Warm-Up of the Week: Beach, Boat, Bank

This is such a fun game to play! Try this one for an energetic classroom warm-up to get the blood going on these ever chillier mornings!

1. Have the class line up along one side of the room. They are all facing the same direction. This is the “beach.”

2. Next, have the whole line move forward to the centre of the classroom. This is the “boat.”

3. Finally, have the whole line move forward again to the other side of the classroom. This becomes the “bank.”

4. Repeat the positions but for each position the students must come up with a frozen position which represents that they are on either a “beach, boat or bank.” Try also to incorporate level. So, for example, when on the beach the frozen action may be lying down and sun baking. When on the boat they may be standing and looking through binoculars or pulling up an anchor.

5. Once the students have worked out their frozen positions the teacher then calls out either “beach”, “boat”, or “bank” in any order. The last person to get to the correct part of the room and in their frozen position is out.

Warm-Up of the Week: The Name Game

For many us we are in the first few weeks with our new classes and we are taking the opportunity to play fun little warm up games in order to start building a safe, fun learning environment and one in which everyone knows each others names! I was introduced to this one through a program I was given by my colleague who in turn received it from another colleague of ours Anthony Q. Many thanks to him for this.

1. Begin my having students walk around the room in neutral.

2. At different points call out a number. Students must then make a group with that many people in it.

3. Once they have formed the group, they must say their name. E.g “I’m Emily.”

4. Once each person has said their name, the whole group must chant everyone’s name together at the same time. E.g “Emily, Sarah, Kate, Tom.”

5. As the group becomes more confident, ask them to add an action or movement to use as they are saying their name. Everyone in the group must then chant the name and copy the action.

6. Bring the class together into one large circle. Go around the circle and have each student walk into the centre of the circle, complete their action and say their name and then walk back. You could get everyone in the class to copy the name and action just like they did in their small groups as a further variation to the exercise.

This exercise really encourages movement, energy and characterisation.

5 Quick Ways to Get Your Drama Class Off to a Great Start

It is upon us. The beginning of term. The term when we establish rules, routines and relationships. Term 1 is hard going for that reason. Your Drama lessons need not be however. Here are some suggestions to make the beginning of term an enjoyable one that your kids will want to stick around for.

1. Get to Know Your Students

The first day can always be bogged down with course overview information, assessment schedules and topic summaries. Absolutely essential of course. It is also necessary to find out about your students. Do they even want to be in Drama? What do they think Drama is? How can you better tailor your lessons to their needs if you don’t know anything about who you are teaching? This simple survey is a really easy way to not only find out about their interests but get a snapshot of their understanding of drama, their expectations and even how well they write! Literacy in action without them even knowing it!

2. Get Your Students to Know Each Other

I’m always amazed at how kids from the same grade, who have most likely been in classes with each other before, do not know each others names. Honestly, it astounds me. So I place a lot of emphasis on playing “getting to know you” type games and getting them to build relationships with students that they may not know well or not have worked with before. I like The God Game. In the getting to know you version you replace the numbers with names. Simple, yet effective.

Another really simple game is to have your students form two circles: one facing out, the other facing in. Each person should be facing someone. Have each person have a 30sec-1minute conversation with the person opposite them before you ring a bell or make some sort of noise to indicate that the outer circle should move one step to their left so that they are in front of someone different. Then you begin a new conversation with your new partner. At the end of the game, each person must share one thing they learnt about one of the people they were talking to. If anything, it’s a great way to teach kids about making sociable, small talk when amongst strangers!

3. Build Trust and A Safe Performance Space

This one is important and probably takes the most time. I like to focus a lot of my warm-up games at the beginning of lessons around this premise. You could try:

Falls – Have students pair up, with Person A standing behind Person B. Person B will fall back only to be caught by Person A. At first, stand close together to build confidence. As the person becomes more confident, stand further apart. Swap and repeat.

Lifts - I like to do this with the whole class. You will need some crash mats. One person lies flat on the crash mat like a plank of wood. Everyone else in the class is to surround the person on either side. Ensure the head and bottom are supported. They place their hands underneath the person and on the count of three lift the person up above their head. Everyone has to work together on lifting the person up and placing them back down on the crash mat gently.

I never pressure kids to do this one and I always give them another opportunity a few weeks down the track to have another try if they were nervous about doing it the first time.

I also love the game Knots to build communication and team work. You might also like to incorporate the creation of some class rules at this point. Linking in expectations about safety and respect. You might do this collaboratively or bring all the activities together and connect them to the expectations of every class.

4. Encourage Failure and Silly Business

My rule is “if you don’t feel silly when you’re acting – you’re not acting”. We want to encourage our students to move beyond just being themselves on stage so we have to encourage a bit of silliness. If you are silly with them and show that you are not afraid to make an idiot of yourself you will earn major respect points. The beauty of Drama is that more often than not you are in the rough and tumble of play which puts you on their level far more than others subjects. You build fabulous relationships this way.

I make the point above about failure. It’s a harsh word and I don’t mean it to sound that way but you’ll find the kids use it. #epicfail anyone?

Often we get our kids to present their work to the class. This is necessary. It is important to also scaffold in through your questioning during presentations, ways that the students can become self-reflective and constructively critical about what they have presented and look at ways to improve and not simply see it as an #epicfail. It’s about turning perceived failures into positives.

5. Document the Process – Keep a Photo Blog

We ask our kids to keep logbooks and I like to keep one too! I love taking photos and short videos of my class. I keep them all together to create a little memento for them at the end of the year such as a calendar, photo album, photo disk etc. It’s a lovely way to track their journey and progress in class and you could even share it with other schools through apps such as Instagram or on a blogging site such as this. It is something they will treasure forever and ever. Just ensure you get permission from their parents and from executive first of course.

Remember: classrooms function when routines are repeated, reiterated and reinforced. Have some consequences up your sleeve for when, in all likelihood, this doesn’t always happen. All the best for the year ahead.

Photo Credit: Jin Jinto via Compfight cc

Warm-Up of the Week: I Feel The Spirit!

There are a couple of great groups on Facebook (aside from The Drama Teacher’s Network :-P ) that you may be interested in joining, if in fact, you have Facebook. In particular they are:

  • Drama Teachers and Those Interested in Drama Education
  • D4LC – Drama For Learning and Creativity
  • Drama Peeps

All three are well worth checking out with lots of suggestions and sharing of ideas for the classroom.

It was whilst I was checking them out that someone was looking for a warm-up game that was going to get their kids feeling energised. I immediately thought of a game that I hadn’t played in a while and that I hadn’t shared on the blog so I knew once I’d shared it with the group, I had to share it with you, my readers!

1.  Begin in a circle.

2. One person enters the circle and becomes the “Preacher.” They begin by shouting, “I feel the spirit!”

3. The group shouts back “I feel the spirit!”

4. The “Preacher” then shouts back, “I feel the spirit in my _________” Insert name of body part. The Preacher then moves that body part.

5. The rest of the group then repeat, “I feel the spirit in my _________” and the action.

The preacher/congregation style should get bigger and more passionate as each student gets a turn. Think of those amazing church preachers who are so passionate about sharing they get right into it.

This is a really fun game to boost energy and get physical! A must before your cast and crew are about to go on stage for their first show.

Warm-Up of the Week: Zombies

1.  All students walk around the room with their eyes closed and their arms crossed in front of their chest.

2. The teacher then taps a student on the shoulder to indicate that they have become the zombie. They will need to make a zombie noise that warns the others students.

3. The zombie then stretches their hands out in front of them in search of humans…

4. If the zombie squeezes a student on the shoulder they become a zombie also.

5. If two zombies squeeze each other on the shoulder they turn back into humans. They must give a big sigh to indicate that this has happened.

6. In large classes it is a good idea to split the students into two groups and use the second group as a barrier so the humans and zombies can’t escape.

This game was generously taught to me by one of my prac students Brielle. Thank you!

Warm Up of the Week: Streets & Alleys

First off, I wanted to apologise for not posting in some weeks. I haven’t had the Internet at my house for about 3 weeks. I’ve been upgrading and as you can imagine, telecommunications companies are somewhat special. In saying that though, now everything is roaring to go and working fantastically. So I thought I’d share a little game that I hadn’t played in a while with my students. It’s an old one but a good one. It’s also known as “Cat & Mouse.” This game is best played with a large group.

1. One students volunteers to be the Cat, another is the Mouse.

2. The other students in the class line up in rows, one behind the other. The rows should have an equal number of students in each. Each row should be separated by about a metre or so. The students put their arms up, touching hands with the person next to them. These become the streets.

3. The Cat starts at one side of the streets the mouse at the other.  The Cat must tip the Mouse but can only move between the streets. Any cutting through walls is not allowed.

4. The Teacher at any time can call out “alleys.” All the students in the rows can turn to their left, creating the alleys with their hands touching the person in front of them rather than the person next to them.

I have lots planned for the blog in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

Warm Up of the Week: Zip Zap

I pulled out an old favourite this week to play with my students. Give this one a go when you want to build energy, test reflexes and concentration.

1. Start in a circle.

2. Students clap their hands, turn to their left, make eye contact with the person next to them and say “Zip!”

3. Each student does this around the circle until the Zip returns to the starting person.

4. Students then clap their hands, turn to their right, make eye contact with the person next to them and say “Zap!”

5. Each student does this around the circle until the Zap returns to the starting person.

6. Start off with “Zip” again but at any time, any one in the circle can change the direction to “Zap!”

7. Students can also re-direct the energy flow by saying “Boing!” across the circle. The person it is directed at needs to duck quickly and then continue to pass the energy flow around the circle in either direction.

8. If a person is too slow when they duck they are out.