I had some success this week with a new lesson, and wanted to share. I always start the year with lots of nonverbal activities to ease anxiety my kids have over memorization. This week I had the kids make "neutral masks," which are just plain white masks with no real facial expression. Ours were super-ghetto: paper plates with eye holes and a yarn string around the head. Next time I'll try papier mache.
Then I took the list of adjectives we got at NITS. I wrote each word down on an index card. We sat in a circle. I gave a kid a card, and he had to act out that adjective nonverbally while wearing the mask so we couldn't see his facial expression. As you can imagine, it was nearly impossible for the class to guess the correct adjective.
But today we did the same thing, but I started them in pairs. Instead of acting an adjective alone, they got to work with a partner. And the words were easier to guess because things seemed more clear. Then we did groups of three, four, and so on (I'd give them a minute or two to prepare what they were going to present). The larger the group, the clearer things seemed, which led to a great wrap-up about the collaborative nature of theatre, and why cooperation and connection is so important in what we do.