Many children begin their love of drama at a very young age. Kids love make-believe, and drama games provide a source of inspiration and creativity. Our selection of drama games for kids begins with acting games suitable for groups of children in a classroom or any other venue in which kids gather. As a child’s love of drama grows, they frequently join community or school drama clubs. The second section of this article provides activities to keep a drama club group excited and involved. Sometimes a child’s love of drama leads them in to more serious acting. Kids can hone their skills with the acting games for kids we provide in the third portion of this article. Remember, you can make simple, dramatic adaptations to already familiar learning activities to create roles and communicate meaning through movement, facial expression, and voice.
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Acting Games for Kids
Acting games work in many different environments. Classroom, community activity centres, day-cares, clubs, and camps all find acting games for kids provide not only entertainment, but an opportunity to build relationships and develop positive character traits such as team work, following directions, and social interaction.
Themed Musical Chairs
This activity is easily adapted to almost any theme or story. As with a traditional game of musical chairs, make a circle of chairs with one less chair than the number of kids playing the game.
Select three or four characters from a play or story the kids are familiar with or one you have shared with them previously, for example, Alice in Wonderland. Once the kids are seated, assign each a character, e.g. Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Red Queen, etc. You can repeat the characters if you have many children playing.
One kid stands in the centre of the circle and calls out a character or a trait. For example, they may call out everyone who wears blue, or everyone who has whiskers. Those players stand and attempt to find an empty chair along with the person in the centre. Whoever does not find an empty seat takes the place of the caller in the centre and play continues.
Let’s Pretend provides an opportunity for kids to explore their five senses. You can use all the selections below or pick and choose a few for the time you have available. Ask the children to relax and close their eyes and imagine how each would feel, taste, sound, etc. Then have them open their eyes and pretend to:
A car about to hit you
A teeny, tiny bug crawling up your arm
Freshly baked cookies
Chocolate or ice cream
Soft animal fur
A sharp needle
A more detailed sensory activity than the one listed above, Taste It! Involves describing a food in so much detail that the listeners’ mouths water. You might wish to write the names of various foods on notecards for younger children. Older kids can pick their own food – perhaps a favourite. Have each player take a turn describing their food. After everyone has taken a turn, have each kid talk about actually eating the food. Encourage them to use as much detail as possible. You might want to begin this fun activity describing the appearance and eating of your favourite food to get the kids started.
Learning to use language expressively is an important part of drama. The following exercises help kids do so in a fun way.
- Write common, everyday expressions on note cards or slips of paper. Have each kid draw one and say the phrase in three different ways, i.e. happy, angry, or sad, etc. You can write some suggestions of ways to say the phrase on a whiteboard. Use one of the following or some of your own:
Hello, my name is _______.
Let me in.
How are you?
- Divide your kids into pairs and have them carry on a “conversation” with another person using their partner’s name. Encourage them to use gestures, inflection, body language, and facial expressions to communicate a wide range of meaning.
- It is important to speak very clearly and precisely for drama to be effective. Have the kids practice diction saying tongue twisters. Use one of the following or find your own:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood,
As a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
Drama Club Activities
Kids join a drama club because they have an interest in acting. Our drama club activities are designed to build some foundational skills for budding actors. Imaginative play entertains while the kids are learning how to express themselves in various ways.
It’s Mine, It’s Yours!
Two kids have a stuffed animal or small toy. They are to pretend they both really want to have it or get rid of it and demonstrate different ways of taking the object away or giving it to their partner. They should demonstrate that the object is one of the following:
- Precious, valuable, worth a lot of money
- Nasty, old, and something they do not want
- Very heavy, light, sharp, dangerous
- Something about to blow up.
- A hot pan or plate.
- An injured pet.
Make believe is an important part of drama and kids need practice to effectively portray various characters. Let’s Pretend provides various scenarios that allow kids to exercise their imaginations. Try one of the following or create your own:
- Play Fight
You should set some parameters to keep this drama game from becoming too aggressive. Pair up the kids and have them pretend they are fighting in water, wearing heavy armour, or have a weapon such as a sword.
- Dinner Time
Have small groups of four or five kids sit at a table and pretend they are eating a meal together. They must rely on mimicry – no talking.
The drama leader stands in front of a group of kids and creates exaggerated physical movements and sounds. The kids must copy what the leader does. Begin with an adult leader and then let the kids take turns leading the group.
Artist and Clay
Have kids work in pairs taking turns being artists and sculptors. The one playing sculptor moves the arms and legs and bends the torso of the kid playing the clay, who relaxes while being formed and posed. Playing music while the children work helps them maintain momentum. When the first statues are finished, have an art show where they can see the other kids’ creations. Then switch places and have the “clay” kids become the sculptors.
It’s a Zoo Out There!
Assign each kid an animal or let them choose their own. This activity works best if all of your young actors are different animals. The goal is to act like the animal in movement, sounds, and attitude. Once each kid has established their role, have them read a monologue to the group as if their animal is speaking.
True or False?
Kids take turns standing in front of the group and sharing a one minute story. The kids listen and try to decide if the story is real or made up. The goal of the story teller is to make his story exciting and yet believable. Encourage your actors to use hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language as they tell their tale.
Theatre Games for Kids
Many kids dream of participating in theatre productions in their local community or school. Our theatre games for kids provide opportunities to learn new acting skills and hone those already learned. You can also use our theatre
Write four emotions on the whiteboard – happy, sad, scared, and angry. Have the kids take turns asking a question in one of the four emotions. The other kids raise their hands and guess the emotion. If they are right, the kid says the phrase in another emotion. If they are wrong, the kid speaking takes their seat and another kid gets a turn. If they cannot think of a question to use, try one of the following suggestions:
- How are you feeling?
- What is your problem?
- Do you really want to say that?
- Do you want ice cream?
Line the kids up or have them sit in a circle. One kid says a word and the next student adds a word. The goal is to create one sentence of a story and then continue until the group has a complete story. If you wish, you or an older kid can write down the words as the kids speak and read the story back to the kids when they finished. You can then have them act the story out.
Teach your young actors the importance of character portrayal with this fun game. Have the kids take turns introducing each other to the group. The fun part comes from the crazy character descriptions the kids must use. After an introduction, the kid introduced must say, “Hello!” to everyone and act their part. Older kids can come up with their own character portrayals, however choose from the following list for younger players or create your own:
- This is John. John comes from the country and is a pig farmer. He hasn’t cut his beard in ten years and lost his left arm when a large boar chewed it off. He has a pet mouse living in his beard.
- This is Leon. Leon is a lion tamer from the circus. However, he is deathly afraid of house cats. He only speaks in one word sentences and is constantly swinging his whip around.
- This is Emily. She is a deaf ballet dancer who has trouble knowing when the music is playing and if she should be dancing.
After everyone is introduced, the entire group mixes and mingles in their various roles.
Positive and Negative
For this kids’ acting game, the group chooses one of the following scenarios, and everything that they say must be negative. Then they change to saying everything positive.
- A trip to the grocery store.
- Eating a meal out.
- A party with friends.
- A game outdoors.
This exercise demonstrates to children how important it is to project their voices. Mark three spots with a stuffed toy, bean bag, or other object ten feet apart; the first one ten feet from the speaker, the second twenty feet, and the third thirty feet. Have each kid look at the first object and say their name or a short sentence of your choice. Then have them speak to the second object and then the third. They must increase the volume of their voice each time. If you wish, you can have kids stand at each spot to listen to how the volume changes. This exercise teaches kids how important it is to speak up, as even those in the back rows of a theatre must hear them.
Body language can make or break the effectiveness of the acting in any scene or play. Have your kids pair up and shake hands in various ways: hesitantly, sadly; with love or anger; fast, slow; roughly, gently. Next have them move their hands and arms to indicate different personality characteristics. Use some of those above and add nervous, magical, greedy, strong, and frightened.
Drama involves portraying an exciting or emotional situation or event –an activity that kids have a natural talent for. Drama games for kids provide a creative way of teaching drama skills, while keeping kids engaged and interested. They also increase a young actor’s self-confidence.
Imagine, experience, entertain, and have fun!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.