Be square: incorporating drama in early years settings
Bringing drama into an early years setting can be a little out of the comfort zone of many teachers and professionals. So…to make things a little simpler I have one key piece of advice, and several activity suggestions.
Having spent several years developing early years drama, theatre and creative learning experiences, working with The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Telford Find Your Talent, Play and Language (Birmingham City Council) and a range of other cultural organisations and early years settings, I have come to the conclusion that the one, key, most significant and effective resource for early years drama is……masking tape. Yes, seriously.
The beauty of masking tape is that you can use it to create an instant performance space. You can create a ‘story square’, ‘stage’ or ‘acting space’. This does two wonderful things:1. Introduces the idea of performance and audience in a non-threatening way (not as scary as an actual, usually huge, stage).2. Takes away from making circles. Children are constantly required to make circles and this is often used in drama too. Just by changing the space and language, drama becomes more interesting, and detached from other activities (such as circle time or PE).
It sounds (and is) ridiculously simple but please trust me when I say that it is incredibly effective. The beauty of it is that this concept of performance space can be used from 0 upwards. Contain sensory and exploratory resources within masking tape squares. The boundaries are at baby height and accessible from the floor. I don’t think theatre gets more interesting that small children discovering something new.
I have created a resource which I developed thanks to CCE funding which outlines a range of drama games which can be easily rolled out in a classroom space (within your brand new masking tape stage of course). It is available to download here. The graphic designer who created the sheets for me (www.dosime.co.uk) designed them alongside children to ensure that they would look nice on the wall of a setting, or could be cut down into cards – handy to encourage children to select the activity they prefer, as they might with songs. Any questions, please do let me know.
Let me know how you get on, and the favourite activities in your setting!
Lindsay Jane Brown www.lindsayjanehunter.co.uk