Drama Ideas for Middle School Camps

By July 2, 2017Advice Column, Blog

Dear Janea,

First of all, I wanted to thank you so much for the wonderful resources I have found on your website. They are extremely helpful and seem like a lot of fun.

I work for a nonprofit organization in Cleveland that works with low-income middle school students. I have worked with them for a year as a drama teacher, and I have taught three different sessions of drama. I have used up almost all of my drama ideas, and since I will be teaching almost all of the same kids again this summer, I am trying to find new, creative ideas to keep them engaged.

I am very interested in signing up for Drama Notebook, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to pay for it. Even though the monthly payment is only $10, I am a broke college student, and $10 is a lot to spend on this. The nonprofit I work for is also very low on money, and I don’t think that they would be able to pay for it either. Is there any way that I would be able to access some of the lesson plans for free? Even if I could see just a few more documents, it would really help.

Currently, I am struggling to find a play/skit that I can perform with 10-20 6-8th graders. I have 8 sessions of 50 minutes each with the students over a span of 2 weeks, and since many of them are not actually interested in theatre, I want to try to make it really fun and something where they don’t have to memorize a lot of lines. I had a great series of short skits that the kids adapted themselves last summer, and it went over really well, but I don’t want to do the same activity again, and I am running out of ideas. I also have 6 classes of 10-20 students, and I would like for each of their performances to be slightly different than the rest of the classes.

Any input you could give me would be greatly appreciated! And again, thank you so much for the worksheets I have already found on your website. Your dedication to helping people like me is inspiring.

Have a wonderful day!

Julia

Dear Julia,

Thanks for your kind words. I do try and keep the site affordable for everyone, but I understand that times are tough.

To honor the teachers who make paid contributions to the site, I am not able to give away any lesson plans/worksheets, but here are a couple of ideas for your summer sessions for middle school kids:

Kidz Do The News

Invite the kids to create their very own news broadcast. Ask students to create a news broadcast that centers on stories that are important to them and to their community.

Kids can be:

  • Anchors
  • Weather People
  • Man-on-the-Street
  • Sports
  • Human Interest
  • Health Watch
  • Money/Investments
  • Crime Reporter
  • Opinion
  • Politics
  • Commercials for Imaginary Products
  • Etc..

You could also turn it into “News for a World We’d Like to See.” The kids can pretend that the world is a much better place, and create a broadcast that portrays the world the way they want to see it. Let kids choose their own role in the production and don’t worry if there are two of some parts!

  • If you decide to have them report on “real” world events, ask them these questions:
  • How do you know if a story you see in the news is true?
  • Why do you think some stories get reported and others don’t?
  • What makes a story “news-worthy?”
  • If you could change one thing about network news, what would it be?

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Get a copy the entire collection from the library, and find some of the more gruesome stories. “Grimm” is a popular show right now, but many kids are not aware that the original stories were not at all like the Disney versions. During the first class, tell them one of the stories, and then let them know that it is a Grimm’s Fairy Tale. Break them into small groups and allow them to read through some of the fairy tales and decide as a group which one they want to act out. Give them the task of changing the story somehow. You could also choose to assign the same story to every group, and have them each present it in a unique way.

  • Add a character
  • Change the ending
  • Mix it with another story
  • Change the story to happen in modern time

Invite the kids to learn as much as they can about the story. Where did it originate? Did the Brothers Grimm change the story? Jacob and Wilhem Grimm were brothers who did not write the stories, they collected them from story-tellers and put them all together in a collection. In many instances, they changed certain aspects of the story to either make them more appropriate for children, or to turn the story into a moral lesson. If kids can develop a deeper understanding of how and why stories change over time, it can help them re-tell the story so that it is more relevant today.

I hope this helps you.

Janea

Janea Dahl
Creator and Author at Drama Notebook
Janea has a BA in theatre, and spent twelve years working in professional theatre. She was the founder of The Young Players www.theyoungplayers.com, the largest drama outreach program in her state. For nearly a decade, The Young Players served over a hundred schools, and employed over twenty teaching artists. Thousands of public school children and teens participated in her award-winning workshops each year.
In 2012, Janea sold Young Players to Northwest Children’s Theatre and School to serve teachers full-time on Drama Notebook. Read more
Janea Dahl

About Janea Dahl

Janea has a BA in theatre, and spent twelve years working in professional theatre. She was the founder of The Young Players www.theyoungplayers.com, the largest drama outreach program in her state. For nearly a decade, The Young Players served over a hundred schools, and employed over twenty teaching artists. Thousands of public school children and teens participated in her award-winning workshops each year. In 2012, Janea sold Young Players to Northwest Children’s Theatre and School to serve teachers full-time on Drama Notebook. Read more

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