Family Book Theater

Has Coronavirus (COVID-19) got your children stuck at home with boredom fever brewing? Don’t want your kids to spend endless hours on screen? Try acting out your favorite stories.

Whether your child’s school has just been closed or you’re homeschooling and suddenly realize you’re stuck at home for a while, the walls may seem to be closing in. Push them back, drape a theater curtain (ahem. a sheet) across them, and have some fun with your kiddos.

Act Out Your Favorite Stories

Children often love the chance to act out stories they love. Since mine were very small, they would take the Bible story we’d just read and act it out over and over again. I can’t tell you how many times Moses parted the Red Sea in our home, but I savor the memories of the three of us constantly switching roles so we’d all have a chance to be Moses, the Israelites crossing the sea, and Pharaoh (at the impetus of my eldest, of course, who loves all things fair).

From reading to your children and discovering what they love to read, I’m sure some stories rise to the top for your family. Why not take those stories and turn them into fun. It could just be fun to fill a moment, or it could be a longer-term project to fill more time.

Long-term and Short-term Productions

One need only to read the first chapters of Little Women to delight in the imaginations of a handful of children as the turn a story into a play. Minimal resources required. Children are very resourceful, and can use old boxes, other recycle material, scrap paper and cloth, and everyday items around the house to create scenes and props. A child’s broom handle (broom long-since removed as this stick more often functioned as a sword in a boy-mom’s house) becomes Moses’s staff, a blue picnic blanket becomes the Red Sea, and a stuffed sheep represents the flocks of the Israelites they brought with them.

The productions can be short or long. You might read the story and then immediately act it out on the spot. Or, you might take a story or poem and turn it into a production that the children create costumes and props for, memorize lines for, and rehearse over time, taking a week, a month, or a season to prepare. They may present it to just you or to a group of their friends and their friends’ families. They could even give out tickets. A group of kids I knew as a young adult did this regularly, creating their own theater group and amazing productions for their network of friends, church family, and youth leaders. This kind of project can flex to fill the time-frame you create as a family.

Dive Into A Good Book

Spend time diving into good books together with your children. You read, they read, older kids read to younger kids, younger kids read to older kids, and you read again. Just enjoy stories together. Find your favorites. Then discover together how to make more fun out of your favorite tales.

Your Time; Their Time

You might be wondering, “So, do I do this with my children or do they do it on their own?”

Yes.

Your children will likely be delighted at your involvement. Let your hair down, let loose, and have fun being creative with your kids. Be silly and laugh at yourself. Be sure to defer to them- let them be the boss in how this goes down. Let it emerge as they envision it- not you. Nothing takes the thrill off of child’s play more than a controlling adult arising as a dictator.

Or, if your children are excited and entirely motivated, let them own it completely, offering help only when asked. Don’t be too quick to solve problems your children could solve themselves, but give them direction towards solutions when helpful. Also realize their asking for help may be an invitation. Your children are inviting you to spend some time with them. These years fly away. Delight in them.

For the Wet Blanket and Screenaholic

Are you imagining one of you children saying, “BORING” to this idea? Do your kids prefer just to be sucked into a game on a device or to veg out on a movie? Sometimes, when limits are set and children realize they must find another option or find fun for themselves, they will warm up to new ideas.

You’re still the parent, and you can make requirements and set limits any time you find it wise for your children. (Just make sure that the boundaries you set are ones you will reinforce.) Here are some ideas:

  • Give out 5 tokens (strips of paper are fine) for screens a week. Children can use them whenever they want for 30 minutes of a screen. They can include siblings or not. Once they use them, they’re gone. (This is what our family doctor does).
  • Require children to read 1 hour for every hour on a screen.
  • Set a screen cap for the day. Once it’s used up, children must use their imaginations and find their fun.

Which Books Could We Use?

Which books are great for children to act out in your own make-shift theater?

Well, which stories are your family faves? A little imagination and ingenuity can make any of those treasures work. You don’t have to have all the characters (only-children can easily make plays), and you don’t have to make it overly elaborate. Have fun making do with what you have, and your children will have the satisfaction of knowing they accomplished something. Here are some story ideas to spark your own creativity:

*can easily be done with only children

If you have an only child, you and stuffed animals can fill in other roles. For example, you can be the big bad wolf and they can be all the pigs in turn (and/or vise versa).

What About You?

Have you or your kids ever acted out stories at home? What kind of stories were your favorites? Please tell us more!

More Like This

Sip Life Slowly and Enjoy It is designed to inspire you to take in that deep breath of the very good sights and sounds of your own life and to let it out slowly, with relish. If you’d like more ideas that might just cause a smile to creep back onto your face as you deal with the gritty and revel in the macro and micro of your life, check out some of these and be sure to follow:

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Copyright ©  2020 Angela Edmonds. All rights reserved.

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