Dramatic play is a great way to teach important communication skills to children. Drama games help teach children confidence, how to carry themselves, how to speak and how to communicate with non-verbal cues. Jungles hold a fascination for children, and incorporating drama games with a jungle theme can be fun for teachers and students alike. Add music, costumes and props to your dramatic play if possible.
Book-based Dramatic Play
Books make a great starting point for drama games, especially for younger children. Find a picture book that is set in the jungle. Gather children into a circle and show them the pictures one at a time. Point out the different trees, rivers and animals. Ask them to think about what kind of noises they would hear in that kind of a scene. Then read the book and have the children create a soundtrack by making the noises they talked about. You can also read the story and have them act it out as you read it.
Music-based Dramatic Play
Find music that evokes the feeling of a jungle then find short 30-second clips of instrumental music. Talk with children about the animals that live in the jungle. Have each of them pick one of those animals. Tell them that all the animals in the jungle have been invited to perform before the royal court. Let each child dance to a 30-second clip of music, portraying his chosen animal. The other children must then guess which animal he represents. After every child has had a chance to do a solo dance, play the jungle music and let everyone dance together.
Improvisation Dramatic Play
Take the children outside and play a game, such as Simon Says, Tag or King of the Mountain. However, instead of playing the traditional way, use a jungle animal in each one. For example, if they play tag, call out a jungle animal and everyone has to move and make noise like that animal while playing. Call out a different animal every few minutes. Instead of "Simon Says," make it "Birdie Says." The king of the mountain, of course, would be a lion, and all the other children would have to act like a specific animal when they challenge the lion.
Make-believe Dramatic Play
Declare yourself king or queen of the jungle. Move around the room like a lion and talk like a lion might if it could talk. Then tell your students that being the monarch can be a lonely job and lions don't like to be lonely. In fact, with so much work to do in the jungle, you need a court to help you out. Have each child come up to you one at a time and ask to be in your court. Ask each child what type of animal she is and why you need that sort of animal in your court. Be ready to accept any answer as they can sometimes get silly.
Dress-up Dramatic Play
Provide materials to make dress-up costumes for a safari in the jungle. Children can use paper bags to make safari jackets or paper plates to make masks of the various animals. Give some direction to show how to make masks and costumes to start out. Then provide a box filled with various supplies, such as fake fur remnants, pieces of cloth, rolls of paper, craft foam and feathers, and let the children use their imagination to come up with costumes. Set up a show and tell time when everyone can model what they've made. Then have them store the costumes in a dramatic play center where everyone can share the costumes and play with them during free time.
Independent Dramatic Play
Create a jungle dramatic play center in your classroom where young children can go during play time and create their own jungle-themed stories. Make a jeep out of a refrigerator box and tape tall trees made of construction paper onto the walls. Provide safari hats and toy binoculars and fill the area with stuffed animals that could be found in a jungle. For older children, provide supplies to make a jungle diorama that all of the kids can contribute to by making animals and terrain.
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