Here in New England, the weather is always changing. One day we have a wintry blast, the next day it's sixty degrees! At Class Ideas, however, we aim for consistency, offering you fresh ideas every month on a variety of topics to try in your classroom or at home.
To start off the New Year right, we're taking a new look at a subject close to parents' and teachers' hearts: speech and language development. Read this month's article for a fun way to encourage children's speech and language skills (hint: it involves acting!). And be sure to check out the downloadable activity pages and Internet links for information and ideas you can use today.
So, without further ado, let's raise the curtain on this important topic!
As communicators, children are at their most enthusiastic when playacting with each other. Such early forays into the dramatic don't have to stop in the playroom or on the playground. By setting up a "drama corner" in the classroom, teachers can encourage this healthy role-playing and the development of speech and language skills associated with it.
What is a drama corner?
A drama corner is an area of the classroom set aside for pairs or small groups of students to create role-plays. The area uses backdrops, props, and other materials to resemble a mini stage set. If planned and used thoughtfully, it's not just a place for students to go during free time, but a place to actively extend the learning taking place in your classroom. For example, some of its main aims are:
To allow students to practice oral language skills
To assess students? social skills and speaking and listening skills
To extend concepts or themes in a range of curriculum areas, for example, social studies (?workers in our community?), language arts (acting out a favorite story), or mathematics (using money in a make-believe store)
To stimulate creative writing (for example, playing atmospheric music while the students look at a particular setting)
How do I set up a drama corner?
A drama corner can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. You can change the corner regularly to support current themes or stories you are using, or you can use it to reflect seasons or special occasions at different times during the year.
Introduce the idea of the drama corner to the students and discuss the rules of using it?for example, ?Use a clear speaking voice,? ?Cooperate with your partner,? ?Treat the props carefully,? and so on. Students can be invited to use the drama corner during ?free play? time or when the class is completing group activities in the classroom. It is important that students have some experience of role-playing before they can use the drama corner. You might want to encourage students to present their role-plays to the class if they are comfortable doing so.
What types of settings could I use?
There are many everyday and fantasy locations that could be used for a drama corner. Some examples are:
A shop (pet shop, supermarket, etc.)
A house from a nursery rhyme or fairy tale (for example, Goldilocks, The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe)
A post office
An undersea cave
The South Pole
A picnic area
A bus or train
Your drama corner will need:
A backdrop ? This is central to creating an atmosphere in your drama corner. The backdrop can be large sheets of colored paper or material attached to the walls, a ?curtain? of material/paper strips, or murals created by the class.
Costumes ? A rack of simple costumes that suit the theme of the drama corer will help to stimulate the students? imaginations. Choose items of clothing that are easy for the students to put on and remove; for example, hats, gloves, aprons, large button-up shirts, masks, fairy wings, and so on.
Props ? Provide a range of props that allow plenty of scope for the students? role-plays; for example, a cash register and items for sale in the shop setting; envelopes, stamps, and pens for a post office. You could also provide labels for the props if you want the students to learn vocabulary for a particular theme. (And don?t forget to display appropriate books and/or pictures near the drama corner to help students with their role-plays.)
Acting out a favorite story or scene from history are great ways for children to practice their speech and language skills. These fun activities from Didax's popular Oral Language series link acting and speaking in ways that are sure to make your students more confident communicators.
What's the difference between "speech" and "language"? What are the "late eight" developing sounds? At what age should my child experience an "explosion" in speech development? As a parent (or teacher), what can I do to encourage my child's (students') speech and language development?
Click below for great articles by KidsHealth, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and more, answering these and many other questions about children's speech and language development.
At Class Ideas the emphasis is on change as 2009 gets underway. We'll be focusing on a different and visually dynamic way for teaching middle school math using an exciting new product: Interactive Transparencies for Algebra and Problem Solving by noted math author Evan Maletsky. We'll also be bringing you a wealth of other resources you can use in your middle school math classroom. Be sure not to miss this important issue!