Theater Games For Kids
Use theater games to support children in building focus, creative problem solving, and cooperation. Kinesthetic (physical) learners will especially benefit from this educational approach. Theater teachers, parents, scout group leaders, and other educators can use theater games for young kids to support learning.
Kinesthetic learners will jump right in when given the opportunity to play theater games.
Even the simplest theater activities can build a child’s confidence and skills. Theater games utilize two of children’s biggest assets, imagination and energy, to build on their ability to focus, creatively problem solve, and cooperate.
Children as young as four will learn to follow directions, work together, and think flexibly. Preschoolers, kindergartners, grade school students, and older kids will enjoy learning through acting warm-ups and theater games.
* Introductions: Getting children to say their first name is an important step towards confidence and presence. Young children can say, “Hello, my name is…and I like…” If children are ready, they can choose something alliterative that they like, for example, “Hello, my name is Candace and I like Cats.” Older kids can turn this into memory game in which you repeat everyone who has gone before you and then add your own. For a younger or more shy group, you can choose a “hello song” in which the whole group sings hello to each child in turn and wiggles a different part of the body (“Let’s wave hello to Bethany…let’s wiggle our fingers to Liam,” etc.)
* Warm Up: There are so many great theater warm-ups that are appropriate for kids of all ages: Shay Shay Coolay, Zip Zap Boing, anything that gets the group up and moving is good.
* Imagination Game: Kids three to six will love the idea of a passageway to an imaginary land. You can use a doorway, a curtain, or a tunnel. When kids emerge from the tunnel, they pretend that everything was really heavy, or silly, or that they had turned into something with wings. With older kids, you could introduce simple scenes here.
* Dancing/Movement: After all that hard work, get up and moving again. With younger kids, I recommend either dancing to a song that calls out the moves (Alligator Jump, alligator slide, all the alligators like to move from side to side…) or giving the kids instruments and leading them in a parade around the room.
* Cooperation Game: At this point, bring everyone back into the circle to re-focus their energy. You could play a game like passing energy around the circle through a gently squeezed hand, keeping up a balloon, or trying to count to ten without anyone calling out the number at the same time.
* Cool Down: Put on some quiet music and lead the children through a guided imagery exercise (Imagine you are in your favorite place, alone or with your favorite person or pet, then picture your favorite color gently filling the top of your head, making it feel warm and a little tingly. It is relaxing and the color spreads to your eyes. You feel your eyelids relax as you enjoy the feeling of being in this special place. Then your cheeks relax and your lips…etc.). This is a great feeling for kids to remember when they find themselves getting frustrated.
Theater games help children activate the creative portions of their minds, role play difficult emotions, learn to trust and cooperate with one another, and to better understand themselves. It is also a lot of fun and a great chance to work out some physical energy in a positive way.
Candace Lindemann holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Yale in Theater and a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard. As former classroom teacher, part-time educational writer and consultant, and full time mom, she enjoys sharing new experiences with her children and with a wider audience. Visit NaturallyEducational.com for more ideas for activities, crafts, and books for children.