Acting As Storytelling
Preschool aged children are among some of my favourites to teach. At this age, they are just beginning to socialize and are chalk full of curiosity. Sure, they might not be putting on Hamlet any time soon, but a drama class can be a great way to explore concepts of storytelling while having lots of fun!
The most important skill you’re teaching this age is creativity. What’s the difference between this and playing in the sandbox? Well, to be honest, very little! The main thing is that you’re conducting it and we have an overall objective: tell a story.
Working With This Age
If you’re new to teaching preschoolers, you’ll quickly learn that patience is key. You are taking part in shaping the classroom experience for them, so lots of reminders to stay focused and following instructions are important. I like to take a very lighthearted and patient approach: remind yourself that you will have to get their attention many times in a session and they will get tired and cranky. Your job is to support them. If you are lucky enough to have an assistant to take care of a teary toddler or potty breaks, it is always useful and can take pressure off of you so that you can focus on facilitating the activities.
Starting Your Class
I always do something to get the blood moving so that they feel physical and ready for action! Songs like “head, shoulders, knees & toes,” are great, along with side stretches and touching your toes. Once we’ve finished our stretching I have them repeat after me, “Today I’m going to try my best!”
Freeze Dance is fun and loved by all. If you can get your hands on some scarves for them to use when they’re dancing around, even better! Play some music and have them dance around with the scarves. Get them to really move the scarves around. This will emphasize a smooth quality! Then pause the music and they have to freeze still like a statue! When they are closer to age 3 I don’t like to play with outs, but if they are older they might want to play with elimination. The freezing emphasizes a sharper quality of movement. Plus it’s super cute!
It might be hard to get this age group to speak words out loud. That’s where this activity comes in handy. I recommend writing a simple story that you can cater towards your theme. In this example, I’m using a story about going to the Zoo. Other great ideas include: going to the Circus, or the Ocean. You can also go to your local library and find children’s books about these subjects if you prefer; there’s lots out there!
Tell them you are going to read them a story, but that they will be the pictures! I like to shape the story in the context of a day. Waking up, getting ready, exploring as different animals, and then saying good night and going to bed.
Music: Put on music without words. Circle of Life from Lion King is great for this one. Have this music on really low volume. Remind them that we all have to be lying down before the music can start and the show can begin!
It’s the morning and the sun is rising at the Zoo!
I’m so excited to see all the animals!
All the animals do a big yawn and a stretch.
There are monkeys
The Giraffe eats leaves from the tall trees for breakfast
Look, the tigers are brushing their teeth!
The elephants spray a shower from their trunks!
Look at the monkeys being so silly
The swans are graceful, like ballerinas!
The turtles are sooooo slooowwwwwww!
Look how fast the Cheetahs go! Oh my!
Look at the flamingos standing on one leg!
The Lions let out a big roar! “ROAR!”
I just love it here at the Zoo! But oh no, the sun is going down!
We say goodnight to the Lions as they go to sleep
The monkeys settle down
The elephants let out a big yawn.
Goodnight Zoo! What an exciting day
Have them stand up and take a big bow and give them a cheer.
It can be helpful to ask prompting questions if they are confused. “Can you show me what a monkey does?” “What do elephants look like?”
When you’ve finished your class for the day, have them stand in a circle and take a bow and thank you and your assistant.
Try to keep any coaching to attention-focusing and not telling them how to do their moves. They might need help though, so have you and your assistant do the actions along with them. If you are doing this class as part of a series, this can be their final performance that they practise each week. Try and work on consistency and facial expressions, with lots of encouragement with an overall focus of having a blast. All in all, this is a pretty simple and straightforward class, but it can be extremely fun!