What is Sunshine Drama?

Sunshine Drama offers Creative Drama classes from preschool through to intermediate aged children.

Through a range of activities, challenges and games, classes enable students to:

  • Unlock their imaginations and creativity
  • Speak effectively and expressively
  • Think spontaneously outside the square
  • Let their confidence soar to new heights
  • Develop social skills that cross into all areas of life

If you wish to learn more about classes, read our curriculum.

Dramatic play with Building Blocks!

Colourful Building Blocks

What is Block Play and what are the benefits?

Playing with single unit building blocks is a valuable learning activity for all ages with so much scope for creativity. They are available in different materials, shapes, sizes and colours to best suit different age groups.

Using blocks is a fun, imaginative and engaging way that enables cognitive development to take off. It develops fine motor skills, hand - eye coordination along with planning and organisational skills.

It enables children to develop emotional and social skills (respect, turn taking, and cooperation) when working with others.

Building with blocks develops concentration, persistence and patience as children work through the process of overcoming challenges and finding solutions.

It teaches children that we all have different perspectives as they share their ideas and listen to others and it of course brings a great sense of satisfaction to share in the happiness of completed projects!

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” - Albert Einstein

What can block play tell us about our children?

We can learn a great deal about children by observing their approach to block play. Here are some reflective points:
  • What is their consistency in application / level of concentration? 
  • Method of construction - any planning? 
  • How do they overcome challenges? 
  • Do they take take risks? 
  • Are they forming Independent work habits? 
  • How do they verbalise their process? (describing how and what they have made) 
  • Do they prefer to work alone or collaboratively with their peers? 
  • Is the child a leader, follower or a collaborator?

Rather than asking "What is it? or saying "fix it like this" some suggestions are:
  • Tell me all about your building? 
  • I wonder why your structure is falling down? 
  • I've noticed you keep using that blue block, could you try an different one? 
  • Tell me about your jungle? 
  • How will the monkey's swing from tree to tree? 
  • How did you start? What did you do next? 
  • This part is awesome, can you tell me why you built the tunnel like this? 
  • Who might live here? Where would they eat dinner? etc 
  • What is your favourite part of your construction? 
  • Is their anything you would like to or could add?

How blocks can be used for dramatic play?

Use picture books to fuel imagination. Build a scene from a story. You could display the book as an inspiration point. For example, build the forest from The Gruffalo.

Using a story such as the Three Billy Goats Gruff, build a bridge with blocks and act out the story using popsicle stick goat puppets or change the story up and choose different animals.

Stick a full sized photo of a child onto a block and cover with wide tape or clear book cover. The children can then put themselves and their friends into the construction. For example if the children have made a town, the block people can go shopping. Great for role play!

Use plastic animals, dinosaurs or toys, stuffed animals, action figures to play in the block constructions. Build a zoo, jungle or park etc to suit the toy. Model creating a story line with the toys and play alongside children to develop their understanding of plot development.

Make roads in all sorts of shapes and patterns. Drive the cars down the road! Create a story around this. Where are the people in the cars going? Are their any stops on the way?

Provide pictures of constructions such as towers, bridges, sky scrapers, castles etc and let this be the start of where the imagination goes!

Throw fabric over a block construction and create a scene. Maybe its a dark gloomy forest or tall castle nestled in the hills. Who lives there? What is the characters problem? How will they solve it? All great oral narrative story telling development.

You don't just have to use wooden blocks to build. Here are some things that you might like to add to your collection: DVD covers, CDs, tins, paper towel rolls, cracker boxes, yogurt pottles.

Wrap blocks in tin foil or paper and role play birthdays or Christmas! This is one of my little one's favorite things to do!

Use diggers and the like to move the rubble (blocks) at the construction site! Some kids are big transporters and love to move blocks and make piles!

Some other fun ideas!

Make towers outside to form a shadow and draw around the outline with chalk.

Using a large shallow tray, shaving foam, and blocks (along with supervision!!) let the kids have fun using the foam like cement to build, build build!!

Draw a shape and get the children to fill the shape with blocks (can make it into a challenge, racing against the clock or other friends) Get children to draw their own shapes and fill them.

Use blocks to develop maths' concepts: make patterns, sort and classify blocks by shape and or colour. Lie a mirror on the floor, add blocks and check out the reflections!

Take pictures of all of the magical and intricate structures and scenes that grace your lounge or classroom floors - capture the success, creativity, learning and fun!

Creative Commons image used courtesy stevendepolo on Flickr.

10 ideas that can help fill your child's confidence bucket

inspiring children to be confident

Over the years parents have shared with me thoughts like 'I wish that my child would':
  • join in more
  • participate, interact
  • put their hand up 
  • speak up
  • communicate more
  • try new things
  • be more assertiv, 
  • develop new friendships….
And that all comes down to confidence. 

Confidence is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as:

The quality of being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future.

Whilst personality plays a role in determining the level of confidence we have, becoming “certain of our abilities” takes a great deal of nurturing and development from all those who interact with a child.

Parents, family, educators, members of the wider community (doctors etc) all play an instrumental role in modelling and instilling confidence in children.

I think of confidence as a bucket with a tiny hole in the bottom. We need to fill the bucket all day, every day. Throughout our lives, we might lose traces through the hole in the bucket.

This loss could be defined as our learning when we grow from our experiences. Such as if we fall when riding - we learn that we must keep pedaling!

These loses are countered with the consistent filling of the bucket from those who surround us, thus keeping our confidence supply abundant.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about teaching drama is the role I get to play in contributing to the growth of a student’s confidence.

Here are 10 ideas that help fill the confidence bucket!

The classic move - Costume dress up

All kids love to dress up!  It allows children to let their imaginations take charge, developing confidence with stepping into the role of other characters.

Neutral costumes work well such as an unmarked cape.

One day it might be for a super hero the next day for queen from a far off land!

Rhyme and Sing it

I cannot emphasize enough how important daily use rhymes (actions), poems, songs and stories are in supporting students confidence and literacy development, particularly younger children.

Relax and unwind

Tension can accompany shyness.

Relaxation plays a critical role in preparing our body to let the creativity flow.

Breathing, centering and relaxation exercises are very useful tools to have in our back pocket for any situation!  

My students enjoy breathing like:

Hissing snakes - breath in through the nose 2, 3,4 then out through the mouth 2,3,4 hissing like a snake.
Hoppy rabbits - 4 short nose twitches 2,3,4 then long exhale through the nose
Hibernating bears -  Inhale through the nose 2,3,4 Pause 1,2 exhale through the nose 2,3,4  Pause 1,2 repeat.

Retell a Story

Retelling a story in front of an audience is a great way for children to grow confidence in front of their peers.

By sharing a story in their own words and using character voices, provides children with a great learning experience that adds to the bucket.

Once students are comfortable with familiar stories, they could make up their own, along with giving short talks or sharing observations.

Mime it

Mime is an excellent way to build confidence as a performer as it focuses solely on movement, gesture and facial expressions to convey a message or situation.

Without speaking children can become comfortable with their space, other students and portraying a message using their own actions.

Role Play

A role play is where by a short scene is created based on simple story line. The story is based on realistic characters and situations.

Example: You are taking your cat to the Vet, but the cat refuses to get out of the carry cage, what will you do? 

By taking on the role of another character, children learn how to interact in a situation they may have some knowledge of but not necessarily have faced before, which is a great way to build confidence!

Speak it & Move it

A great voice warm up is to get students to say a line of dialogue as different characters.

Eg: Say - “Quick, ice the birthday cake!” as if you are the … queen, principal, a cat, doctor, dinosaur, inventor, goblin. Add in emotions - sad queen etc…  

Or add movement, walk as if you are surprised inventor… etc

This is a simple yet effective way for children to build confidence with character development.  

Team Build

Having opportunity to work collaboratively with others is key to developing social skills, self esteem and confidence.  

Although we collaborate through all improvised work, specific cooperative activities are a fun way for students to get to know each other and build confidence and trust in performing together.

I particularly like this link for great cohesion inspiration!

Experience the Theatre

Going to the theatre is a great way for children to see polished performance models and reinforces self confidence with the connection, - I enjoyed that performance, I would like to be able to do that too - and I can and I will :)

Also, as teachers modeling performance techniques for your students is important. This demonstrates to them that it’s fun to pretend and delve into the imagination.

If you lead the way it paves the way for them to follow.

Positive Feedback

Our words as a teacher are critical. Our feedback must be encouraging and supportive to enable confidence to bloom.

A simple and effective feedback  technique is: the combination of positive, constructive and then another positive statement.

Keep comments useful and substantial to enable growth.

Here's an example of feedback given to a child who is taking part in a characterisation exercise:

Positive: Great job because I could see you were elderly by the way you bent your back as you moved.

Constructive: Could you have pretended to hold a walking stick too?

Positive: The way you wobbled your voice when you spoke sounded convincing too!  Awesome thinking!

To sign off...

Sunshine Drama classes are a positive and fun way that children can explore their creativity, in a safe, encouraging atmosphere. 

The drama environment helps children discover themselves and build their self-assurance.

Children who become involved in drama classes learn to speak expressively and articulately, co-operate and compromise with others.

These lifelong skills are hugely beneficial to a student’s development of confidence!

Classes start July 29th. Here's the lesson timetable.