Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaching Method - Dramatization

You might think dramatization wouldn’t work as a method for teaching a song, but for some songs it works perfectly. Recently, I needed to teach the third verse to “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus.” Since I had to review two other songs that the children had just learned, I didn’t have much time to spend teaching. I needed something that would fix the images of the song in the minds of the children so that I wouldn’t need to keep going over it. After considering several other methods, I decided to dramatize it.

I invited two children to hold the ends of a length of blue fabric from the costume box and showed them how to move their arms to make a “rolling sea.” I found a small box for a boat to toss on the fabric during the tempest. I held up the picture of Jesus stilling the storm for the phrase about the “Master, ready and kind.” Then I used simple hand actions for the words “chided” and “hushed.” After we were set up, I simply sang the song and it worked great. We talked about the old-fashioned words and practiced the phrase with the hand actions and they were already singing with me after one more time through. I was thrilled to have it work so well with so little time spent teaching.

Last Christmas I used dramatization to teach “Once Within a Lowly Stable” and it worked just as well for this song. I took some simple props: a scarf for the loving mother, a doll for the baby, a shoe box lid and some yellow yarn for a manger, and two simple, hand drawn sheep and ox “masks”on sticks. I set up a simple tableau by inviting two children to stand and hold their arms in an arch to form a stable. Two other children knelt on either side of those children and held the sheep and ox masks in front of their faces. Mary knelt on the floor under the arch and placed the “baby” in the “manger” at the appropriate time during the song. Then I simply sang the song and pointed to the props as I sang. The children listened so well that they were singing with me the second time through. Dramatization is a really fun way to teach a song!

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