Improvisation, or improv, games and exercises allow children to use their creativity while improving public speaking skills, confidence and concentration. Improvisational artist, Wade Jackson, emphasizes that improv can give kids a way to laugh and make friends. When teaching improvisation activities to children, try to set just a few rules, such as no roughhousing or bad language. Barb Shelby, expert in childcare professional development, recommends teaching children to use chivalry while improving. This means sharing the stage and saying yes to other kids' ideas.
Let kids unleash their creativity in an imaginary classroom setting. From non-players, ask for a noun and a verb ending in "ing." The combination of these two words serves as your classroom subject. For example, you might end up with "clown dancing." Four players sit in chairs as if in a classroom. One player enters the game as the teacher and introduces the class subject. Encourage kids to interpret the classroom topic in any way they like. Remind the "students" to be silly and outlandish.
In this exercise have one improviser in a chair, as the storyteller, and one player kneeling or seated on the floor, behind the chair, to make hand gestures. Get a few variables from non-players including two nouns and a place, or an emotion and two verbs. The storyteller keeps her hands straight by her sides. The hand gesture player makes all hand gestures during the storyteller's story. The storyteller must incorporate the word variables provided by the non-players or audience. This is a fun way to encourage children to speak in front of groups.
Expanding and Shrinking Freeze Tag
In regular improv freeze tag, two players act out a scene, then freeze as soon as a player who wants to enter the scene claps. This player taps one actor on the shoulder to signal him to exit the scene. The new actor takes on the exact position that the exiting actor held. In multiplying freeze tag, players clap to enter the scene, but no one exits. Once every player is in the scene, any random player can clap, then exit, so the number of players shrinks back down to two. Encourage kids to clap without having an idea for a scene already in their mind. In expanding and shrinking freeze tag, the scene changes each time a player enters or exits. Start the initial scene with a noun and a verb, or with a situation.
Pick a couple of variables out of a hat or get them from non-players. Everyone sits in a circle. Each child in turn tells one line of a story. Encourage the children to incorporate the predetermined variables into the story.
Say or Sing the Same
Ask non-players to pick a category, including commercial, song, movie title, speech, nursery rhyme or poem. Then ask the non-players for a noun. For example, you could have a movie title named "frog party" or a commercial for "car mud." Get two to four players to stand together. Their goal is to sing or speak on the topic at the same time. Expect to get rounds of laughter from your players and non-players.