Guest post by Jocelyn Green of Child’s Play NY, thanks Jocelyn!
Looking for a fun activity to spark your kids’ imaginations? A game that I use in class, (which can work for even just 2 people) is something I call “Story Clap”, inspired by Viola Spolin, the legendary originator of Theater Games.
One person starts with an opener that puts us in the fairy tale or fable mind-set, like:
Once upon a time there lived a firefly who didn’t know she was a firefly…
In a deep dark forest there was a witch who loved to make soup out of …
You pass the story along to the next person by clapping, and then it is their job to pick up where you left off and continue talking and clapping until the story reaches a natural end. You’ll be surprised how creative the story becomes as the tellers feel inspired by the collective voice of the group.
Experiment with the length of the story chunk you tell. Archetypes are great to play off (princesses, witches, animals, dragons, etc.) and you can combine elements of their favorite books and characters. This is also a great way to air an issue that may be coming up at home so that kids can give voice to their feelings.
As the adult in the group, it is important to help direct the story: set up a conflict and then help it toward resolution. With kids age 4-6, it’s a good idea to have the adult as the “clapper” to keep the action going. You’ll be amazed by how much they already understand story structure and how excited they are to create their own tales with you. In my acting classes we end up physically re-telling the story, but it is a great activity all on its own for winding down at bedtime, car trips, or a family gathering outdoors. On rainy days you can help them write the story down and they can illustrate it!
Jocelyn Greene is the Executive Director of Child’s Play NY (www.childsplayny.com) offering after-school and summer acting classes to kids in Brooklyn. She teaches and directs at The Packer Collegiate Institute and The Berkeley Carroll School.