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We're just finishing our first year of rotation. Bringing out costumes or puppets seems to enourage the children's playfulness. There's a lot of laughing and fooling around. I find it difficult to keep things structured given the nature of the workshop. They do seem to enjoy it and I think we make our Bible point. What are your experiences?
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At the beginning of the film "Jesus Christ Superstar" it shows the people on the bus getting the costumes out and preparing for their roles. If the kids are getting too crazy, you might show them that part of the film. You could say something like, "It makes me happy that you enjoy putting the costumes on, but sometimes we get kind of silly and we forget why we are putting them on. I want to show you a short video of some people putting their costumes on." You could have a short discussion on how did the people feel when they put on their costumes? Could you tell what character they were going to play? etc.

Hope this helps!

Julie Burton
I'd say "use the playfulness" and make it work for you. Listen to what the kids are saying/doing and pick up on a theme you can expand on that fits the lesson, or represents their anxiety about doing the lesson and work that through. If you use costumes often enough, the novelty of it will wear off soon (and so should giddiness related to that).

My experience with our kids is that a lot of the "sillies" either come from kids not really understanding what it is they're supposed to be doing, or the really creative ones get launched into a whole other zone and need to be brought back. Good direction (So, how do you think this person looked? felt? What was s/he thinking about do you suppose?) helps in either case.

Have fun!!
Our drama room is one of our "best loved" rooms. We have a very structured beginning to our story, then the acting activity. The kids don't get into costumes until the story is completed. They read the scripts/act out parts. Then remove costumes, put away and we sit and have our discussion questions.

Sometimes I feel a workshop leader has to set and enforce the expectation of respect. We teach the Christian Character Counts Pillars and work them into each rotation. Our volunteers deserve the time and attention of these kids. Silliness is great...but there's a time during the lesson for that, but we are here to learn.
One of the things we do to limit the crazies is to set out some costumes ahead of time... especially for the younger kids, rather than simply turning them loose in the closet. We also set limits on the amount of time we can use for costuming and we have LOTS of help. We have 2 shepherds for our youngest grade group and they are busy on drama weeks!

From Augsburgs, "Puppets, Kids, and Christian Education", I saw the idea to video tape the performances. Even if the kids never actually see the video, it helps to give them a reason to focus. We've done it some for the first time this year- for both drama and puppets which we alternate- using borrowed equipment. Our drama teacher has been happy with doing this. I think purchasing equipment for this purpose is moving toward the top of our wish list...

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