Excerpted from Actively Engaged:Theater Games as a Dynamic Teaching Tool in the Classroom, written by Priscilla Kane Hellweg and due out in 2016.
Notes: Imaginary Objects Pass is a primer for pantomime, and a very accessible way for young children to feel as if they are actually acting. It’s also really good discipline-based training for older youth to exhibit agility and self-control. Many students shine in this kinesthetic approach to learning, and teachers often remark that they are able to see a new (successful) side to certain student’s behavior.
Developing observation skills is an essential part of learning, and a standard in most science curricula. I often use imaginary object passing as an arts integration warm up activity when working in elementary and middle school science classes. The students (and teachers) become highly engaged. The list of possible imaginary objects to pass is limited only by our imagination.
Object of the Game: To pass an imaginary object around the circle, maintaining its consistent size, shape, and weight.
Recommended for: Groups in Grades K – Adult. Time Needed: 5-15 minutes Room set up: A cleared space with room for group to stand in a large circle. Materials Needed: None Skill Development: Concentration, Cooperation, Creative Imagination, Observation, Participation, Self-control, Spatial Awareness
Begin in a circle formation. Choose an object with which everyone in the circle will be familiar. Maybe begin with the ball.
When the sixth person has the ball, ask him/her to imagine it as a heavy boulder. Their job is to change from carrying the ball into holding a heavy boulder.
COACHING NOTE: For the sake of drama, I like to choose something with a different nature than the last. Turning the ball into a boulder asks the participant to imagine weight. Their whole body shifts to accommodate the different in weight.
Pass the boulder to the next five or so people, and then change the bolder into a little kitten. After the next five, try a jumpy toad. After that, try a dirty diaper. (A little comedy goes a long way to make people feel engaged!)
Once you notice the students are getting the hang of adapting their bodies to reflect the changing objects, or creatures as the case may be, ask them to suggest ideas.
Side coaching is important to keep everyone observing the work being done. Add suggestions as needed. If passing a bag of potatoes - feel the weight. If passing an inchworm, let it crawl from one hand to another. If passing a lit candle, protect the flame from wind and watch out for the hot drips of fax.
Variation of the Game as a Closure Activity:
One of my favorites object to pass at the end of a class is sand. It’s almost therapeutic in the way it moves through your hands.
With sand passing in particular, I encourage you to demonstrate the activity with care. Take the time to brush off every last grain of sand from your hands to the next person’s hands. Notice the variations in the way people choose to pass the sand.
COACHING NOTE: I’ve been known to make up a whole story about where I got this particular sand. (Red volcanic sand from a beach in Hawaii where I was on vacation 15 years ago!) By sharing my story, the students know I am connected to the sand, and I care about sharing it with them. I go so far as to tell my students that I’m sharing it with them because I want them to enjoy it, but that I’d like every grain of sand returned back to me. I tell them point blank, “If you don’t think you can handle my sand with respect, then I’m asking you to choose to just watch the activity and not participate. I’m trusting you with my sand.”
99% of the time, when presented with this, students will choose to step up and pass the sand. Every once in a while however, a student will choose to “watch only”. When that happens I thank them for taking me seriously, and I let them know that I really respect their choice. It’s a wonderful teaching opportunity to let students choose to exhibit self-control and respect.