?”

“No. Sometimes you don’t know where you are.”

“True, you may be in an unfamiliar place. How do you know where you are at any moment of the day?”

“You just know.” “You can tell”. “There are no signs”.

“How do you know you are in the kitchen?”

“You can smell the cooking”.

“If there were nothing cooking, how would you know?”

“By where it is.”

“What do you mean?”

“By where it is in the house.”

“If every room in he house were moved around, would you still know which room was the kitchen?”

“Of course”


“By the things in the room”

“What things?”

“The stove.” “The refrigerator.”

“Would you know the kitchen if it had no stove or refrigerator in it? If it were in the jungle, for instance?”



“It would be a place where they get food ready.”

And so, through examples, discussion, answering of detailed questions, the players conclude that, “We know where we are by the physical objects around us.”

When this basic premise has been agreed upon, become more specific:

“What is the difference between an office and a den?”

“An office has a desk and a telephone.”

“Isn’t this also true of most dens? What might a den have that an office wouldn’t have?”

“Photographs, rugs, lamps.”

“Couldn’t these be in an office?”

On a blackboard, set up two columns under the headings of den and an office. Now ask the group to call out items which might be found in each place, listing each under the proper heading.

Eventually, it will become apparent that differences do exist; while both locations might have a desk or a water cooler, one is more likely to find a copying machine or intercom system in an office than in a den.

II Where-games

  •  Airport

Purpose: To encourage players to collaborate in the creation of a “Where”

Description: Masking tape or chalk is used to outline a rectangle approximately 4 feet by 12 feet. This represents an airport landing strip. Objects of various sizes (books, boxes, cans, chalkboard erasers, shoes, etc.)  are placed randomly in this area.

Players count off into groups of two. (One blindfold is needed for each pair.) One player is the pilot, who stands at one end of the rectangle, the other player is the “control tower” at the opposite end of the rectangle. Because of poor visibility, the tower must guide the pilot to  a safe landing at he end of the runway nearest the tower. To play, the pilot is blindfolded and now must rely on the tower to get through obstacles. To make a safe landing, the pilot mustn’t touch or knock over any object or step out of the rectangle. The tower guides the pilot by calling out, “Left foot- slide forward. Stop! Right foot- step right. Stop. Lift left foot high- higher- now forward- a little more- put it down,” and the like. The game is over when an obstacle is knocked over or the pilot steps out of the rectangle, or has avoided all objects and steps out the far end. Several rectangles can be set up and used by several teams at he same time.

Note: For players who are not yet clear on left and right, make small four-inch squares of cardboard, half of them covered with sandpaper, the rest smooth. One smooth square and one with sandpaper is given to each pilot and tower. (The sandpaper is held in the right hand, say, and the smooth square in the left.) the tower then calls, “sandpaper foot forward! Smooth paper tiny step…” etc. doing this can help young players distinguish between right and left.


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