Whether your child is a natural actor or a wallflower, creative play and theatre activities will inspire your whole family to play together. The benefits of introducing your child to dramatic play at an early age are numerous. Dramatic play improves cognitive development, social skills, communication, motor skills and emotional development. Young children have vibrant and active imaginations; do you play a role in your child’s imagination games? You can!
Begin with your favorite book. Read it out loud a few times over the period of a week to get a feel for the story. Younger children will learn key dialogue moments just from repetition. Older kids might enjoy the task of adapting the story, and writing out the dialogue. Ask the question, how can we act this out? Brainstorm ideas together.
The next step is to act it out. Pick characters. Parents should definitely play roles too. If there are too many characters, have each actor play multiple roles. If there aren’t enough characters in the story for your family, add some more. Theatre teaches us to be team players and problem solvers. How can everyone take part in the story? Make sure to listen to your child’s ideas, and try them out. You may have a budding director on your hands. Rehearse your story a few times. Like anything else, the sillier you are by changing your voice, exaggerating your movements, the freer and exaggerated your child will be. Theatre can teach us communication skills. Ask questions like, “How can you use your voice to tell the audience about your character?” “How can we use your body to tell the audience what happened next?”
Now for the flourishes; dig though your closet to find something that signifies the character. You don’t need to go overboard, use common items you can find around the house! Set the stage. How can you transform your living room rug into a duck pond? You could even invite your friends and extended family to come watch the play in your living room! Make posters and tickets! Imagine how confident your child would be after putting on their own show for family, friends or neighbors. After bowing to that applause they’re sure to be a few inches taller!