When it was about time to start preparing for our end-of-year performance, I went on the Internet in a desperate need to find some tips on how to teach 3 year old kids their lines in an age-appropriate manner. Yet, I couldn’t find any easy to assimilate, step-by-step guide. Eventually, I had no other alternative but to stretch my thinking and come up with an approach of my own which I have outlined below.
Learning at an early age happens authentically and seamlessly when children are immersed in an engaging and stimulating environment where play-based learning takes place. We all know that kids don’t have a reputation of remaining focused for long periods of time. Trying to teach children their lines straightforwardly by mere drilling won’t work. Therefore, the process of learning the lines for the play must take on the form of a game. In other words, the learning of the script inevitably calls for its gamification.
This year, we are doing Groompa’s Kindergarten – traditional Japanese story of an elephant who tries different jobs yet fails at everything he does because of his size. At the end, Groompa finds that making kids happy is his true calling.
In working with early age kids, it is advisable to break down the script into chunks (dramatic acts or scenes) and run through them separately. If possible, create the storyboard of the plot and prominently display the scenes, one at a time, to allow for independent viewing.
Re-enact all the actions through engaging activities. For example, we crafted all the props for the play, such as cookies, plates, shoes, pianos, cars and even baked real cookies. While working on the props, we sing along the song that repeats, with slight variations, throughout the play. Thus, the kids develop familiarity with the lines.
The story of Groompa’s Kindergarten happens to resemble our classroom organization and routine. The way the main character in the story adopts different vocations, the students in our class engage in different jobs on a daily basis. These jobs range from Teacher’s helper to Classroom cleaner and from Line-up leader to Brushing teeth leader. Through the act of getting picked for the daily duty, kids learn Groompa’s major line: “I am looking for a job. Is there anything I can do here?”
We’ve learned the rest of the songs through different activities. For example, learning the tune “Go, go, go away, go away my friend. You’ve worked hard but I’m afraid your time here has to end” happened by singing it each time the person who didn’t find a chair leaves the Musical chair game.
After the kids memorize their lines, we move on to discussing the way the characters feel and the emotions they express in every scene. Thus, we practice right pronunciation and intonation.
The key is to do little, in a fun way, and to do it often.
When everything was over, it was time to compile all our photos from the activities we had, the practice, and the performance itself into one original book:
At the end of the school year, about 25% of the kids rated our performance as one of the most memorable experience they have had throughout the year with the rest being Halloween, Sports Day, and our Takoyaki shop 🙂