Monday, April 26, 2010

Fairy Tales in the Classroom Week: Creative Drama

Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children

I sort of fell into a speech and theatre minor during my undergraduate studies since so many of the classes in the department interested me. Two of the best classes I took were taught by Dr. Jette Halladay. One was Storytelling. The other was Children's Drama and Speech. I learned much in both, but Children's Drama was the bigger revelation to me since I had rarely seen or experienced creative drama techniques.

Once Upon a Time: Using Storytelling, Creative Drama, and Reader's Theater with Children in Grades PreK-6

What is creative drama? I don't dare define it myself, after all, I refuse to give a hard definition for fairy tales and I'm pretty familiar with those. I found a few excellent definitions online. This one came from Youth Stages:

Creative drama is an improvisational, non-exhibitional, process-oriented form of drama, where participants are guided by a leader to imagine, enact, and reflect on experiences real and imagined. Creative drama takes children’s natural world, creative play, and develops it further, using theatre techniques, to create learning experiences which are for the participants. Drama specialist, Brian Way states in Development Through Drama, “Theatre is largely concerned with communication between actors and an audience; Drama is largely concerned with experience by the participants.”
Theatre Arts in the Elementary Classroom: Grade Four Through Grade Six

KMR Scripts has one of the most comprehensive guides for teachers available on the web as well as many activities, none of which are fairy tale related: Creative Drama Workshop Guidelines.

Creative Drama for the Classroom Teacher (4th Edition)

Another great resource about Creative Drama is available on the Susan C. Anthony website. The site includes reasons for using creative drama as well as ideas for specific activities. Also see the Creative Drama and Education Resource site. Fairy tales are used on the latter page especially.

Creative Drama in the Classroom and Beyond

Many of the creative drama techniques and programs use fairy tales for source materials. Perhaps the best book with information about using fairy tales in creative drama is Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children by Jack Zipes. The cover image is at the top of this page.

Product description from the publisher:

In his successful Creative Storytelling, Jack Zipes showed how storytelling is a rich and powerful tool for self-expression and for building children's imaginations. In Speaking Out, this master storyteller goes further, speaking out against rote learning and testing and for the positive force within storytelling and creative drama during the K-12 years.

For the past four years, Jack Zipes has worked with the Neighborhood Bridges Program of the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, taking his storytelling techniques into inner-city schools. Speaking Out is in part a record of the transformations storytelling can work on the minds and lives of young people. But it is also a vivid and exhilarating demonstration of a different kind of education - one built from deep inside each child.

Speaking Out is a book for storytellers, educators, parents, and anyone who cares about helping kids find within themselves the keys to imagination.

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