All drama, no crisis
At the end of the blog post on singing and dancing, you may remember that I touched upon the value of drama in children’s ministry. Using acting and various dramatic techniques with your children can be beneficial in many ways, from helping children gain confidence to allowing them to enter into Bible stories in ways that can change their lives.
In your group, you’ll have confident children and shy children, children who always answer your questions and those who would never say boo to a goose (or any other large bird). Playing some drama games can help children gain confidence and become more comfortable. Try games such as ‘Zip zap boing’ or ‘Splat’ to help them get used to being in and interacting with a group.
Zip zap boing: The children stand in a circle. One child starts and points at one of the people standing next to them, saying ‘Zip’. That player points at the next in the circle and says ‘Zip’. The ‘Zip’ passes around the circle until a player decides to point back to the ‘Zipper’ and says ‘Zap’. The ‘Zip’ then goes round the circle the way it came. A person who receives a ‘Zip’ or ‘Zap’ can choose to say ‘Boing’ and point at someone across the circle. That player then restarts the ‘Zip’ going in the direction of their choice.
Splat: Again the children start in a circle, but this time one person stands in the middle. This person spins around and points to someone in the circle, shouting ‘Splat!’ That child must duck, while the children on either side of them should point at each other and shout ‘Splat!’ Players are out if they fail to duck, or are the second of the two to shout ‘Splat!’ Play continues until just two children are left.
There are lots of techniques you can use to help children engage with Bible stories. You could start with children re-enacting the Bible story as it is read out from a child-friendly translation, such as the CEV or GNB. Or, if you have access to the Dramatised Bible, you could use that to introduce simple dialogue.
If your group like writing, you could encourage them to write their own script of the Bible story. If there isn’t much dialogue in the Bible text, they will need to imagine what different characters would have said. Use these scripts to act out the story. Going one step further, you could try to think how your Bible story would play out in a contemporary context. This is easier with parables, though other stories just require a bit more imagination!
If you have confident children, you could try hot-seating. Pick out all the major characters in a Bible story and assign each one to a pair or small group of children. Encourage the pairs/groups to read the Bible story and view it from the point of view of their character. How would they have felt at various points? What made them do or say what they did? What did they think of the other characters in the story? What were they doing before/after the events of the story? Once they have done this, ask for a volunteer from each pair/group to ‘be’ their character. They sit on a chair (the hot seat) and everyone else asks them questions. This volunteer should answer the questions as their character (with help from their group if they need it).
Responding to the Bible story is another place where drama might be useful. Encourage the children to think of situations in their lives where what they have discovered through the Bible story might have an impact. Ask them to role play what might happen if they follow what they’ve found out (or don’t).
There are many more ways in which drama can make a difference. Have you had success with drama? If so, share your story in the comments section below!
Alex Taylor is Children’s Ministry Trainer for the Diocese of London and a terrible show-off.
Image credit: Theater by Alan Cleaver.