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Fostering Better Play Practices Through Drama

Your child loves to play, but sometimes it can feel exhausting, disjointed, and wearing. You feel you don’t have enough time to fit everything you need to accomplish within the day, and you want to provide your child with some outdoors, exercise, and education, while also keeping yourself healthy in both mind, body, and spirit. It can be gruelling sometimes to even get out of the house!

What if you could pack everything you need to, into one great play opportunity? Where you and your child can benefit from some physicality, help educate them, give them some experience, and can do it in any location, even outdoors? A simple solution is a drama-based approach at play.

What do we mean by drama-based play? Well, what we want to do is build our play time, not around physical items, but to express it through music and dance. With a plethora of physical movement songs, you can create a fun and engaging 45 minutes for a child that will also foster a rewarding relationship with your child, not to mention improve your overall physical abilities (trust me, 45 minutes of dancing can burn up to 600 calories!). So what is the best way to create an at-home drama playtime? It comes down to three elements: Imagination, Movement, and Exploration.

A drama-based approach to play will begin with imagination exercises to develop creativity and awe. Start with exercises that use large movements and physical exertion. Think of walking like an animal, making a large cookie that you need to mix and roll out. At this stage, you can also stretch their imagination with a song that acts out movements like Laurie Berkner’s Goldfish Song. What you want to do is encourage them to develop imaginative play skills that allow them to have creativity beyond just reading and watching television. They can recreate worlds, build their dreams, and do so in a fun and engaging way. Whatever their wish is in the moment, say yes, and build upon their improvisation. With all of this imagination, you are also using a lot of physicalities, and it will bring out the child in you.

Movement songs are a great way to help children learn routines, structured play, and discipline. These songs are simple to follow movement exercises like stand up, clap your hands, jump, and tend to be repetitive. These are great to participate with your child as the modelling shows good behaviour and improves their overall enjoyment if they can participate with you. One of my favourites to use in classes is Stand Up, Sit Down by Tumble Tots. While everything you do will be some form of movement, these songs really help reinforce discipline and control, and they’re really fun too!

Finally, exploration uses free space to dance and try new things. You could use an item like a shaker, or ribbons, to move freely around in the space. You could copy each other's movements as you listen to your favourite songs, singing to your heart's content. Based on the movement you did previously, as well as the imagination exercises, these free moments of dance can be full of creativity. I tend to listen to lots of Disney songs when dancing with my kids, or something that is upbeat that I don’t mind listening to, and which is nice for kids to enjoy too.

I hope that inspires you to add drama-based play to your child’s week. It doesn’t only have to happen in a classroom, you can create this fun and engaging activity in your own living room or backyard. Not only will you make great memories with your children, but you will build the skills they need for future development, and get some well-needed exercise that will energize you for the rest of the day.

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