Every student who comes to class is coming from a different place. Some are having a great day, others a horrible day. Some are coming in energized, others distracted. Some are looking to impress, others are looking to hide. Improv theater training is a very intense and interactive activity, so teachers and directors had to develop ways to get everyone together. Not only to get everyone on the same page, ready to perform, but also to develop trust and a sense of community within the group.
The solution to this problem are a set of games known as “Warm-ups.” Warm-ups are quick, fun, high energy games that promote focus, build community and provide energy to a group. For this reason they are great for any classroom, and have become a staple for many educational programs popular with school districts. They should not be academic, although they could help to set a theme, instead they are used to set a tone.
Starting the class with a quick "warm-up" will get everyone on the same page. Warm-ups provide focus and energy that more passive, behind the desk, activities don't. They are physical, interactive, social and can set the tone for a lesson or the year! They are also a great "shared experience" that helps develop a sense of community.
Warm-ups can also be used in the middle of class, when kids are starting to drift off or get antsy. Well timed warm-ups reenergize students as focus starts to wane, as well as provide a 're-set' when the group is stuck and is struggling to get out of its own way!
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Games that Build Community
Improv games are a great way for groups to get to know each other better. The games that follow provide everyone with opportunities to share something about themselves, or to interact in a fun and active way. Players naturally share with each other, find out things they have in common and what makes them unique.
Great circle game for the first day. It is fun, active, and informative. It is a great way to learn names and information about everyone in the group. Kids are put on the spot, but they get to choose what they want to share so it is less intimidating than other games like it.
A great way to get a group moving and interacting in a silly, but not TOO silly, way. Best for first day activity with groups that don’t know each other well.
This game gets players to interact and move around. There is a lot of physical contact, "hand to hand", "knee to knee", "back to back", etc. so it brings players out of their comfort zone a bit. It is used in theater classes to get players more comfortable with physical interaction on stage, physical education classes use it a lot as well.
This is a great game for very large groups, 50-100. Each kid gets a letter and must run around arranging themselves into words of varying lengths.
This game introduces and demonstrates the concept of having someone’s back. That support comes from listening and taking action. Students are asked to start singing, but are “saved” by a fellow player before they get to where they don’t remember the lines.
Players sit in a circle and create a sound and action that represents them, teaches it to the group, and then plays a game of ‘catch’ with the sounds, passing the energy across the room.
Games that Energize!
Energizers are games that infuse energy into a group. They are silly, fun, active and often produce tons of laughter. If the lesson requires students to be active and engaged with each other, these games are a great wake up call for the start of class. For lessons that require focused attention for extended periods of time, they can be used in the middle of class as a way to re-energize and refocus a group.
This game is popular with EVERYONE. It is silly and physical and is a great way to get players moving and shaking!
No one can play this game without laughing! It is a quick, silly game that gives kids an opportunity to make connections and scream in class.
This is a fun game that has players practice their awareness and sensitivity to the group. Kids are asked to lead at times and follow at others, and figure out when its appropriate to do one or the other.
The Mosquito Game
Players stand in a circle and clap in unison, duck so that others can clap over them. Starts off challenging, but with a little focus and teamwork it is easy to master.
Fast, silly circle game that generates confusion and laughter.
Fast, silly circle game. It seems simple, but requires focus to be successful.
Great excuse for kids to act silly. Players face each other across the room in a line and pairs of students invent a silly walk and use it to walk across the room toward each other. When they meet, they imitate their partner’s walk.
Games that provide Focus
Perhaps a group is exhibiting a bit too much energy, and the goal is to establish an atmosphere of focus and thought. These games focus students’ minds on solving a problem and builds a sense of awareness of others in the room.
This game is about practicing how to control your energy. It is a quick, simple game that gives players permission to be excited and jubilant, but also gives them the practice to bring themselves down from that place.
This is a pure focus game. It seems simple, but is actually very difficult for most groups. Groups learn to be very sensitive to other players and develop a feel for the environment.
This circle game practices the act of giving and receiving gifts. Players practice spontaneity and reacting in the moment while it gives the teacher an opportunity to talk about gift exchanging in general. A great Christmas theme game!!!
Creating a story with a beginning, middle and and end only adding one word at a time or one phrase at a time gets players focused on story telling and listening to and supporting each other toward a common goal!
This circle game focuses on simple words and their definitions. Players have to guess a word, but instead of saying the word, they have to give a definition for it. Fun as a family car game too!
This is a game that kids play competitively in groups. They are given a word and must come up with as many questions as they can that would have that word as the answer.