Drama: Why Our Kids Love It!

Kids have amazing imaginations.  My kids have finished watching the X-Men, and my 10-year-old son has strapped an old watch in front of his eyes to approximate Cyclops.  The other kids have divvied up other roles to create new adventures for the mutants.  Using drama in children’s ministry taps into kids’ imaginations.

I am the children’s minister at a very small church in a small town south of Dallas.  In my “real life,” I am a computer programmer, but my real passion is children’s ministry.  Our Route 66 Children’s Ministry currently has seven kids in 1st-6th grade, so we don’t have a formal special needs ministry at this time.  However, I have five adopted children, and four of them are in children’s ministry.  I have one with Aspergers, two with ADHD, and one with cerebral palsy (very mild), so we have a de facto special needs program.

Drama is big part of our Sunday morning program.  I initially relied almost exclusively on drama performed for the kids by the teachers, but I have increasingly started using drama that the kids can perform themselves.  A couple of great resource for this are 30 Old Testament Quickskits for Kids and 30 New Testament Quickskits for Kids by Steven James.  These provide 60 funny and faithful retellings of Bible stories that kids can perform with little or no preparation.  We also do dramas I call Make-A-Scene, where I narrate a Bible story and let the kids act it out themselves or with puppets.  The kids absolutely love acting out the Bible
stories.

I don’t know anything about the science behind what I am doing, but I can share with you how my kids react to the drama.  My two with ADHD (a ten-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl who also has problems with her fine motor skills) can hardly wait each week to act out the Bible story.  It allows them to get out of their seat and experience the story in an active, kinesthetic way.  The following week when I review the story, they can often tell me something their character said or did.  I can then use that to help them recall the story.  Additionally, it helps them expel some energy, so they can pay better attention during the lesson that follows.

I have a nine-year-old daughter with CP, but it is so mild that it does not prevent her from doing anything in class.  She is, however, very shy.  She has always hated doing anything in front of the class or congregation.  Sometimes it is hard even to get her to sing during praise time.  The Quickskits nearly all have a narrator, and she was willing to take that part.  After several months, she got tired to always being the narrator and wanted another part.  She even took a non-speaking part in last year’s Christmas play.

Finally, we have my ten-year-old son with Asperger’s Syndrome.  He is also dyslexic and reads below grade level.  He loves to do these dramas.  He is willing to get up in front of the class and read, even though his reading can be rough at times.  He is a very visual learner, and the skits (whether he’s an actor or the audience) give him something to look at instead of just having the story read to him.  In fact, he is often the one who can best recall the story from the previous week.  He gets the names all wrong, but he knows the gist of the story.

There is a painting by Rembrandt depicting the scene where the disciples are frantic while a storm swirls around their boat while Jesus sleeps.  If you count the number of people on the boat, you will find there are 14:  Jesus, the 12 disciples, and Rembrandt.  He has painted himself into the Bible story.  This is what drama allows the kids to do.  It puts them in the Bible story.  It is my experience that all kids – special needs or not – respond to drama in children’s ministry.  It not only gives them a multisensory experience and engages their imaginations, it gives them a supportive
environment to gain the confidence to get in front of a group of people and speak.

That’s an overview of what we are doing, and I didn’t even get into puppets.  I’d love to hear your ideas.

Author:  Jeff Childs (Children’s Minister)

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods

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