Why Drama is so Important in School – PART 4 – PRESENTATION SKILLS

PRESENTATION SKILLS – is part 4 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so Important in Schools. No matter where you go in life, you’re going to have to Get up in front of a group, a class, or an audience and present an idea for a project, a report, a paper, or some other…

Why Drama is so Important in School – PART 4 – PRESENTATION SKILLS was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books


Why Drama is so Important in School – PART 3 – SOCIAL SKILLS

Part 3 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – SOCIAL SKILLS

why drama?In a day and age where we see more and more kids with their noses buried in a phone screen, the social skills naturally generated on the school and play grounds are drifting away.  We are creating a society that will physically come together in a room and not actually BE together.  We need to create opportunities that allow our kids to be in environments that help foster social skills. Enter drama.

Drama is fantastic for social skills on a variety of levels. Let’s think about it, how often is an actor on stage by themselves? Answer: Hardly ever. It’s typically about back and forth communication between two or more individuals and the constant practice of that skill. 

Drama is naturally social. From simply hanging out with the same kids week after week, to interacting on stage with other actors, to drama games which create personal interaction. They all focus on the same piece, how to interact socially. Kids learn social skills such as:

  • Self-Confidence:29024151271_8210f85db9_b
    • Probably the biggest piece of being social, is having the self-confidence to put yourself out there where you can possibly be rejected. Bringing up a suggestion in class or with a group on the playground can sometimes be intimidating, if you don’t have the confidence to do so. However, in drama, when you have a suggestion, and your peers and director agree, it builds self-confidence. When you perform and the audience applauds your work, it builds your self-confidence. 
  • Reacting appropriately in a social situation:
    • Many people will tell you a good actor is a “re-actor”. In other words, how you respond to what someone has just told you or has physically done. The best part about drama, is you get to practice this again and again (rehearsals) with the help of a mentor (director) so you can work on this skill and react appropriately in a given situation. This may be something as simple as someone walking in a room and saying, “Hello.” and reacting to it. It could be something more complex such as Hamlet saying, “I’m going to get you Claudius!” 28616020746_0073a92372_zwhere Claudius has to react appropriately to the situation.
  • Simple back and forth communication:
    • Just working with someone else practicing a dialog back and forth that may cover 10-20 lines is enough to help some kids break the fear of social communication. In drama, you get to practice and practice a skill until one day, when you don’t even realize it, you generalize it outside of drama. It’s all because you have mastered a skill.
  • How to communicate using body language:
    • For many, this is one of the fun parts of acting. Saying a line, then following that line with a certain hand motion, or some type of body movement which suggests to the other actor what they are supposed to do. Talking without words. For example, the crossing of the arms, the stern look, and tilt of the head to show disappointment. Learning how to use your body to communicate is a skill we use throughout our entire life.
  • How to read and react to facial expressions:
    • As with the previous point, being the actor that sees the facial expression, you need to react correctly to it. Learning to read facial expressions and body positions is another great social skill.
  • Being aware of others:
    • When on stage, we are always practicing when to say our lines. What is our “cue”. For some, it’s the line before theirs, however, many times it’s an action or a character entering a room.  If we are not paying attention on stage, we miss these cues.  We have to practice again and again in rehearsals to be aware of our surroundings, to make sure we see and catch these cues. No difference than when someone enters a room, we need to be aware and address them, “Hello!”
  • Improvisation:
    • As with the previous two points, many times on stage an actor misses their line or cue. At that point, we have to react and respond appropriately to keep the story going until we are all back on script! Being aware of our surroundings and reacting to them is all part of the social skills we learn in drama.
  • How to talk in front of a group of people:
    • Yep, you’re on stage… and there’s a lot of people watching you.  Wait, you’re in front of the class, and there are a lot of kids watching you.  No, wait, you’re in the board room, and the board is watching your presentation for your new project. No, wait, you’re on the playground and the 6 kids around you are listening to you explain directions to the game. Getting used to being in front of an audience and speaking is another great social skill to learn.
  • How to properly be within someone else’s “personal space”:
    • Almost always you are on stage with someone else.  Learning how to orientate yourself to the other actor is sometimes challenging as many kids don’t know how to do this in day-to-day life. Another social skill we are always working on.

From a social perspective, this list can go on and on…

Over the past 12 months, I’ve taught 16 different theater productions with kids. Ranging from homeschool to after school to week long camps.  From Hamlet for Kids to Christmas Carol for Kids.  One thing is consistent, social opportunities are ALWAYS presenting themselves. So, be sure to get your kid into drama, and have fun improving those social skills!

caesar for kids bigger

Why Drama is so Important in School – PART 3 – SOCIAL SKILLS was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Ophelia’s Crazy Song

Did you know Ophelia actually sings a lunacy song in Hamlet?  It’s sprinkled throughout the act, but here’s the basic text. Enjoy!

Ophelia crazy 1

Crazy Ophelia – from O’my Theater’s production of my Hamlet for Kids

How should I your true love know

From another one?

By his cockle hat and staff,

And his sandal shoon.

He is dead and gone, lady,

He is dead and gone,

At his head a grass-green turf,

At his heels a stone.

Ophelia crazy 2Larded all with sweet flowers,

Which bewept to the ground did not go

With true-love showers.

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day,

All in the morning betime,

And I a maid at your window,

To be your Valentine.

Then up he rose, and donned his clothes,

And dupped the chamber door.

Let in the maid that out a maid

Never departed more.

By Gis and by Saint Charity,

Alack, and fie, for shame!

Young men will do ’t, if they come to ’t.

By Cock, they are to blame.

Quoth she, “Before you tumbled me,

You promised me to wed.”

He answers,

“So would I ha’ done, by yonder sun,

An thou hadst not come to my bed.”

They bore him barefaced on the bier,

Hey, non nonny, nonny, hey, nonny,

And in his grave rained many a tear.

And will he not come again?

And will he not come again?

No, no, he is dead,

Go to thy deathbed.

He never will come again.

His beard was as white as snow,

All flaxen was his poll.

He is gone, he is gone,

And we cast away moan,

God ha’ mercy on his soul.—

Ophelia’s Crazy Song was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Jungle Book for Kids – Costumes

I have had several people reach out to me who are performing my Jungle Book for Kids and ask about costumes.  So, to make it easy for everyone, this is what I have done for my performances in the past.  Please keep one thing in mind, ALL my performances use a minimal costume set. This makes it both economical as well as focused on the kids.  That being said, here is what I did for each character. (disclaimer, there are affiliate links here, but you pay the same, I just get a small % of the sale via Amazon – thanks for the support!)

tiger maskShere Khan – Not amazon, but Etsy – I simply had the kids where a black shirt/pants and where this AMAZING mask and then complement it with a tiger’s tail. Mask is $20 and the tail is $7

Mowgli – simple, dirty torn white t-shirt, ripped jeans, and some dirt on their face – bam! You have a wild jungle boy!

Wolves whether it was Father Wolf, Brother Wolf, or any members of the pack, I had them wear a white or black t-shirt and this cool Wolf Winter Hat. $8/each

BalooSimilar to the wolves, it was a warm winter hat, but a slightly bigger version.  Complemented him with a brown shirt. $20

Bagheera – Another winter hat, closer to Baloo’s style. Complemented that with a black shirt, and black tail, and some black makeup on her face, and BAM! She was looking good! $20

Monkeys – for the monkey scene, where they steal Mowgli, I had them all where Curious George masks, it was hilarious! Inexpensive and effective as well! $5 for a set of 4 masksmonkey mask

Rikki-Tiki-Tavi – since he’s a mongoose, I went with a classic raccoon tail hat.  Add a brown shirt or a karate outfit, if one is handy and throw in a few cool karate moves, and you’re golden!

Cobras – This really cool mask, toss in a black t-shirt and pants, and we are good.

Humans – some torn pants and a t-shirt.  I also tossed on this hat because it was inexpensive and versatile, as the hat can flip up and down to create different affects.





Jungle Book for Kids – Costumes was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Why Drama is so Important in School – PART 2 – CREATIVITY

Part 2 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – CREATIVITY Sherlock Holmes once questioned what the point was of filling his brain with useless facts, in this particular case, the Earth revolving around the Sun. As he would rather fill his brain with useful facts. Although I don’t completely agree with his philosophy,…

Why Drama is so Important in School – PART 2 – CREATIVITY was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Shakespeare Festivals

Traveling soon and have kids? Well then, there is no better time to stop by a Shakespeare Festival. Family trips can be mundane and boring on the road, However, there are great ways to mix this up. You can play road games, you can stop by random bizarre sites along the way like a giant blue ox or motels made out of teepees or my favorite, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (BEST. ICE CREAM. EVER). Or you can stop somewhere fabulous for some great Shakespeare! Guess what!? In most cities you can find great Shakespeare Festivals pretty easily!

Educators always say, and I’m sure you have heard this before, the best way to understand Shakespeare is to see Shakespeare PERFORMED (and even more so, perform it yourself!). Well, across the country and around the world there are festivals literally everywhere. The coolest part are the different venues. Some are in replica Globe Theaters: (San Diego, Ashland, Utah) others are in a park, others set on a lake, and so on… beautiful venues for beautiful theater.

I have composed a list of Shakespeare Festivals to make it easy to find a show around the globe while you’re on the road!

So the next road trip you are on, I expect to see a great photo of you and your family with the Shakespeare Festival you just visited!

If you run or are part of a Shakespeare Festival and you are not listed on my Shakespeare festival page, please let me know and I will be sure to add your organization.




Shakespeare Festivals was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Why Drama is so Important in School – PART 1 – COMPREHENSION

Part 1 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – COMPREHENSION

I received an email a few weeks ago from a teacher using my books/plays for her students because she wanted them to improve their skills in reading comprehension. She wrote the following to me:

“I used your Midsummer Night’s Dream as reading material. I couldn’t get my high school special ed students to reread anything. Their thinking was, “I have already read that once and do not need to repeat.” But, by introducing this as a play that needed to be word-perfect and beginning on page 1 each day, they were willing to participate. They were rehearsing for a show, not simply earning a grade for the reading class. Your materials made all the difference. Most important, reading skills improved.”

— LaVelle Brown, Special Ed teacher

why drama?Many schools are missing or losing performing arts classes due to budget cuts.  I’m writing a 12-part piece about why we do drama in school, where I present valuable reasons why we need theater in our education systems and why it’s critical to continue supporting it.

One of these reasons is COMPREHENSION.  I’ve had a number of teachers and parents use my books or enroll their child in my classes to boost their understanding of language.  Drama is amazing for this development!

Think about it:

  • Do kids only read a passage once in class? Typically, yes. Therefore, perform a play!
    • Participating in a play or a skit allows students to read the passages multiple times. By learning their lines they support their growth in comprehension.
  • Do you want kids to understand the storyline, theme, or see the “big picture”? Be in a performance!
    • We rehearse dozens of times before we actually perform on stage or in front of an audience. Didn’t get the concept on the first pass… how about the 30th?  Yep, comprehension increases with every pass through the material.
  • Oliver Twist for KidsDo you want to learn about a time in history? Do a play!

Through rehearsals, performances, costume creation and design, comprehension is assimilated often without the participants even realizing it.

From a purely scientific perspective, repetitive review of a script creates new neuro-pathways in the brain, which leads to long-term comprehension skills. Isn’t that one of our goals as teachers, to help improve the brain?

It’s more than just “doing a play”, it’s about creating a more robust child that will make a difference in our future.

I would love to hear your thoughts about drama in school!



Why Drama is so Important in School – PART 1 – COMPREHENSION was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Why Drama is so Important in Schools

Over the next several weeks and months I’ll be writing a 12-part series about why drama is so important in schools.  I’ll be covering several different aspects of the benefits of why we do drama, what it gives our kids that very few extra-curricular activities can give, as well as ideas and suggestions on to how to make theater…

Why Drama is so Important in Schools was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Family Reunion Readers Theater

Readers Theater is always a fun time, and even more so with my melodramatic stories which are short and funny. But, they are even funnier with a family reunion. As we all know who the hams are in our families, don’t we?

This past holiday season, when our family came together for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas, we did a readers theater three different times (it’s officially a family tradition now!)  What a BLAST! My son made sure he was the director, and he gave out 3-4 books that we all shared. Then he made impromptu costumes that we all put on and read our parts (or multiple parts in some cases). I never thought about using my books for a large team building get-together. However, doing readers theater at a family reunion is fantastic for building new and cherished memories.family reunion

What a wonderful way to hang out and make great new memories with the family!  We performed Jungle Book for Kids two different times at Thanksgiving, and then did Treasure Island for Kids at Christmas (one would think we would do A Christmas Carol for Kids, but nooooo). This was great for all our ages, from 6 to 96!

Next year we have already planned to do Macbeth (the nieces want to be witches!) and Julius Caesar (can’t wait to kill of Uncle Louie!) What fun to do a family readers theater during our family reunion.

Another rendition a friend of mine is doing at their family reunion, since they have over 50 family members, is a family competition. They are going to break them up into random teams, and then all perform.  Best performance gets to eat first! When m
y plays are only 15 minutes, it’ goes by quick and with much laughter!

I hope you enjoy the same!

Family Reunion Readers Theater was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books