How to get kids to act

There’s nothing quite like spicing up an all age service with a bit of drama.
The nativity play is practically central to a children’s carol service.
A short sketch is ideal for getting kids to apply Bible teaching to their lives.

But how on earth can you get them to act?!

There are three things you need to warm up before you perform; body, voice and concentration. Here are some easy games that can help:

Name tag: Saima is ‘it’, she begins to chase Paul and just like in normal tag if Saima touches Paul he becomes ‘it’. However, unlike normal tag Paul has another way to escape: when he realises Saima is chasing him he can shout the name of anyone else in the group ie. Daniel. As soon as Daniel’s name is shouted he is now ‘it’ and can chase after Orla who can then shout someone else’s name.

4 things to do: Allocate 4 areas in the room A, B, C and D. Try not to make them all corners, you can mark them with chairs, if necessary, or say ‘by the stage’/’on the baptistry’/’behind the pillars’ etc. At each point give them an action that must be performed i.e. A: describe the last thing you ate, B: pretend to be your favourite animal, C: say a nursery rhyme in a foreign accent, D: mime being your favourite popstar. (To help smaller kids or those with SEN, draw a picture on a post-it to help them remember what to do.) Then you call out a letter and they run to that place and everybody performs at the same time OR you call out change and they can choose where to go next but everyone still performs at the same time.

Both these games warm-up body, voice and concentration while helping children to relax and not feel nervous.

The next thing kids need to do is portray a character:

Turn around: Get your actors to stand in a circle facing outwards. You name a character, count to three, they turn round as that character and FREEZE. Don’t let them get away with changing because someone is doing something different – if they think a footballer is dribbling rather than scoring that is right too! Try this list or write your own to suit your play; the key is to start generic, add emotions, then end with what you’ll need for your drama.
Ballet dancer,
Cross teacher,
Happy policeman,
Sad shoemaker,
Excited car driver,
Scared shepherds,
Angry king,
Sleepy Joseph,
Wise man,
Surprised Mary,
Terrifying Angels.

 Freeze frames: It’s an old drama standby for a reason… it works! Get all your kids to make a freeze frame for a point in the drama, set the scene as they think about it and remind them where the audience is (getting all the leaders/helpers to stand in one place helps). Pull one or two children out to be ‘eyes outside’; ask them ‘What looks amazing?’ ‘What is that person feeling?’ ‘Who can’t you see?’ and then let them join the freeze frame again. Try that for two or three points in the play (Bonus: this way everyone can have a go at being the charcter they want for a bit!)

Hope these tips and games help. Have fun!