Develop the children’s drama and spoken language skills by getting them to rehearse and then perform a version of the nativity story for parents and guardians at Christmas. The rehearsal and performance can allow the children to practise and develop their presentation skills using oral language and music.
You can use different techniques and layers of organisation to allow all children in the class to participate in the performance at their own level so that they develop their self-confidence when performing to an audience. A nativity play can bring the school community together by getting the audience to join in with all of the songs during the performance to support the children as they develop skills in new curriculum areas. The play can help the children understand the religious significance of the nativity story at Christmas as part of the history of Christianity. They can investigate central characters and locations to retell the story for an audience by first using role-play to learn the sequence of the story events before working together to compile each event into a performance scene.
Role-play and Drama
As preparation for a performance of the nativity story, you can get the class to use role-play and drama within an English or Religious Education lesson to learn the sequence of events. You can divide the nativity story into a number of short scenes. Spend time telling the children about the characters, location and event connected to each scene such as Mary being told about the birth of Jesus in a garden by the Angel Gabriel. Allow groups of children to perform their role-plays so that you can select some of the language used to tell the story in the actual performance. Encourage the class to think about how they might move about on a stage when performing to an audience. Place some chairs or cones at the front of the classroom which the children can use as a temporary stage when performing their role-plays.
When the class are developing their role-plays for different scenes in the nativity play they can select extra characters who might feature in each part of the story. For example, in the section of the story where Mary meets the angel Gabriel the children can suggest what additional characters might say and do in the scene such a gardener or some extra angels. When the class begin to compile and rehearse their nativity story you can add the suggested extra characters so that there are multiple speaking parts in the performance. For example, when Joseph and Mary are looking for somewhere to stay in Bethlehem there can be additional innkeepers who can refuse entry or when the Three Wise Men visit Jesus in the stable then they can be accompanied by a number of servants to carry the special gifts.
Support the children’s rehearsal of a nativity play by splitting the story into a number of scenes which can then be rehearsed in sequence to help the class remember their lines and actions. You can begin each rehearsal from the start of the story before proceeding to rehearse the following scenes. Encourage the class to suggest their own ideas for actions and movements to tell the story of each scene which will help the children remember their roles in the play. Use an Interactive whiteboard to keep a record of the children’s ideas for lines and actions as they begin rehearsals which can then be used as a script for the nativity play.
You can minimise any hassles involved with the production of a nativity play by employing some simple techniques to show each section of the performance. You can display some large boxes at the back of the performance area. The children can then paint objects and pictures in each side of the boxes which can then be rotated during the play to show each part of the story. For example, one side of the box can show trees and leaves for the garden where Mary meets the angel Gabriel and for the shepherds on the hill. A second side can be painted with timbers and straw to represent the inside of the stable. A third side can be painted with stars to show the journey to Bethlehem by Joseph and Mary and the arrival of the three kings. The fourth side of the boxes can be painted with Christmas shapes to display at the end of the performance as the class sing some final Christmas songs as a finale. You can then select some other children to bring on scenery objects for different parts of the story such as a fire for the shepherds to sit around or a manager for scenes inside the stable.
Use some traditional Christmas Carols to signify the start and end of different scenes in the nativity story. This will provide some time to change the scenery boxes and add any scene objects whilst the class are singing each Carol. You can display the words for each song on an Interactive Whiteboard in front of the performance area to help the class learn the lyrics for each Carol. Choose some modern Christmas songs for the class to sing along with the audience as a finale to the performance.
You can develop the children’s performance skills by getting some of the class to learn and recite their lines as a group as opposed to individually. This will help the children develop their confidence in speaking to an audience by allowing them to speak in unison with others. You can also get the class to develop the volume of their speaking voices by placing some teddy bears at the back of performance area to act as a temporary audience which the children can project to with their voices as they perform different lines from the play.