Create your own family theater masterpiece

If you have kids, you might think there’s already enough drama in your house. But why not channel all that emotion into your own family movie or play? It can be a great way to jumpstart kids’ imaginations, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny.

You don’t even have to start with a script; the play can be completely improvised. Start with an idea, then the next person builds on that idea until a story begins to form, says Jill Olson, assistant director of operations at iO Theater in Chicago, which specializes in children’s improv. To keep kids motivated, help them find topics they’re interested in, such as travel or princesses. If there’s more than one theme, consider working on short vignettes.

Many kids will just let their creativity flow uninhibited, but if your kids need help getting started, ask them to demonstrate how silly they can be. “You can never be too silly, and that gets them all on the same level, so it’s not one kid alone in the spotlight,” Olson says. “Or we read books and then do some creative drama, like the cows typing from Click, Clack, Moo.” Or use classic stories, such as the Three Little Pigs, and tell it from someone else’s perspective, such as the Big Bad Wolf.

For scenery, construction paper can become just about anything. At iO, scenery is butcher paper that children draw on for the set. Search around your own house for items to use as props and costumes.

And when you’re ready, consider getting your efforts onto a permanent record. “In a family setting, especially if you do an entire story … it’s completely filmable and it’s something a family can hold onto,” Olson says.

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