Improv activities will make your drama lessons better
There is a very common misconception that teaching elementary drama is all about kids reading from a script. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen pre-made rubrics that focus on things like “memorizing your lines”.
Oof. Friends, I don’t know where you are, but here on Ontario there is not a single thing in the elementary drama curriculum about memorizing lines.
In fact, not only is there nothing in the drama curriculum about memorizing lines – there are actually very few references to scripts. (Don’t even get me started on reader’s theatre.)
Struggling readers are already at a disadvantage
Before students are even out of the primary years, they are already expected to be able to read in order to learn effectively in so many other subjects. Struggling readers often find subjects like social studies more difficult due to reading & writing skills being so woven into the content.
Why make drama more difficult for them as well?
For a struggling reader, having to read aloud (especially in front of peers) is a punishment worse than death. And yet, when out on the school yard, many of these same students are the most expressive, the most daring, the most creative.
When you take scripts out of the way, you level the playing field.
And when you take scripts out of the way, what you’re left with is improv.
What is improv?
Improv is a style of theatre in which you make things up on the spot. The famous TV show “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” is a very commercialized version of improv.
Improv is great for elementary kids because it doesn’t require reading skills at all. Even complete non-readers can participate in improv effectively.
Improv activities for elementary students prepares them for life – even if they are never going to be actors
Reading issues aside, there are many other great reasons for using improv with elementary students:
- improv teaches kids to problem solve and think on their feet
- improv helps students to be comfortable presenting in an authentic way (when you speak up at a meeting as an adult, you’re probably not writing yourself a complete script beforehand)
- improv helps students be more comfortable taking chances and making mistakes
- improv builds confidence and strong relationships
Improv is EASY for teachers to use
Not only is improv beneficial to students, it’s also incredibly easy for teachers to use. When you are teaching improv drama classes, you don’t need any scripts or other paper to photocopy and there are very few if any props required. All you need is a plan with specific improv exercises, and you’re ready to go!
Improv Lesson Plans & Activities for Elementary Students
These drama lesson plans take only 20 minutes per week, and contain improv activities for elementary students appropriate to each grade level.