Did you have school plays when you were in elementary school? In second grade, I cast as lead in our school production of Bambi. I was brand new to the school and extremely shy. Let’s just say I wasn’t playing against type.

In fifth grade, I was a singing Ostrich. I choked on stage and couldn’t remember my solo. Eventually, I looked at my music teacher who was mouthing the words and exaggerated movements. I croaked out my three short lines and the show went on.

My kids haven’t had that experience. I’m not sure if it’s just our area, but I’ve noticed dramatic arts seem to be big in preschool, then disappear once kids get into grade school.

So I thought it’d be fun to have the kids put on a show of their own. It’d be supremely adorable and something the kids would remember for years to come. Plus, it’s solid academic work wrapped up in fun.

According the the American Alliance for Theatre & Education, involvement in the dramatic arts improves academic performance. It improves both reading and writing skills (when kids are part of the playwriting process).

In this episode of Adventures in Learning, the kids gather with a few of their neighborhood friends to perform a play based on The Three Billy Goats Gruff. They re-worked the characters, and problem to create an original production.

I’ll be honest, this was one of our more ambitious projects. It took us an entire afternoon. If you don’t have that sort of time, you can break this project up into smaller chunks.

Session 1
Read The Three Bill Goats Gruff or watch on YouTube. Start brainstorming new characters, settings and conflict.

Session 2
Assign characters and write script. I found it easiest to play secretary and type up lines as the kids said them.

Session 3
Gather costumes, make props and perform play.

Painting PropsAnd you don’t have to do this with a group, you can have your child(ren) do this on their own. Performing a family play can be just as fun as doing one with friends! As a kid, I remember putting on ‘skits’ with my brother for our parents. We had a blast!

One of my favorite things about this activity is it teaches kids that writing is action. You can build entire worlds, stories, relationships through writing. That’s powerful stuff.

Do you have a young writer on your hands? Have her enter the PBS KIDS writing contest.

And stay tuned! In the coming weeks here on PBS Parents, we’ll bring you fun ways to help your child develop his or her writing skills—from hosting a writing club, to creative writing prompts kids will love!

About Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper is the blogger behind Classic-Play.com, an online resource for creative families.  Her favorite past times include: dancing around her living room, watching the Pink Panther with her kids and daydreaming. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, photographer Dave Cooper, and two children. 

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