Our kids are huge fans of warm-up games and ice breakers. With our Musical Theater class we have been able to employ all sorts of games new and old. Here’s a few of our favorites.

-THE STORY WEB: The story web is a fun game for the kids, and it jump starts their imaginations. We use a big ball of yarn, and have the kids hand it off to one another to create a story web. The kids  start by sitting in a big circle, as the game goes on they can choose to stand, kneel, continue sitting, or lay down during their section of the story so the “web” has different levels. The instructor begins with a starting sentence. For example: “The other day, I went to the park and…” It’s important to keep the sentence open ended so the kids are able to add their own touches. You continue the web until the entire ball of yarn has been used up. It’s amazing what interesting stories you’ll create with your students.

CHARADES: This one is tried and true. We get our kids involved by having them come up with what they will be acting out. We usually stick with four main categories: Books, TV, Movies, and Animals. We have set movements for each category so they are able to differentiate. They then write down what they and their peers will be acting out. In the past they’ve chosen things like “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “Unicorn”, and “Tarzan”. We usually let them act it out for about a minute. If they go for too long and no one is guessing what they are acting out both the actor and the audience gets bored. We encourage them to try a different movement, or to pick again from the categories. It’s really important to our classes to always keep moving and keep things interesting.

DIRECTOR’S CHAIR: We have a stage at our school, and the kids have loved learning “theater terms”. Terms such as upstage, downstage, stage right, left, etc. make up the vernacular of our “Director”. Each of the kids gets to sit in a chair in front of the stage. Sometimes we use music, sometimes they improv lines or movements. The game consists of the director calling out the names of each of their peers and positioning them onstage (downstage left, upstage right, center stage, etc.) The game allows them to feel more engaged in the technical part of the process. This comes in handy when it’s time to block plays. The kids know where they are supposed to be and where they want to be. It gives them a sense of purpose and intention when they are onstage.

IMPROV: We have a big group of kids. Improv is really fun in several different ways, and allows the kids to work in groups. One of our favorite things to do is assign a scene to each group, and allow them about 5-7 minutes to come up with a scenario. For example: Zombies at the grocery store. Walking through a park where the weather keeps changing. Going to a wedding for goldfish. Anything that we or the kids think of  can be done. It’s a fun time to be had by all. We like to throw a wrench in the cogs by adding to the scenario as it’s unfolding. During the scene we’ll add more details, like suddenly they are underwater, or there is a tornado full of pizza about to hit. We like to leave A LOT of room for the kids to use their imagination. Most of the time they will start with one scene, and wind up on something completely different. We love seeing their imaginations at work.

-FREEZE DANCE: You can never go wrong with Freeze Dance. The kids love to dance to their favorite music, and it’s a really great opportunity for them to come up with new and sporadic dance moves. We’re always sure to only use kid friendly music, and we try to keep things constantly moving and up beat. The game is incredibly simple. The kids dance and then freeze as the instructor pauses the music. Whoever doesn’t freeze sits out the game until the next round. We like to have them pose in different ways, for instance: pose as your favorite animal, pose as a shape, pose as a football player, etc. At the end of the game we usually let all the kids back in to have one final round of them dancing together. When we don’t have a play we’re working on, we like to use it as a way to end the day. Sometimes there’s an incentive to win the game like an extra snack, but for the most part we play for the pure joy of it.

If you have any ideas for new games for us, or if you would like to hear more about other games and techniques from our classes you can contact us at daniellehoutkooper@leapofjoy.org. Like our Facebook page for more updates and events coming up, and be sure to check out our weekly blog posts.

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