Arts integration is more than just carving out some time for the “token” art lesson. It is about using the arts as a vehicle to reinforce the content of all subjects in a fun way. Children learn better and retain what they’ve learned when they enjoy the process. Drama improv activities are a great tool for that exact purpose.
The end of the school year is coming up and you may need some fun and light activities to do with your students that are still educational. Here is a great drama game that you can play with grades 3 through high school.
ASK THE EXPERT – DRAMA GAME
One player at a time, however the audience participates as well.
8 years old and up (can be played by adults as well)
This is a drama game, but it can be played in all subjects as the expert can be related to History, Science, Math, English or any other subject. If you would like to keep the content of the activity in alignment with a specific subject, just be sure to give that parameter to the students before you start. This game can be a fun way for students to demonstrate material they have already learned in class. For example, if they have been learning about a specific period in American History, they can play characters that they have been studying about. If they are studying Biology, have them be a biology expert.
To create a character that is the ultimate “expert” in something and answer questions on that topic.
To develop confidence through performing by oneself, practicing thinking on your feet, and to develop an in-depth and believable character.
One player goes up at a time and enters the performance space (it can be the front of a classroom, stage or any similar space). They can be sitting or standing. The player has to come in as an expert in something. It is more fun if they are an expert in something that doesn’t exist, for example, an expert in whistling or an expert in time machines.
The teacher/facilitator and the audience get to ask the “expert” questions pertaining to the subject in which they are an expert. The expert has to answer all of the questions as if they know the answer to each question. The idea is to answer with total confidence and certainty without having to sit in silence and think of an answer. It should be given quickly in a very matter of fact tone of voice.
The player should also create a character in their expert role that is different than themselves. Before starting the exercise, ask the player how their character moves, talks and what other characteristics they might demonstrate to an audience. The player should be working on the physicality of their character as they answer the questions. Allow each expert around 5 minutes on stage before moving onto a new expert.
Create A Supportive Environment
It is important to create an environment of trust and respect when doing improv. Participants are being asked to open up and take a risk, which makes them vulnerable. If participants don’t feel they are in a safe supportive environment, they will be less likely to jump in and participate. Before you begin, it is important to set up clear expectations for everyone in the group. Make it clear that they need to create a safe space for each other. This means everyone respects each other, does not call out or put down others, and does not laugh at others (unless of course, they create comedy in a scene).
Praise Those Who Participate
An important part of setting up a supportive environment is praising participants for trying. This sets up the expectation that participants are valued for trying and the actual product is not being judged. You can do this by saying things like, “Thanks for volunteering. I know it’s hard to go first”. By saying this, you tell the group that you value their contributions. You can even take it a step further and praise the specific leadership skill they are demonstrating by saying, “Thanks for volunteering to go first. It is great you are willing to take a risk. That shows confidence. Nice job!” Obviously, it doesn’t have to be these exact words, but anytime you have the opportunity to praise the leadership skill that is being developed through improv exercises, please do it!
Debrief Scenes When They Are Complete
When an improv exercise is over it is important for the facilitator to debrief the scene. This is where the participants really learn what worked and what they can improve on. Asking questions will force participants to think through the scene and come up with their own ideas for improvement. If you ask them questions before you give your own tips and ideas, they will take an active role in their own learning.
This is just one drama improv game that you can use to integrate into any subject area you are teaching. Kids have a lot of fun playing and it is a great way to reinforce the content you are teaching them. Try it and see how their retention of the material taught increases!
For more drama improv games check out one of The Artistic Edge’s most popular resources, 24 Must-Know Theatre Improv Games