Although being Skit Director takes away from my prep time and is not a required activity, I continue to do it every year because of the positive impact it has on kids. Here is my list of six reasons why fifth grade skits are a great addition to your school program:
#1--Overcome the fear of public speaking
Students who participate in the skits have to overcome their fear of public speaking. How many adults do we know that would never get up in front of 500 people and perform a skit? And yet I am asking fifth graders to do just that. The students must focus on clarity, projection, volume and tone. It does not come easily for all of the them, but they begin to understand why those things are important.
#2--Get out of your comfort zone
The skits challenge the students to push the boundaries of their comfort zones. On a normal day, they want to appear older and cool, but during a skit, I am asking them to act silly and loud in front of their peers. They play outrageous characters, create funny costumes and act in ridiculous ways all in the name of teaching the character traits. They learn that playing characters can be fun and the more they commit to their character, the better the skit!
#3--Build new friendships
When a skit is over, there is a sense of comraderie and friendship on a classroom level that usually wasn't there before. The bond (and relief!) that a class feels after they have completed their skit can bring them together for their last few months as elementary school students. They have participated in this shared experience that can build friendships between students that might not have become friends otherwise, and which they will remember for many years.
#4--Inspire a hidden talent
After a skit is over, I encourage the fifth graders to pursue drama in middle school if they enjoyed the process of practicing and performing. I believe that it can be a great benefit to students in their lives if they can feel comfortable speaking in front of others and drama is a great way to hone those speaking skills. Plus, some kids are just plain GOOD! They should definitely keep it up so we can enjoy their performances in the years to come.
#5--Become a positive role model
Fifth graders are the leaders in the school. As the skits are performed, the rest of the student body is watching. They see their older brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends performing and teaching about the character traits, which sets an example for everyone. They show the younger students that this is important which adds to the positive school climate.
#6--Embody the character traits that we teach
Students who perform in these skits are the living proof that character education is important in our daily lives. The students show Respect and Cooperation as they work together to produce the skit. They are Responsible when they learn their lines and remember to bring props. They show Self-Discipline and Perseverance when they come to practices and work hard instead of playing around. These are the qualities that make a person successful and they are learning them at an early age.
This is not to say that doing the skits is EASY! There are some days when I go back to their teacher and say, "I'm worried! We need more time!" During some of the practices, I throw my hands up and shout, "Seriously? Will you please stop talking offstage?" and "Do you even care about this?" (After all, we ARE talking about fifth graders--the crossed arms, eye rolling and bored looks seem to be unique character traits of the pre-teen fifth grader!) Yes, the frustration level can be high!
But it is all worth it. As we nervously wring our hands before the skit begins and I whisper encouragement and last minute reminders in their ears, I have yet to be disappointed. Every time, they pull it off and create a fabulous performance!! As I think back to the shaky first skit rehearsal and then watch the live performance, all I feel is pride at their accomplishment. It was a success! Sign me up for more!!
--If you are interested in starting a fifth grade drama program at your school, please visit the Character Education tab on my website or contact me for more information. Please leave a comment!