What Warm Up Games to Play

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  • Becca Megson

Before each class, it's important to warm up all key muscle groups through a physical warm-up. As you get older and into the professional industry, and depending on the style of theatre you're performing (physical theatre etc.), your warm ups will differ.

However; when you're younger, the warm-ups can be a lot more freeing, and a lot more fun! Kids are rambunctious, hire-wired, the absolute best and LOUD. Very loud indeed. And they need games to play to get them into focus and wear them out slightly, so they'll be too tired to run around and misbehave but not tired enough to fall asleep in your lessons.

I've had the privilege of teaching a wide range of age groups. I had two classes as my time as a teaching assistant beforehand, 4-6 year olds and 7-12 year olds, and I loved them all so much, they were such a lively bunch and always made my week so entertaining.

It was usually my job to warm up my lil' tinkers, and depending on who was in my class, and how old they were, decided what game we'd play that day. Here is the mental list I had made in my time as a TA about all the warm-up games I'd played throughout the years:

For children younger than 7:

  • Games that they are included in, and can lead - an example of this would be the 'Bean Game', a certain kind of bean is linked to a certain action (runner bean = run, jumping bean = jump etc.) which was a personal favorite of mine. Very young kids usually have the attention span identical to the dog from Disney's 'Up' (2009) and can usually get bored/distracted easily if the task isn't interesting. So by including them, whether it be Beans or anything else, they'll be more willing to take part and concentrate on the warm-up at hand.

Children aged 7-15:

  • Games that focus on focusing - an example game I've played before is 'The Opposite Game', where stop = go and go = stop, students walk around the room and follow the instructions given to them. Eventually, more opposites are added to the instructions (such as jump = clap, clap = jump etc.) and the last student to be walking around is the winner. Getting children this age to play these kind of focus games helps them concentrate, having the cogs turn in their mind a little bit quicker and feeling mentally refreshed and ready to start class.

Teens 15-18:

  • Improvisation games - a great way to get young minds in focus, especially in class, is to get their creativity flowing through improv. Being able to quickly think on your feet is a skill that is widely sought after, and when refined can produce some comedy gold, interesting plot twists and an all-around fun experience of watching your students flourish. An example game would be 'Scenarios', placing your students in a certain situation such as a library, shopping center, farmers market - anywhere in the world - and watch what unfolds.

For shy kids:

  • Gradual build-up games - games that start off small and work their way up to the child participating and getting involved. An example of this would be 'Grandmothers Footsteps', where all kids start together besides the one dubbed 'grandmother', and each child will eventually have a turn. Watching other kids go first will make those who are a little bit shy more willing to join in. Throwing them straight into the deep end with no warning will only cause panic and a reluctance to join in on the fun. I was this child, and a slow build-up was a great way to help me feel at ease and in a safe place to play.

Finding the right games to play can be tricky, but being able to read a room and figuring out what each student can do and work with will not only build a stronger and more fun relationship between you and your students, but each game will develop their minds a little bit more each round. Play on!