Section 3: Exercises to Encourage Spontaneity and Improvisation
Action and sound
One student makes an action and a sound. All students copy it at the same immediately after. Each student does an action and sound and the group follows.
Encourage energy and “not-thinking”- the action and sound doesn’t need to make sense.
Guided Narration and Movement
Starting Position:Ask the class to move around the space. Warm them up with the Stop/Start exercise first.
Read out the following loudly and encourage them to act out/physicalize the key words (underlined) that you will emphasise.
“Our solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago from a dense cloud of interstellar gas and dust. The cloud collapsed, possibly due to the shockwave of a nearby exploding star, called a supernova. When this dust cloud collapsed, it formed a solar nebula – a spinning, swirling disk of material.
At the centre, gravity pulled more and more material in. Eventually, the pressure in the core was so great that *hydrogen atoms began to combine and form helium, releasing a tremendous amount of energy With that, our Sun was born , and it eventually amassed more than 99% of the available matter.”
Adaptation: Guided narration and movement can be used with other lesson topics e.g. the atmosphere, climate changes, bodily functions- different organs moving and connecting to others
I am the Tree!
Starting Position: Group circle – Standing
Group discussion – as a group, participants call out the parts of a full tree eg. branch, twig, roots etc.
Part 1 – Physicalize the parts of the tree- Ask a volunteer to jump into the middle of the circle loudly saying, “I AM THE TREE!” , whilst also becoming a frozen image of the tree.
(Teacher can demonstrate this first)
Tell the group that, in turns, they can jump into the centre and add to the image of the tree
by adding the parts to it (ideally they will say things like “I am the roots/ branch/ leaf/etc. of/ in the tree.”). They will do a freeze of their image too, attaching themselves to the original tree freeze.
NB. Encourage participants to finish the sentence with “….of/in the tree” (This keeps it about the tree itself and not things beside/ away from the tree.)
Group discussion – what makes a tree thrive or flourish? Name the things that help the tree to survive. It needs the roots, water, sun etc. It cannot radiate life to others (O2) without being sustained itself.
Part 2 – Physicalize the requirements as above i.e. “I am the sun radiating to the tree! I am the water nourishing the tree. I am the CO2 of the tree! “etc.
The completed tree shows the basic needs we require to grow as human beings. Without the roots, soil, water, CO2 etc. the branches will not grow, will not be able to grow leaves to shelter the tree’s birds and animals or provide oxygen for humans.
Group discussion: Name the benefits of the thriving tree. What does it offer? E.g. shelter,
oxygen, home for animals.
Part 3 – Physicalize the benefits – As above: “I am the Shelter of the tree” etc.
Adaptation: The exercise can be used for other words apart from the tree e.g. The Heart, the 3 pin plug, the cell, the atom etc
Progression: Re. the heart. On the count of 3, the heart could “move” ie. come alive – pumping, blood flowing etc.
When the students have named the heart parts, the game could be expanded to include more of the body that the heart and blood flow effects i.e. other organs, veins, arteries, capillaries, limbs etc.
Word – Turn – Freeze
Starting Position: Ask the students to stand in a large circle. Ask them to turn around facing the walls and to close their eyes.
When the teacher calls a word, they will turn around into the circle, opening eyes and making a freeze of that word. Encourage quick thinking/ instinct. There is no right or wrong. (E.g. Some might become an actual car, some might be driving the car.) Note: Objects and Characters that are good to use – Car, tree, chair, book, eagle, bicycle. Witch, dragon, wizard, teacher. Happy, Afraid, surprise etc. (Objects, characters, emotions.)
Note: Teacher does a demonstration first e.g. as a Tree >
Progression: On the count of 3, students can “move” their freeze i.e. make a sound and move. (Some students will have been trying this already.) A frozen heart can now be pumping.
Adaptation: Use words from the lesson e.g. heart, spark, plug./p>
10 Second Freezes
Starting Position: Students are in smaller groups of 4-5.
Tell groups that they have 10-15 seconds to build objects using their bodies e.g. a car, a shoe, a rocket, a bicycle, The Eiffel Tower etc. Make the exercise competitive by judging the freezes.
Progression: On the count of 3, students can bring their object to life i.e. the car will move/ make sound.
Adaptation: Students build objects from the topic learning e.g. the plant cell, the atom, the heart, the lungs etc.
Move! Move! Move!
Starting Position: Starting Position: The students sit in a circle. Chairs are evenly spaced. The teacher/ caller stands in the middle.
When the Caller yells out “Move!”, Students move one place to the left. Practice this a few times.
When the caller calls out “Move! Move!”, the students all move one place to the right.
Practice this a few times.
When the caller calls “Move! Move! Move!”, the students must all find a seat anywhere in the circle that is not beside them.
After practicing the above, now, after one of the calls, the teacher will take a seat, leaving one student standing. This student is the new caller. The element of competition has now been introduced.
NOTE: During the competitive game, no-one is allowed to sit in the same chair they were just occupying. Also, no-one is allowed to push anyone to get to a chair or push anyone out of a chair, or to steal it out from under anyone. And there should be no running. Play the game as such a few times.
Progression: Instruct the students to quickly suggest a topic for the caller in the middle to talk about e.g. schoolbags. The student will talk about the topic until s/he is ready to stop and use a Move! / Move! Move! or Move! Move! Move! call to try and gain a seat again.
Adaptation: Plenary. The caller left in the middle must talk about something they learnt about in the lesson that day, even if it’s only a word. The teacher can opt to use a hat of written facts and the student can pick one to present to the class.
Note: Encourage good presentation skills. The student can use eye-contact, speak clearly, answer questions and turn around in the circle to connect with their audience.