DRAMA METHODS & IDEASFeatured Content

The following discussion is an "intro" to a "Drama Manual" or sorts. This entire forum is the rest of the manual!  Your thoughts are welcome.

 


 

Drama in the Rotation Model

 

The "Drama Workshop" in the Rotation Model is considered one of the four "original core workshops." Other "core" workshops include: Art, Video, and Bible Games.

 

One reason drama is considered a "core workshop" is because drama is a familiar teaching technique and can work well with just about any Bible lesson.

 

Sunday Schools have always incorporated skits and costumes, but in the WoRM, we take it a few steps further.  

 

We outfit an entire room with drama decor and props, and devote an entire lesson plan to teaching the Bible story through dramatic techniques. (The traditional model usually just snuck a quickie drama into the lesson plan,  "...3 minute scripts and box of bathrobes.")  Importantly, in Rotation we recruit a teacher who likes teaching through drama and isn't a stick-in-the-mude. Then we ask them to stay-put in that workshop each week as new groups come in. That ensures that their command of the drama lesson gets better each week.

 

Many Rotation drama lesson plans follow a familiar "script and costume" approach. But as the following brief article suggests, in Rotation we strive to move beyond that.

 

Whether you're teaching in Rotation or a Traditional Model, the following is sure to help.

 


  

The Drama Workshop: More than just scripts and costumes!

 

Do you automatically think "script and costumes" when you think of teaching a Bible story through Drama? Most of us do. it's a time-honored approach that has its time and place in our lessons. It's an easy concept to pull off if you have a kid-friendly script, props, scenery, and a little bit of staging. (In fact, you'll see a lot of those types of drama lessons and scripts here at Rotation.org.)  

 

But drama in the classroom can mean a whole lot more than standing in costumes and reading a script!  And drama can be used in more than one part of your lesson plan.

 

When looking at your lesson, ask these questions:

  • How can we dramatize the class introductions and opening?
  • How can we dramatize the Bible reading and discussion?
  • How can we move beyond costumes and scripts when dramatizing the story?
  • And how can we use drama to reflect or pray?

Dramatizing a Bible story can involve many things:  acting in character, using props as you talk, using fun voices and motions, conducting a "show" or interview, or simply altering how we read a passage, or changing the scene or cast of who's in the story.

 

 

Do you automatically think "just re-tell Bible story" when you think drama? 

 

There's a time and place to "play it straight" and just do the story.  But often, the real insights (and memorable fun) are found when you invite the kids to re-imagine parts of the story.

 

For example:

 

Change the WAY you present the drama.

Instead of kids reciting lines on a 'stage,' use other forms of presentation, such as, a shadow drama, or "radio broadcast."  These tweaks often take the pressure off kids to perform in an overly wordy or visible way. Feels more like "play" than "a play."

 

Change the characters.  What happens if the person playing Peter on the boat now has to do it as if they were The Hulk?  How would you retell the story if the Good Samaritan was Lebron James, or _____?

 

Change the scene. What happens when the man is let down through the school cafeteria roof?  What would the principal and students say?

 

Experiment with different character responses/choices during the story.  What would God have said if Adam and Eve had stood up and confessed their sin in the Garden?

 

Experiment with different endings. Imagine Superman arriving at the cross offering to help, what would Jesus say?

 

 

Your main drama activity does NOT have to be a recitation of the story. 
It can be a drama (or play-acting) about some aspect of the story.

 

For example, after your dramatic Bible study, your main dramatic activity can be setting up a "gameshow" or "interview show" or "news broadcast" ABOUT SOMETHING IN THE STORY, and not merely repeating the story itself. 

 

"We're standing here in the school cafeteria where Jesus has just healed a 5th grader lowered down through the roof, ...and here comes the principal... sir, sir, can I ask you a few questions?"  

 

"CNN reporting from the frontlines where Goliath has just come out and challenged Israel to a battle, ...Goliath, may I have a word with you?"

 

In this broadcast example it's often good to have a teacher or assistant be the interviewer. Prior to the newsbroadcast, the characters are assigned and they prepare some questions and responses that might be interesting.  Let them write-out key lines on cards or a flipchart cue-card.  You can even have fun "commercial breaks" in the middle of your show to "sell a product" (such as, "Today's Manna, for that worn out spirit. "Now in super-size.")

 

Studying stewardship and the Parable of the Talents? Do "The Price is Wrong" gameshow with things you don't want to win.

 

 

 


 

 

A few more drama ideas:

  • A Talk Show host interviewing people from the story.
  • Pantomine a "Silent Movie" version of the story as its read by others, or played from a video tape.
  • Play a movie for the class, but only let the actors see the screen. Tell them to try and act it out as they see it. This is a lot of fun, and very memorable.
  • Shadow puppets moving behind the screen to narration.
  • Shadow actors backlit behind a white cloth (with others doing the reading and SFX).
  • A News Reporter Interviewing people at the Scene of the Story
  • Record a Radio broadcast from Jericho reporting the arrival of Jesus. You can do this fully scripted, OR... have only the dramatic reporter using simple lines that cue the other players to act and say things, such as, "I can hear the crowd start to mumur."  And... "now they're starting to accuse Zaccheus of being a bad guy."  The kids respond to the narration and do their own sound effects. Record using a laptop with a built-in microphone. Play back for fun and great discussion.
  • A "dance version" of the story where people dance through their part.
  • A mixed up characters version, where each person has a secret identity that they must act like and modify their scripted lines to match their character (you're a cop, you're afraid, you're an alien, you're a talking monkey)
  • A "frozen statues version" of the story where the kids form the scene then someone reads it.
  • Ninja Movie version of Mary and Joseph coming to 'extract' Jesus from the Temple
  • The Hulk tries to walk on water with Jesus.
  • The Avengers show up at the cross to try and rescue Jesus, but Jesus explains why he is doing it.
  • Iron Man offers to help Jesus but Jesus says...
  • Interviewing the "bad guys" in the story is always interesting.
  • Play the audio from a movie but have kids in character acting out the audio. Sometimes I'll even have the kids stand in front of the screen while the movie is projected over them so they can watch it.

 


 

IMPORTANT TIPS:

 

Play acting requires a lot of teacher energy and fast thinking, -and that's why the selection of a gregarious teacher who loves doing voices (and is a bit goofy) is key to making the drama workshop work. A sedate teacher who can't get out of their own chair doesn't belong in the drama workshop.

 

Leading these types of drama requires some IMPROVISATIONAL SKILLS on the part of the teacher ("think fast" skills) and some practice on the part of the kids. This is why you want to leave plenty of time in your drama lesson for preparation. Often, the teacher will show the kids how they might act. The more they do it, and sometimes the more silly, --the more they'll drop their guard and get into it.  (We're not goofing around, we're creating a deep memory of the story through "play.")

 

Use kids' natural competitiveness and creativity to spur each other towards better "performances."  For example, have two groups do two different versions of "The 5th Grader Let Down Through the Roof." The second group will naturally want to try harder.

 

Change the way you do your drama from rotation to rotation. Some kids fear speaking in public or acting. Mix it up.

 

Videotaping your skits is a great way to get the kids to rise to the task and perform on cue. And it's okay if they get it wrong the first time. Doing it a second time with improvements is a great way to learn, and will give the teacher plenty to point out and discuss.

 

It's always great to have a couple of Senior High "hams" helping in the Drama Workshop. In fact, you could say it's REQUIRED.  They will be great at providing suggestions, setting the tone (helping kids come out of their shell), working in small groups on scenes to be presented, and acting with the kids (which can help move the scenes along and be quite entertaining).

 


 

-from a set of Drama Ideas provided by Neil MacQueen

 

Creative Dramatics (or narrator's script):


The teacher/narrator reads a "creative dramatics script" or just guides the children through the story using suggestions.

 

This technique is based on my work as a childrens' librarian, where books are re-enacted using creative dramatics.

The scripts I include in my lesson plans are to help the teacher (who may not be comfortable with drama) lead the children as they recreate the story in their own words. The children do not have scripted lines to read, so they can focus on remembering the story they have internalized rather than on reading words off of a page. So I guess you could call what I write a narrator's script (with notes on things to say to the children to help them feel out the parts of the story and portray them in an informal way).

I usually take the scripts straight from the Bible, with clarifications (mostly to add historical background or reminders of related stories or action that may have preceded the story being studied) and deletions (I leave the dialog out so the children can create and amplify and imagine what else may have been said).

I sometimes use this technique with puppets instead of human actors (the children are sometimes more free and creative when they are not personally "on stage."

 
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"This is Your Life" Drama Format

 

Here's an idea that is working great for us, based on Ken's suggestion in the May 2004 Newsletter.

 

Example:

 

We're doing Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus, and we're using a "This Is Your Life" format in our drama workshop.

 

Several important people from Saul's past appear, and we get to know Saul from their stories.

 

We have Rabbi Gamaliel, Stephen (the first Christian martyr), Ananias, Judas of Damascus (whose house Saul went to on Straight Street, according to Acts 9:11), a witness to his conversion the road, and a Pharisee.

 

It's been fun, and a different approach for us. Thanks for the tip, Ken!

 
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Preschooler's in Drama

 

We do rotation (modified) in our preschool area.

 

One thing we have used successfully is adapting the story into one of their popular TV shows like DORA THE EXPLORER.

 

Just did David's anointing today and it worked great.

 

This could easily be adapted to any story. The kids really get into it.

 
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moved here from Help I'm New ....compiled and reformatted by volunteer Moderator.




SHADOW PLAYS - "HOW TO"

 

Compilation of posts by:

Deborah Diehl (posted February 26, 2001)

SheilaB (posted August 22, 2002)

Jaymie Derden (posted August 14, 2002)

Amy Crane (posted March 31, 2003)

Luanne Payne (posted Aug. 22, 2014)

 

 

WHY USE SHADOW PLAYS:

  • Kids really like this one -- it is really different and is good for younger kids who can't handle much dialogue and for kids who are shy about speaking parts.
  • And it's SO MUCH FUN!

 

 

SCREENS:

 

  • White Sheet - for a full body shadow play Stretch a white sheet or white cloth between posts, walls, double doorway, over stage curtain rod, something that will have the sheet reasonably taut and secure.
  • Plastic Shower Curtain: stretched on a frame and attached with big black office binder clips .
  • I have a puppet theater and I just taped white paper over the entrance and clipped a light so that it shone on the paper.

 

LIGHTING:

 

  • Shine a bright light on the sheet. (The light goes behind the white sheet and behind the actors so that their shadows are cast on the sheet.) The children act the play behind the sheet giving the audience on the other side the shadow image.
  • Position church's overhead projector behind it for the light.
  • Clip a light to a puppet stage so it shines on the paper.

 

 

CHARACTERS - USING CUTOUTS

 

  • We use black posterboard for the shapes and tape on covered floral wire sticks for the handles.   Sketch the basic shapes onto the black posterboad --don't get too elaborate--and then the kids cut them out during class.
  • Make cutouts from stiff black poster board and attached sticks that could swivel to the backs.
  • The actors stand behind the light because they used cut outs for the shadows. 
  • For the plagues my teacher took clear plastic and made a frame from core board and attached the plastic with whatever plague drawn on it with markers.  SheilaB (posted August 22, 2002)
 
 
SCRIPTS:


It is usually done with narration. 

 

  • For scripts use children's bible story books. Read the story, then they re-inact it. 
  • First read them the story, discuss.  Then re-read the story and have the children take turns (may do it in groups if you have a large group) they act it out as you read.  You can add to the story drama by adding exaggerated movements to your dialog example:  The Good Samartian - The priest RAISED HIS ARMS in surprise.  Then he LOOKED SLOWLY TO THE RIGHT AND SLOWLY TO THE LEFT to make sure no one was watching.

 

 

OPTIONS:

 

  • Freeze Scenes

    It may also be done with "stills." In other words, the children get in position and hold that position while the narration occurs, like a photograph. Then for the next scene, they get into a new position and hold that position.
  • Puppets

    Shadow plays may also be done with puppets. For puppets the white sheet is just large enough to cover the front on the puppet area and once again is taut and secure and the light definitely shines from the back. Keep in mind when you are using puppets for the shadows, you may want to use a puppet that gives definition to the shadow.

 

 
RESOURCES
 
  • Web-site: http://www.sagecraft.com/puppe...initions/shadow.html that might be of help rhondab (posted August 07, 2002)
  • Book: There is a book by Kurt Hunter called "Puppets, Kids and Christian Education" by Kurt Hunter, Augsburg Fortress, 2001, 9780806664095.

    This is wonderful and will give you lots of good instructions for what you are looking for. (JanS (posted August 07, 2002) 

     

    The Kurt Hunter book mention above is what I used--it is great.  Amy (posted March 31, 2003)

 

 


PHOTOs see link.
 

 
 
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THERE ARE METHODS TO THIS MADNESS
Chicago & Detroit Workshops

DRAMA

Action story
Adults as characters
Attend performance
Choral reading
Debate
First person monologue
Foreign film – two actors, two readers off stage
Improvisation
Interview
Mello drama
Mime
Plays with scripts
Poetry reading
Props
Puppetry
Reader’s Theater
Role play
Round robin
Script
Shadow Play
Streamers
Video tape
 
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More suggestions from recent CEF Methods workshop --

Act
Audience Participation
Brown Bag Drama
Diorama with children
Dramatize announcements
Living nativity
Monologues
Musical
Open-ended situations
Saturday Night Live
Sequence
 
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Bringing the Rotation Story to the Congregation through Interactive Drama

We try a few times each year to bring the story we have been studying in Sunday school to the congregation. In our church we have children's story time, usually an object talk done by the minister. Occasionally, I will let him know I'd like to take over children's time the last Sunday of a our rotation.

Generally, I involve some or all of the children, some or all of the congregation through storytelling (with participation) or drama. Most often it involves humor and requirements are:

  • the material must be simple
  • either no props or very simple props
  • scripts (a copy for each participant often copied on front/back cardstock and part highlighted for ease of reading)
  • I prefer - narrating story and having the kids act it out.
  • length of 5-10 minutes.

Sometimes we will do the drama we have done in our Drama workshop.

Sometimes I will pull children and congregation members from their seats and we do the skit with no warning, practice, or prep (always fun and always a hit).

I will often take a part (crowd, women, God, Holy Spirit, Soldiers, nature, sound effects, etc.) and make the congregation take that part - this now gets everyone involved.

I will type up overheads of their lines and have my assistant run the overhead. So they will know when it's their turn to speak I always do an introduction by saying "... and the Crowd said..." and also doing an exaggerated rolling motion towards them with my hand - they may sing their lines, do them in rolling rhyme, or with an accent. I practice a couple of times with them so they understand what I want - and sometimes with a bit of encouraging fun help them get their inner child to feel free to come out and play.

For material anything by author Stephen James is excellent. I've also often found good skits or interactive stories by searching on the internet. Sometimes just adjusting the material to suit my needs or reading from a storybook.

The Sunday school does two full church services a year. One before Christmas and one the 1st of June. This June we will be bringing the Fall of Jericho to the congregation. We have a small rural church with a balcony. We will be blocking off the back 3 rows of pews. The people of Jericho will be in the balcony with Rahab and 2 spy puppets, a red rope, and several Styrofoam bricks. The Israelites, priests with horns, and Joshua will be marching around the congregation below. I will be dressed as a high priest (who will be retelling the story and giving directions as I go to the actors.) The spies will be lowered from the balcony (2 puppets attached to a red rope) and when the walls fall they will really fall as the bricks are dropped from above.

I can guarantee you that half the congregation will have found themselves sitting down with their bibles the following week to read the book of Joshua and they will chuckle away as they remember falling bricks and a spy who had his eyes covered as he slithered down the rope to safety!

 
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