Teaching Drama to New Grade Levels

By July 7, 2015Advice Column, Blog

Dear Janea,

I’m getting ready to teach two elementary drama classes that start after the first of the year. I have taught a little high school drama but this is my first venture with elementary students. I will have a 2-3 grade class and a 5-6 grade class of about 16 students each. My objective is to have a lot of fun and prepare a short play (about 15 minutes) for each class to present. I will take any suggestions you may have to offer!

Cathy

Dear Cathy,

The key to working with younger kids is to keep them engaged, and to not worry too much about how great the finished product is. The class sizes you described are perfect for that age group. There are just enough kids to keep the energy high and still be able to have some structure with the group. If I were you, I would have a list of themes on hand, but first ask the kids what they would like to perform. Often, the best ideas come from the kids in the group. The younger kids love to act out stories they already know (fairytales, fables, myths, funny poems), while the older kids prefer skits, improv, or scenes based on real-life situations. I would suggest having each performance be a series of short pieces rather than one fifteen minute play. There are a couple of reasons for this. It is hard to find “ensemble” skits for these age groups, meaning that every young actor has a relatively equal part and is on-stage for a majority of the show. For the younger kids, the performance can be called something like, “An Afternoon of Funny Fables,” and for the older kids, an example can be “BUBBLE GUM-A Showcase of Skits by Kids.”

There are tons of ideas in Drama Notebook for great books to act out, improv situations, classic skits and more.

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

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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