Creating a supportive community: group bonding games and drama tips

September 1, 2008 at 11:22 pm Leave a comment

We had our first drama workshop today, and one of the main points was, again, the importance of creating a safe space for all children in all activities. The lecturer took us through these activities…

Circle games


We started by moving our chairs into an egalitarian and inclusive circle, all wearing name badges. The teacher does not have a chair, and explains he will get one by winning a bet. The bet is he can say the name of one of the people in the circle three times, before they can say his name twice. If he wins, they must give up their seat and try to win another one by repeating the name of someone in the circle. They must pronounce the name properly, so everyone can hear, and look at the person (especially if there are two people with the same name). Where it’s not clear who won, the group decides with a show of hands.

This helps with learning names, and is a fairly comfortable way to get used to being in the centre of the circle. It’s good for bringing the group together and getting a sense of shared focus.

Move if you…

(This is also good for mixing up a group)

The person in the middle has to try to get a seat by calling out “move if you [are a human being, are wearing trousers, like swimming…]”.

Start with simple, visible things and move to hidden things.

Put yourselves in order

Make a notional ‘start’ and ‘end’ point in the circle, or along a line. Ask the children to arrange themselves in order of something linear like birthday day/month. To make it more complex/fun/different, tell them they have to do it without speaking. Go round the group to see how they got on.

Creating a home

If you’re going to be working in an open space, first ask the children to find a part of the room (specify exactly where they are allowed to go – keep your space as teacher) where they can stretch their arms out without touching the walls or each other. Ask them to sit down in that space. Tell them this is their home, and every time you say “go home”, they must come back to this exact spot. If they don’t make it home in time, they’ll be grounded! Tell them to look around and remember where they are sitting. Then you can bring fast-paced, noisy, movement based activities to a controlled end by asking the children to “go home” and counting down.

I think you’d have to be very careful to make sure children with language difficulties understand this. In particular you might find pupils with autism spectrum disorders putting their coats on and heading for the door if you tell them to “go home”.

Having created the bases, we played a fast-paced game of trying to greet as many people in the room as possible, while still getting ‘home’ in time (the teacher was counting down). You can ask the children to do this in different styles – he told us we had to say “Hello, I’m really pleased you’re in my class” to everyone, first in one one accent, then, in the second round, a different accent. I guess you could also do different walks, animal noises…

Dramatising text

We had a brief chat about what you could do with a simple rhyme. Ideas included:

  • bring in props, put them in a feely bag for children to explore
  • get the children to act out the gestures described in the rhyme
  • learn it to a rhythm
  • set it to a tune the children already know
  • (with children who can read) put the text on a whiteboard – as the group repeats the rhyme, invite individual children to rub out a word, so each time it’s repeated with less visual help
  • record a performance so the children can play it back.

General tips:

  • model the activity
  • ask various children questions about the activity: what you are going to do, what they are to do, what they think will happen next etc (you check their understanding, and others who are not sure may understand it better from their peers)
  • change the mood by becoming more playful when you introduce the game
  • you don’t have to explain all the rules at the start; explain the essentials, then deal with issues as they come up
  • control the pace by counting down from 10 or 5.

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Creative a supportive community: feedback Assertiveness in groups

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