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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.

Curious about drama classes for your child?


Come for a free lesson at Sunshine Drama


Sunshine Drama offers creative drama classes for preschoolers to Year Eight.

Classes enable students to explore creative thinking, build confidence and become effective communicators and performers.

Our term three season starts on 29 July at the Karori Recreation Centre and you are welcome to come along with your child to experience what Jenae Ryan and Sunshine Drama has to offer at no cost to you. 

Here's what makes Sunshine Drama Sunny!

  • Grow in confidence and self esteem
  • Opportunity to let the imaginative thinking flow
  • Extension of listening skills
  • Develop effective speaking and performance skills 
  • Participating in fun and engaging drama games 
  • Experience performing in front of an audience
  • Form new friendships outside of school
  • Let children explore their 'inner creative monkey!'

try a drama class for freeTo join us for a free / no obligation ‘check us out' lesson please contact Jenae Ryan on 0274 380 533 or at sunshinedrama.nz@gmail.com.

If you do decide to enrol your child, fees will be charged on a pro-rata basis for the remainder of the term. 

5 fun, economical & creative school holiday activities in Wellington!


5 fun, economical & creative school holiday activities ideas for July in Wellington!

School holidays are just around the corner. Check out some of these great activities happening around the capital this July!


New Zealand Police Museum - Police Dog Puppets


Description: “Make a police dog finger puppet in this creative and fun craft workshop for our youngest recruits. Each child takes home their own puppet. (Note: young children will require the assistance of a caregiver to complete their puppet).”

Location: Papakowhai Rd, Papakowhai, Porirua - Mana, Wellington

Dates: Monday 10 July 2017 – Friday 14 July 2017 2:00pm – 2:45pm

Age: 5+

Cost: Child Ticket $5.00

Bookings: Essential

Contact: NZ Police Museum (04) 238 3141 museum@police.govt.nz

Evening Creative Drama classes with Sunshine Drama


Does your child have sport and a zillion other things to do on Saturday? 


Sunshine Drama now offers a class on Wednesday evening!

Our creative lessons and activities are carefully devised to best meet the needs and interests of children.

Children will be challenged to extend themselves as creative thinkers, learners and performers as they explore the elements, techniques and conventions of drama.

Classes provide students with opportunities to build up confident communication skills, along with a healthy self esteem as they engage in a range of activities in a positive, cooperative and enthusiastic environment that's full of ideas.

If your child wants to be the next big thing, creative drama lessons will help get a hand on that Oscar!

Here's the need to know info!


Classes run Wednesday 2 August - 27th September (9 Week Term)

Class Time
Group
Age
Cost
Class Size
6.45 -7.45pm
Supernovas
11-13 yrs
$136
10


Location: Karori Recreation Centre, Meeting Room Two (Upstairs) 251 Karori Rd, Karori

Please refer to the Terms and Conditions for further information regarding cost and payment before submitting the Enrolment Form.

Feel free to contact teacher Jenae Ryan on 0274 380 533 with any questions or to discuss our classes for your child.

A 20% discount is offered for each child if more than one child is enrolled.

10 benefits your child may get from taking creative drama lessons

Kids doing creative drama

10 benefits your child may get from taking creative drama lessons with Sunshine Drama

If you’ve found this page, chances are you're looking to convince yourself why you should send your child to drama lessons. Frankly if you’ve got this far, just send them! Send them to Sunshine Drama!

But if you need to know some of the benefits that your child may gain from taking classes, have a read below.
  1. Accomplishing role play, movement, mime, improvisation, team work and using props imaginatively etc, provides fun and meaningful learning experiences that lead to students feeling confident, happy with a strong sense of self esteem.
  2. Children will learn to think on their feet. Or head, depending on the exercise!
  3. Through mime (conveying action, character, or emotion using only gesture, facial expression, and movement), students will develop their non verbal communication skills.
  4. Drama classes provide the opportunity to express their creative energy with out fear of failure in a supportive and positive environment.
  5. Learning by doing is one of the greatest ways to remember something. Learning how to be confident as you become confident  is treasured learning that will stay with a child forever. 
  6. Fast motion. Stop motion. Slow motion. Kids will learn how to change their gears mid moment, honing their ability to listen and follow instructions. 
  7. If there’s one fear adults often have, it’s speaking in public in front of an audience. Creative drama helps children with learning to use their voice effectively and speak and perform in front of their peers. As students do this more regularly, the more confident they will become. 
  8. Who doesn’t love dressing up?
  9. A child’s imagination knows no bounds. They will learn to create the most complex characters from different ideas, scene or props. Through a fun, playful environment, the true creative level of a child will come out. 
  10. Carpe Diem has almost become a clich├ęd saying, but seizing the day and moment is what drama is all about. Letting children have their own moments of self-discovery and growth as they share the fun and joy that drama brings is truly a special gift.

10 ways to use Hula Hoops in drama teaching

girl with a pink hula hoop

10 ways to use Hula Hoops in drama teaching

Are you looking for ways for your students to use hula hoops? These activities are great for both drama classes and as part of a teacher's classroom programme.

Why nursery rhymes are so important to a child's learning development

little miss muffet

There is so much more to Nursery Rhymes than meets the eye!


Sure, it's great fun to dissolve into giggles when you tickle your child's foot at the end of 'This Little Piggy went to Market' but there's also immensely valuable learning experiences that occur.

Building Oral Language


When a child hears and learns nursery rhymes, they are being exposed to new words (muffets and tuffets!) which will help them to become great little communicators as they expand their vocabulary.

Through vocabulary extension, they are strengthening their understanding of vowels & consonants and their connection in forming words. This in turn skips hand in hand with developing listening skills, as they concentrate on adding new words to their repertoires.

Rhymes enable children to practice effective speaking as they lend themselves nicely to developing pitch, volume, inflection and rhythm.

So singing and sharing these rhymes is a great way to help your child to learn to speak!

Brain Power


Nursery rhymes help children learn to recognise patterns (and/or rhyming couplets) which they can more easily commit to memory and recall the next time they say the rhyme.

Nursery rhymes also tell a concise story that can be followed very simply by the child. They usually have a beginning, middle and end. These sequencing of events helps a child to understand how stories are told. By understanding the sequence, it helps with direct recall of the rhyme.

This translates across to reading. Armed with the knowledge of how rhymes are told, the child is more readily able to comprehend story through the written word and of course it will hold them in good stead when they start writing stories of their own.

Other benefits of rhymes include learning simple mathmatics concepts "three bags full, one for the master" etc and exposure to one of my favourite parts of language, alliteration. Think "goosie goosie gander" or of Rudyard Kipling's "great gray green greasy Limpopo river".

Draw the rhyme


A fantastic way to broaden the experience of a nursery rhyme is to encourage your child to draw the story of the rhyme on paper and then discussing it with them.

Drawing characters and events from the rhyme can consolidate the many lessons that can be taken from rhymes. For example, by drawing the clock for 'Hickory Dickory Clock' concepts regarding time can be explored or ' Five Little Ducks' is a great way to explore counting to 5.

Formal research has shown time and time again that children do most of their learning in the first 8 years of their life so it is absolutely vital that children are exposed rhymes & stories of learning consistently through their early years.

Movement & Rhyme


Many nursery rhymes feature action movements and so are an effective way for the child to practice their motor skills. Using one's hands to make twinkling diamonds in the sky or to use our bodies to dramatise Incy Wincy spider climbing up the water spout are not only fun but help the child to engage their imaginations and explore movement creatively.

Sharing nursery rhymes, songs, limericks, poems and stories as part of a daily routine is one of the most important things parents and educators can do for children. Nothing is more important for your child than setting them up to become life long learners and confident communicators and rhymes provide a great avenue to become just that!

Here's a great list of nursery rhymes to try out.