Story acting brings children’s ideas to the group. It gives a compelling reason for children’s storytelling, celebrates children’s ideas and provides an opportunity for the class to create meaning around a text of great interest.
Rituals can help engage a group in story acting. In addition to special lights and sounds, children can make a stage for the performance. This stage can be simple and remade each day or be the product of an intentional project to create a structure to last the school year. A vinyl sheet, available at fabric stores, makes a sturdy and portable stage.
In these videos, Mission Hill K1/K2 teacher Jenny Goldstein and Winship K2 teacher Kathleen Frazier facilitate dramatization of several stories.
Reading the Story
Some teachers read the story twice—once before enacting begins so actors can anticipate their roles and a second time to prompt actors during the enactment. During the first reading the class can discuss how to act out different roles as seen in this conversation facilitated by K0/K1 teacher Megan Nason.
Stage rules create a safe environment for story acting. The basic rules are: you have to stay one arm’s or leg’s length from one another when pretend fighting, and no leaving the stage. Children quickly learn these rules. In this video clip, children in a K1/K2 class explain their stage rules.
Many teachers ask the actors to take a bow and encourage the audience to applaud at the end of stories. Teachers can use the creation of rituals building a culture of storytelling/story acting. In this video K0/K1 teacher Megan Nason facilitates a discussion about the types of applause her children have created, leading to the development of even more options.
Dramatizing stories can present certain challenges. For example, it may be unclear how certain characters (e.g., wind, water) should be dramatized. Stories with multiple actors also requires careful facilitation. Union School visiting artist Sarae Pacetta helps her children gracefully dramatize such stories.
Conversations after Dramatizations (Feedback)
Asking children to provide feedback about the story and acting can lead to engaging conversations and enrich children's acting. In these videos, Winship K2 teacher Kathleen Frazier facilitates conversations where she asks her children to provide each other compliments and suggestions.
Acting Familiar Stories (to get started with Dramatization)
At the beginning of the year, acting out familiar stories helps children learn the routine of story acting. Here, Marina Boni facilitates a dramatization of Abiyoyo.