Over the many years that I have been teaching Performing arts skills to children, I have found that the younger the child, the less inhibited they are when it comes to being silly, creative and expressive. The older we get, the more self conscious we become, and a lot of performing arts training revolves around creating a safe space to allow students to express themselves freely, as well as encouraging self confidence.
At Little Voices, we are a safe space for us all to try things out, to be as creative as we can and to have a culture of being able to make mistakes; having said that, we all need a place to start to get the creative juices flowing, so here are a few ideas and exercises to help your little one to express themselves.
- Vocal expression – One of the games we like to play is “Apple Pie”, which is a really simple game, you select someone who is ON, that person closes their eyes/moves away, you select one person to say “Apple Pie” (this can be any phrase/words you choose), and they have to use their voice creatively to disguise themselves as the person who is speaking. Some examples you can use is “speak like an elephant”, moving on to “like an angry lion” to “like someone who is very happy”. This helps children to be able to characterise emotions through their voice as well as recognise feelings in others, reading into and helping them to understand those subtle ways of communicating.
- Musical listening- Another way of identifying emotions can be expression through music. To get the conversation going, you can play any piece of music, and ask your child to say three things that it makes them think of, a colour, a place or an animal (you can do all three or one at a time). Once this conversation is going, you can switch to helping them to compose! You don’t need anything fancy for this, just your voice or a table top to tap on, and you can start simple, can you tap a rhythm that sounds like an Elephant to you? There is no wrong way to do it, and the most important thing is that you model confidence. Of course, if you have any percussion instruments lying around, or a keyboard app on your tablet, this works really well too
- Human clay- This exercise involves working together, on is the sculptor and one is the clay, the sculptor models their clay into whatever position they wish, if there are more than two of you, you can ask others to guess what emotion the sculptor is trying to create, as talk about what each body part might be doing when someone looks excited, disappointed, relaxed etc. try to be specific with the words rather than more generic ones like happy or sad.
I really hope that these are helpful in getting a conversation going or to help your little one express their emotions with a little more clarity. This time is very difficult for them and for all their resilience and strength, I know it’s very tough for us as parents to see them struggle missing their friends and routine.
Little Voices is here to help in any way we can and we are sending lots of positivity out to you all.
A big virtual hug,