Tips and Tricks
Bringing Out the Drama in Your Juniors
-Gordon and Becki West
The church was once the center of creative storytelling, including dramas designed to teach the masses about God and His Word. Even in this age of technology and major motion pictures, juniors love to see a live performance—especially when it involves people they know. Bring the Bible to life by using drama with your juniors!
Fun ways to use drama
Many drama techniques suitable for juniors do not require any theatrical experience or know-how.
Read a drama or a biblical narrative and have students act out the story. Don’t spend time rehearsing; just read slowly and let the actors repeat their lines or pantomime the action of the skit. Everyone will enjoy the involvement.
Have your leaders be the actors. Although it’s great to have the students perform, once in a while juniors like to see the adults “let loose.” Casting adults in parts vastly different from their natural personalities can increase the interest!
Videotape your juniors and replay their performance. The presence of a camera will encourage juniors to truly “perform” and will allow you to repeat the show for additional emphasis. Try pulling out one of these videos at your next parents’ meeting to show mom and dad what their junior is learning.
Tips for successful performances
Require that everyone be involved. If you have enough kids to split into groups, ask each group to involve all of its members in some way. Don’t embarrass the shy junior by requiring him to say lines, but challenge each group to creatively use everyone—as a rock, a sign holder, a lighting technician or something else that helps present the story.
Instead of starting from scratch, pick skits from published books. In addition to skit books be sure to check the skits in this magazine. Pick a skit that teaches what you have in mind and then read it out loud to your junior dramatists. Once they have the story in mind, have them create their own similar story or recreate the published skit without relying on the book.
Don’t have juniors memorize their parts. Instead, help them understand and remember the key points of the drama, including the order of events, key entrances and exits and the topics to be discussed. Then, have your students ad-lib their way through the skit. This method saves hours of memorization and rehearsal time and helps the young actor keep his lines “flowing” naturally.
Making dramas educational
While both watching and performing in skits can be lots of fun, don’t stop short of the goal! Use drama as a tool to bring home the point of your lesson.
When teaching a narrative passage of Scripture, assign each portion of the story to a different group of students. Have each group work together to perform its part of the story. Then piece the whole narrative together.
Ask the performers to share a key verse in their performance. If a passage of Scripture can be used to solve the dramatic conflict, great! If not, have the group pick a verse to share at the conclusion of the drama to help teach a principle connected with the sketch.
Always debrief after a performance. Ask one or more of the actors to explain the point of the drama. Then ask the audience application questions:
- “How would you respond if you were in this situation in real life?”
- “How was this drama like or unlike the way you live today?”
- “What could you do differently in the future?”
Finally, remember that you don’t have to be an expert to use drama creatively and successfully with your juniors. Remember to have fun and let the kids be the stars.
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