Encouraging Expressive Play & Performance

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michael Quist

Michael has taught college-level mathematics and sociology; high school math, history, science, and speech/drama; and has a doctorate in education.

Children can be encouraged to express themselves and explore their personalities through play and performance in the classroom. This lesson discusses ways to encourage expression using dramatic play and performance opportunities.

Expressive Play and Performance

A young girl yells in rehearsal: 'No, no, NO!! I can't come to the party because I am asleep for a hundred years, and won't wake up until I eat the poisoned apple!' The dramatic young actress may have mixed up her fairy tales a little, but she more than makes up for it with her grand gestures and wonderful vocal flair.

Expressive play is a natural function of childhood development, as the creative minds of children find their outlet in telling stories dramatically. Expressive play refers to the child's immersion in an imaginary world, complete with characters, setting, and dialogue.

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  • 0:03 Expressive Play & Performance
  • 0:39 Benefits of Expressive Play
  • 1:50 Help Students Express…
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Benefits of Expressive Play

The various Toy Story movies emphasize this wonderful aspect of the relationship children can have with each other, and with their toys. In the classroom, this natural ability of children to invent stories, create characters, introduce remarkable dialogue, and imagine settings can have a powerful impact on childhood development.

Expressive play can provide a medium by which a child can communicate, free of challenge or risk, what may otherwise be very difficult. Shy children can create very outgoing, gregarious characters. Timid children may become brave heroes. Tough kids can suddenly find their sensitive side. Through drama and expressive play, children can safely explore (and learn about) a much larger world.

When the child willingly enters into a fantasy role - complete with new personality, new opportunities, and new reactions from others - he or she is now experiencing expressive play. Performance refers to expressive play that is openly offered for the view of others, whether in the classroom, the home, or even on the stage. When children publicly express themselves in this way, they reap a remarkable host of benefits that are almost unavailable from any other quarter in the child's life.

Help Students Express Themselves

Although children are natural story tellers and performers, their willingness to openly express themselves can be curbed by criticism, judgment, excessive controls, or limited environment. Here are some ways to help them - even the shy ones - to express themselves in creative and dramatic play:

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