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Using Plays to Teach Science

Can you combine drama and science? Yes, and you can be sure that it is fun. Of course, these days it's only a short step from a science project to YouTube fame. Gather some friends and relatives and have a blast!

Tips on how to create a science play:

1. Use simple props to act out a process. See how the students in this video act out how a hailstorm forms. I particularly enjoyed the falling clouds. 🙂

A few other examples:
Metamorphosis - have children pretend to be a molting insect. Put a shirt on backwards (the exoskeleton generally splits down the back) over the street clothes, and then have the child wiggle free. No hands though, because insects can't use their hands to free themselves.

Chemical reactions of photosynthesis- using tennis balls to represent electrons being passed.

Movement of water through different types of soil -
Tie a bit of blue cloth to one child volunteer, who will represent the water. The rest of children (or children and adults) can be soil particles. First have the soil particles hold out their arms out straight to the sides and form a loose cluster. They are now big sand grains taking up big space. Let the water child try to move through. It should be easy. Then have the soil particles put their hands on their hips and move closer together. Now they are middle-sized silt particles. The water child should still be able to move through, but it will be more difficult. Finally, have the children put their arms tight to their sides and pack together. They are now clay particles. The water child will have a lot of trouble getting through now. If she or he does manage to get in, point out that it is hard to get out again too. Clay holds water tightly once it gets in, sand lets water move through easily.

The water cycle- have people and props to represent rain, clouds, evaporation, condensation, etc.

2. Write a play based on a folktale. Folktales contain a lot of wisdom about how the natural world works. Feel free to embellish and add characters, as needed.

Aesop's Fables has an extensive list of fables online, for example, the Ant and the Chrysalis

3. Research the life of a scientist and develop a play about significant events in his or her life. Act out the play with friends.

If you need help getting started, Hands-On Nature: Information and Activities for Exploring the Environment with Children by Jenepher Lingelbach (Editor), Lisa Purcell (Editor), and Susan Sawyer (Contributor) has some simple plays that could be done as puppet shows as well.

25 Science Plays for Emergent Readers: Delightful, Reproducible Plays with Extension Activities That Build Literacy and Invite Kids to Explore Favorite Science Topics (Grades K-1) by Sheryl Ann Crawford and Nancy I. Sanders.

You may want to practice a few times and then either make a video, or invite an audience to watch. Just make sure everyone agrees that is what they want to do.

Or spend a few minutes improvising and see what happens.

Be sure to send me a link to your videos!

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