Calling all Countdown Card Collectors!!!

How to use Countdown Collector Cards in Drama

I am a self confessed Countdown Card collector. I have exchanged many 'I still need...'texts (text recipients you know who you are - I'm not alone), filed and organised, swapped and posted cards and been really nice to check out operators in the hopes they might slide an extra few cards my way! That sense of achievement as I slid the 'last' card into the pocket - so satisfying (I clearly need to get out more!).

With completed albums (out of the reach of little hands), there is still the excess that are regularly strewn around our lounge room floor with the accompanying paraphernalia - projectors, stickers, animal making sound machines and the like.

So here are some suggestions of ways to use these precious little rectangles in other creative and productive ways to engage your children or students!

20 Picture books that can spark the imagination!

There's no such thing as a Gruffalo!

Here is a list of our favourites, many of which have been well road tested by my son! A great go to list if you want to buy a gift or change up your reading material.
    These stories come in handy when devising a thematic drama lesson, containing lots of potential to cover key drama learning areas. I look forward to choosing a story and sharing a lesson plan down the track!

    20 Picture books that can spark the imagination!
    1. The Gruffalo By Julia Donaldson
    2. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt By Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
    3. Mr Muggs the Library Cat by Dave Gunson

    Let the climbing frame become the Pirate Ship!

    An adventurous pirate
    Let the climbing frame become the Pirate Ship!

    Parents and caregivers, here's 10 quick ideas to bring out some creativity when you're at the park with your little ones:

    1. Use park play space structures to your advantage.

    “Ahoy! Where be that treasure? Arrrgh!?” Build stories with your children, role playing your quest to search for buried treasure!

    Utilising playground equipment is an easy way to develop gross motor skills.

    Climbing and hanging help strengthen muscles, swinging and seesawing support the vestibular system, which is to do with balance.

    Playgrounds help children develop their spatial awareness and depth perception, given the many levels that can be found in the construction of playground equipment.

    2. Grab your binoculars, magnifying glasses and set off on your expedition! Take an explorers box and gather things of interest from nature or hunt for insects.

    You could use these things to take home and create pictures, or make 3D scenes. Leaves, pine cones, stones and bark have lots of artistic potential.

    3. It’s a race - explore space! Give instructions, skip to the swings, hop to the slide, balance on the rocks, wiggle like a worm to the see saw and the list continues.

    Let your children share their own movement ideas too!

    4. Roll!

    Literally roll down any grassy slopes you can find! Rolling is a great sensory experience.
    It builds strength and coordination and assists with both vestibular and midline development!

    5. Cup of tea? Don't mind if I do!

    Take Teddy to the park and have a picnic! Let the kids take the reins (with you as the helper) preparing food, packing and setting it out once at the park.

    Pretending twigs, leafs etc are delicious foods is another fun option!

    6. Take bubble wands and imagine!

    Chase them, catch them, run away from them, jump on them!

    Turn them into monsters, robots, fairy dust... etc. Bubble play has many educational benefits. It helps develop fine motor, oral and visual tracking skills along with hand/eye coordination.

    7. Don’t just feed the ducks, be the ducks!

    Quack, waddle, preen your wings! Pretend to dive and swim in the water.

    Observe and talk about them, chase and feed them. You could even go home and draw them and write a story about your experience.

    8. Get set go! Plan an obstacle course that uses playground equipment.

    Up the steps backwards, down the slide, run and touch the swing frame, race around the rubbish bin and then up to the top of the climbing frame.

    Super heroes run pretty fast! Are you game to wear your capes?

    9. You can’t go wrong with Hide and Go Seek, Tag, Follow the Leader or Eye Spy. Timeless games that all children love to play!

    10. Scavenger Hunt!

    Kids love to look for things. Give them a bag to collect things from a list or a pencil and paper to check off found items. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as:
    • Find a smooth leaf
    • Find a pointy leaf
    • Find a Brown leaf
    • Find a big leaf

    This could be just what you need to keep your little ones busy searching!

    Pirate image copyright Jenae Ryan

    How creative drama is like doing long division (in a good way!)

    long division calculation

    How creative drama is like long division (in a good way!)

    While I'm all about moving with the times and equipping children with the skills they need to navigate their way around the many electronic devices at their fingertips, creative drama classes ensures the art of confident communication and self-expression isn't buried under a pile of laptops and smart boards.

    Participating in such classes is a bit like long division.

    Effective communication isn’t a quick calculation. It requires thoughtful teaching steps, giving children tiers of skills to build upon.

    It's important that the art of effective verbal communication is not lost amidst hours of screen time watching Youtube videos.

    There is no doubt that children need strong verbal skills to become competent inquirers as the ability to communicate competently with a dash of 'pizazz' is what takes students down the path of success in all areas of their life.

    Exploring drama is an excellent way to develop these skills.

    Here are some examples of how it helps students to connect with others, so they can convey ideas, opinions, emotions and meaning through a range of genre, purposefully, appropriately and effectively.

    Lessons teach students to:
    • Speak clearly loudly and expressively such as by using tongue twisters
    • Look after their voices by utilising vocal warm ups and short songs
    • Use eye contact developed through games such as eyes up, eyes down
    • Listen and concentrate by following instructions, watching and engaging as their peers perform
    • Form and share opinions by participating in conversational activities based on a topic. This could be for example by telling a class mate about your favourite animal, give reasons. Next step: act it out
    • Reflect on learning. Verbalise a process, what went well, what might you do differently next time?
    • Think quick such as by use of  theatre sports games 
    • Team work. Encouragement of cooperative activities such as pass the hoop around the circle
    • Social skills and role play.  Having dramatic telephone conversations, pretending to be in different settings like the hairdresser or a spaceship, a great way to extend vocab! 
    • Understand their emotions, imagination and empathy. This can be done by games such as ‘Genre Re-play’ and improvised work enable students to explore a range of emotion and develop an understanding of their impact)
    Like tackling a maths problem the old fashioned way, each of these areas are steps in achieving the desired result.

    Unlike evolving technological breakthroughs where the need to do long division has passed, these skills are timeless.

    This makes creative drama an exceptional platform to provide fundamental life skills which can only but hold our children in good stead for their future endeavors.