Four Reasons to Understand the Function of Drama Games

When you head into the classroom it can be easy to lean on tried and tested activities. With younger kids, it’s often simpler to go with their favourite drama games to keep everyone happy. However, when you do this it’s easy to lose sight of the purpose of each activity. But why is it important to know the function of drama games?

To more effectively plan your sessions

If you have a clear understanding of each game’s purpose, you can confidently plan sessions tailored to your class’s needs. This could mean that you’re looking for an activity to calm and focus young kids. Maybe you’re looking for a new way to teach English language skills. If you know your actors need to improve their vocal performance, what games are most effective at teaching them about vocal quality? When you’re trying to teach a particular skill in class, an understanding of your tools is essential. Games can be a fun way to teach a skill without your class even noticing that they’re learning!

To manage the energy levels of your group

Managing energy levels can be difficult in the classroom. While you need your kids energised and engaged, too much energy can lead to a myriad of problems. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a little break and play a quick game to readjust the energy level. A quick boost or focus can make all the difference to the overall effectiveness of your classes. Understanding the function of drama games helps you pick the right activity at a moments notice. You may even be able to teach an additional skill while stepping out of your original plan.

Because someone will always question you

Whether it’s a parent, another teacher or a student, at some point or other you will be asked what the point is. Sometimes people came to our Prague Youth Theatre trial sessions and asked if we would ‘just’ be playing games each week. While this wasn’t the case, I did explain that playing some games to start and end each session had many benefits.

Sometimes even my students would get fed up and want to spend more time rehearsing. While the bulk of the kids loved playing games, there would always be one or two who would see it as a waste of time. They would ask why we were playing games when we could be undertaking more ‘serious’ acting training. When I could explain how each game helped them as an actor, I had a happier class. Just let your critics know that they are being taken seriously and that there is a method to your madness.

There are different schools of thought on whether you should vocalise the function of each game as it’s played. Whether you choose to share this information or not, it’s always important to have it in case you are asked.

To ensure the usability of your activities

As said above, my students sometimes want to undertake serious actor training. As a professionally trained actor myself, I can confirm that many of the games I play with my six-year-olds, I played at university. Most drama games are scalable and the ideas used with my youngest students are just a more accessible version of an acting exercise I encountered as an adult.

By having a firm grasp on the function of drama games, you can adapt them to any situation. I have used drama games as ice-breakers in a corporate setting and many of them are great tools for teaching English, regardless of your students’ age. The more understanding you have, the more you can continue to utilise the benefits of activities with all of your students.

Rebecca is the founder and chief executive officer of Silly Fish Learning Ltd. She is a children's playwright with a vast and varied career in education, primarily teaching drama and English.

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