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Wormy Note: The idea of projecting images and videos has been greatly expanded in this updated article.

Member Karen Carver originally posted this idea from public school materials she used.

Acting with overhead transparencies:
To present the story or as drama workshop create or copy teaching pictures on transparencies. I would "blank out" the biblical character(s)on the picture.

A child stands in the blank spot, becomes the character and can be interviewed about events, feelings etc. Also, the class could read the story from the Bible first then have multiple pictures for the children to take turns standing in place and deciding what the person might have been saying.

Seems to me this offers many ways to give children an opportunity to get into the story
Important to make a blank spot for the character so the picture isn't reflected on their face. A shepherd's staff coming out the nose will alter your planned outcome!

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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UPDATE: This "projection" idea has greatly expanded with the advent of LCD projectors and YouTube video content. See the article describing the technique.

A variation on this overhead projection idea...

Kids create background transparencies and special Bible character transparencies and project BEHIND a student(s) or "over" the students who stand and act in the projected light. Read the Bible story aloud as they interact with their transparencies. Humor is a good influence and help here!  To them, it seems like purposeful play.

Put projector on floor so that it doesn't appear directly behind students.

OR...find a thin somewhat transparent but slightly opaque plastic sheet and hang from ceiling. Then put overhead projector BEHIND the sheet effect creating a "rear projection." Pretty simple really, and the kids enjoy seeing themselves interact with each other and transparencies.

This method can also be used to create shadow puppets which the "live" actors can interact with. For example, a cut-out of waves can be moved back and forth across the projector to simulate waves. Or a cut-out or drawing of Jesus can be projected next to a kid.

Neil MacQueen

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Skit Books that include Overhead Transparency Background Scenes

Group Publishing put out a couple of books called "Big Action Bible Skits" for both Old and New Testaments. They have neat transparancies and scripts with directions for action and when to change the pictures. There are also discussion questions at the end of the script. I have used these often in our drama workshop. In fact, I kept one wall "beige" so the transparancies work better. It's a "must-have" resource! (OUT OF PRINT SEPT. 2006 - IF YOU SEE A COPY SOMEWHERE GRAB IT WHILE YOU CAN)

Julie Burton

Message edited by Exchange Volunteer to add book info:

Big Action Bible Skits: Old Testament, By: Christine Yount, Group Publishing, 1995, ISBN: 1559452587.- (Note title actually just says Big Action Bible Skits, Group.
"At last--drama for children that's both exciting and easy! Eight already-prepared overhead transparencies let you direct 10 favorite Old Testament Bible story skits. Just shine the overhead on the wall and presto: instant scenery!"

Scripts included for
Adam & Eve
Moses - Wandering 40 Years
Joshua (Fall of Jericho)
David & Goliath

Transparencies included
Wooded Setting
Water (Stormy)
People (Crowd)
City (Village)
Pillars and Walls
Road (Road up close/green grass)

Big Action Bible Skits: New Testament (by Christine Yount)- Group Publishing, 1998, ISBN: 0764420623.
"Here are 12 delightful scripts of the New Testament storied complete with 8 colorful transparency backdrops. You get the instant Bible drama that's easy, fun and puts everyone in the spotlight with the flip of an overhead projector!"

Scripts included for
The Birth of Jesus
John Baptises Jesus
Feeding 5000
Jairus' Daughter
Prodigal Son
Jesus Walks of Water
Peter's Denial
Empty Tomb
Philip and the Ethiopian
Paul Shipwrecked

Transparencies included
Road (Moutains & Road in distance) - more rocky
Water (Calm)
City (outside gates)
Desert / Beach

Last edited by Luanne Payne
We just started using our overhead projector to project images for backdrops. (Don't know why I never thought of this! Confused) There are so many images out there! If you google and search by "images" instead of "web" you can find pictures for any backdrop. We also you The Christian Click Art that Sunday Software sells, which has some very good art and photos.

The images can be printed using a color inkjet printer on the appropriate transparency films.

Obviously, the stage lighting is limited when you're using a projector, but it is so much easier to print a transparency than to paint a backdrop. And you can change your scenic backdrop several times within a play.

I know these notes are not real recent but maybe someone can explain to me---
An image is projected on a wall it becomes the backdrop to the drama, the children perform the drama in front of the wall--isn't the image blocked by the actors?
If the projector is shining on the wall isn't there a bright light blinding the actors?
I am obviously missing something, but I can't visualize the logistics of this.
Can someone descibe how this all works?
Yes, the children basically become shadows on the wall or screen. In my experience, they look at the shadows they are projecting, not at the bright light. If you had a set up where you had a large group, only a few of which are "on stage" it might not work. To an observer in the audience, it doesn't look great, but to the actors watching their actions projected onto a background it is cool.

It might have already been mentioned in this discussion, but many VBS kits -- especially Cook's -- have books of transparencies for scenery. Grab them before they get tossed and keep them in the drama room for this type of activity.

We used these "Overhead Transparencies Background Scenes" for Easter and had the children freeze in their poses and we took digital pictures.

  • The light shining on the kid's was not a problem, the darker coloured overheads showed up the best in the digital pictures we took.
  • Darker clothing (costumes) worked best as you did not see overhead on the children (white costumes will show overhead picture).
  • The light shining on the children from the overhead made taking the digital pictures easier.
  • The kids thoroughly enjoyed posing in front of the backdrops.
  • Their shadows showed up on the backdrop, just like the sun shining on them.
  • Big Action Bible Skits" for both Old and New Testaments mentioned above have been discontinued, but check online for copies still available and buy them before they are gone, they are well worth it.
Last edited by Luanne Payne

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