For the Sake of the Children!

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The thing I love most about improv is that it is the few hours a week where I am not only free to, but basically forced to forget my troubles at the door, be present, and basically act like an eight-year-old for the night.

Of course I tend to act like an eight-year-old on lots of other nights as well, but in improv it is a bit more structured and expected.

So in today’s post I thought we’d take a look at improv that is actually meant for eight-year-olds: improv for kids.

The Benefits:

–          Improv allows children to use their creativity and expand their imagination

–          It improves children’s public speaking skills and confidence

–          It teaches kids to be flexible and work with others

–          It teaches kids not to be self-conscious

–          It improves children’s concentration and ability to be present

–          It is a wonderful way for children to make friends

–          It is a great way to show them that it is okay to fail

–          Improv is just fun. And what kind of parent doesn’t want his/her kids to have fun? HUH?!

So now you know the why, here’s the what.

Some Games:

Whoosh Bang Pow: Send energy around the circle in three ways. Whoosh: swing your arms alongside the circle send the energy around the circle like a gust of wind. Bang: hold up two fists and send the energy back where it came from. Pow: make eye contact and clap across the circle.

Mirroring: In pairs, pick one person to be A and one to be B. A will begin as the leader and B will be the mirror. The pair should work together to seamlessly mirror each other. After a minute or so, switch who is the leader and who is the follower.

Dance Diamond: Like a group mirror, but everyone is facing the same direction. Put players in a diamond formation, put music on, and have them take turns leading and following, depending on which direction they are facing.

Storytelling: In this exercise, one kiddo will sit in a chair as the storyteller and one player will be kneeling or seated on the floor to make the hand gestures. The non-players will provide two nouns, a place, or an emotion and two verbs—it’s kind of like a live actin Mad Libs. The storyteller will use the suggestions in his/her story while staying still and the other player will make the gestures.

Group Stop: Everyone quietly mills about the room. One person will elect to freeze in position unexpectedly. As soon as one notices that someone else has frozen in position they freeze as well. So the effect of one person freezing causes everyone to freeze. Once everyone is still the group starts milling around again. This is a good way to teach children to be aware of their surroundings.

Fairy Tale in a Minute: The kiddos pick a favorite fairy tale and then act out the story in one minute. Then they must act out the same thing in 30 seconds. THEN they must act it out in 10 seconds.

Alphabet Game: The players act out a scene but they must start each sentence with the letters of the alphabet. If an actor gets a letter wrong, audience yells SLEEP (or something) and remaining actors continue.

These are games that you can facilitate with your kids and, depending how young they are, their play groups, their friends, or maybe even just their high school buddies. And if you embarrass your 11th grader by inviting a whole bunch of his friends over for an improv play date, well more points for you! You are teaching your child a valuable lesson in not being so self-conscious—the mark of any good improv instructor.

Guest writer, Natalie Grigson writes a weekly column on spirituality for BeyondChron and is a proud student of Merlin Works Improv in Austin, Texas.

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