Dramatic Play Games from Mrs. Samara

Each week, the 3 and 5-day classrooms enjoy the benefits of Dramatic Play with our wonderful teacher, Mrs. Samara. Here are some of the latest acting and improv games we’ve been exploring in class–we hope you will try them at home!

Mime encourages confidence and awareness of self and of others. It encourages physical control, simplicity of thought and movement, and more importantly it stimulates the imagination.

Sub aims:

To introduce relaxation exercises and understand their role in a drama class.
To promote group work and co-operation.

Relaxation exercises

Be a star: Lie sown on your back and spread your arms, palms up to the side and open your legs. Stretch the limbs all together. Feel you are making a four pointed star. Suddenly the star collapses. Feel the tension disappear.

Be Hercules: In the same position, imagine that the body is being pushed down by a heavy weight so that all parts of the body are being pressed into the ground suddenly the weight is removed. Feel yourself float on the ground.

Shake off the ants: In the same position, imagine you are tied to the ground but you can wiggle. A colony of ants finds and begins to crawl over you. Commence to wiggle the body until the last ant leaves you. Then collapse.

Be a rubber puppet: Imagine you are made of rubber and there are strings attached to your shoulders which someone can pull from above. You are being pulled up and you find your limbs fly out in all directions. Even the feet can be pulled off the ground at times, finally the strings are cut and the body relaxes.


All the students sit in a large circle. The teacher asks them to imagine there is a magic box in the center of the circle. The teacher can ask: what size is it? What color is it? Ask, Can everyone see it?

Tell them it can be a different shape and color, depending on where you are sitting in the circle..this is because it is a magic box. The teacher goes into the center of the circle first and mimes opening the box and taking out an object. She then mimes holding the object and the class must guess what it is. When the children guess correctly the teacher mimes putting it back in the box and closing it. The child who guessed correctly takes a turn at taking an object out of the box.


This is a follow on from the Magic Box game. The teacher mimes taking an object out of the box, for example a mouse, a rotten egg, a cream pie, chewing gum, lipstick or a puppy, and the children guess what it is. When they have guessed she passes the object around the circle. The children should react as if they were holding the actual object in their hands. Eventually the last child in the circle gets rid of the object and the teacher goes to the box and takes out a new.


Get the students consider the ways that people walk. The teacher gets the children to walk around the room. Then call out different ways of walking

Walk like a…

• Toddler

• child in high heels

• child wearing heavy wellington boots

• child splashing in a puddles

• child stuck in mud

• child walking on stony beach

• child walking on hot sand

• someone walking on fire

• someone walking wearily

• an old frail person


Divide the class into 2 or 3 groups. Have at least 6 in each group. Number the students from one to six. Get each member of the group to leave the room except for number one. The other groups stay in the room. You then give number one an action to mime. You then call number 2 into the room and number one mimes to number 2. They do not talk. Number 2 can not say anything and she has to do mime exactly what she saw to number 3, then number 3 comes into the room and watches number 2 very carefully. Number 3 does the mime for number four and so on. When number 6 comes into the room she has to guess what the original mime was. This is like broken telephone but it is done through mime. Here are some suggestions for mimes:

• Riding a horse

• Skiing

• Washing dishes

• Eating hot food

• Counting money

• Telling someone you love them

• Eating spaghetti

• Singing

• Playing tug of war

• Washing your dog

• Ballet dancing

• Moon walk

• Playing basketball

• Singing opera

• Walking in the desert

• Playing tennis

• Making pancakes

• Opening a present that you do not like

The other groups watch how the mime changes with each person. This is a fun game and helps with observation skills.

Basic Situation: Divide the class into small groups and they must use body language and facial expression to 5 ways of showing that their are

• Cold

• Hot

• Surprised

• Frightened

Other ideas/themes for group mimes: Camping, the circus, a pirate ship, going on a bear hunt

Starting to use mime in a Drama sessions

Start beginner groups on occupational mimes and later move to emotional mimes. Mime starts within and is then portrayed by the body. Never forget that through mime is that art of movement it is also the art of stillness.

Occupational Mimes: lift a bucket, box, brush. Place the same objects on a shelf or table, place them, carefully on top of each other. Use scissors, shears, pickaxes, fishing rod. Use activities such as sewing buttons, cooking, putting on clothes, painting, cleaning windows.

Character Mimes: Portray different types of character, the young girl, the old woman, the rich lady, beggar, clown. Watch people around you.

Emotional Mimes: These are the hardest to portray. Feel, understand, convey happiness at receiving a gift. Sadness at hearing bad news, shock, horror, love etc..,


Place a chair in the center of the circle and participants take turns to mime what they imagine it to be, for example: a post box, a kitchen sink, a dog, a new car.

The person who guesses correctly takes their place in the middle.

Take over

• in a circle, walking on the spot

• leader makes a gesture, in time, that the everyone else imitates

• continue for 8 beats or so, then shout the name of a participant and they must change or add to the action

• this can continue until the group has warmed up


All sit in a circle. Give everyone an occupation (e.g. policeman, astronaut, postman, teacher). Use each occupation twice, and make sure the occupations are kept secret.

Students use the space to mime their own occupation. Their task is to spot the person with the same occupation as them. When they have done this they should approach their partner, and without speaking, check that they are both miming the same job.

They should sit down in their pair when they think they have found them.

The game continues until everybody is sitting down. The teacher should check they are all correct at the end of the game!


This game was originally named Change 3 Things, but I simplified it for my preschoolers to just 1 thing. They absolutely love playing this game and it will absolutely get giggles out them. Divide your students up into two lines of equal number facing each other. The persons directly across from each other are partners. They quietly study each other closely for one full minute. One line turns around and hides their eyes. The other line changes one thing about their appearance. They may take off one shoe or un-tuck their shirt or roll up a pant leg. After all have changed one thing the other line turns around and guesses what they changed. This game is all about being observant. After the changed item has been identified, the lines switch parts and continue to play. This is fun to do as duos with the rest of the students as the audience too!

Pair students up and tell them to pick an A and B.
Tell A’s that they are looking in the mirror. (Optional: Tell them it is morning and they are getting ready for the day.)
Tell them to move VERY slowly. B’s are the mirror and must follow A so closely that an observer would not be able to tell who is leading and who is following. Encourage them to mirror not only body movement but also facial expression.
Have them switch after a minute or so. Then tell them that neither is the leader or follower. You will probably have tell them to go slower a few times.
Start again with A’s but this time tell them that they are talking to themselves in the mirror as B’s follow. Again let them switch and then try it with no leader and no follower.

Purpose: A simple way to get even the most shy child acting bold in front of the group.
1. Players stand in a circle.
2. One player starts a small gesture.
3. The next player takes it over and makes it even bigger.
4. This continues all the way around until the last person takes it to the EXTREME.
5. After a couple times with just movement, tell the players they can add a sound as well.
– Encourage the kids to never lose a sense of the original gesture in their exaggerations.
– This can be a great lead in to character development, taking small traits and enhancing them to extremes.

Ode to Seuss

Opposites, syllables, playful language, metaphor…Seuss continues to delight us just as much as when we were small.

Wacky Wednesday was so much fun we did it more than once, ensuring that all classrooms had a chance to try on “wacky” for a day…the Ministry of Silly Walks was explored, lunch was eaten UNDER the tables, shoes and slippers climbed the walls, and children painted pictures with their feet!

Oh, what fun we had! We still ask regularly, “Do you like my hat?” and then segue into the “bit” from Go, Dog. Go!

Many more than ten books were read, bookmarks are headed home this week featuring your child “wearing” the reading hat. The Truffula Tree forest was sent home in pieces with the 5-day class, and Who-ville on the dust mote is being turned into a “traveling take-home book.”

Thanks for a fun-filled, wacky and educational month!

Book Drive and Tertulia #4

Used book drive at Cortland–baby books to 8th grade classics, books benefit Ms. Raven’s current school, DeWitt Clinton Elementary. Ends April 14!



…Friday, March 28, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Meet at Cortland and we will walk over to Multilingual Connections (2 blocks away) for a night of food, fun, and conversation in their facility. All are welcome!

Please bring a nut-free dish to share with all and your willingness to participate in Spanish conversation–beverages provided. RSVP to Señora Kate BEFORE March 24
Multilingual Kids LOGO

Mrs. Samara has asked us to share info about a very special concert…please consider attending this fun and worthy event!



Thanks to all that attended our second official Tertulia night! Students prepared the classroom, adults prepared the delicious food…we even managed to practice our Spanish as we talked, laughed, snuggled babies, and ate! Muchas Gracias to our maestra maravillosa, Senora Kate, for her planning and wonderful rendition of “Los Tres Chivitos Gruff!” Next Tertulia will be in February–stay tuned for info.




Humboldt Park is so beautiful right now…the playground at Evergreen and California is wonderful for gross motor development, hand strength, and balance. Children teach one another how to do new things, such as climb, slide, leap, and even play a hidden instrument. The Boathouse has clean public restrooms and a security guard, and the meander across the bridge and down into the pond / native planting areas allow for feeding wild birds. Be sure to stop at the wooded playlot as well–a whole different experience, though you’ll need to mind the tenacious, food-crazed squirrels!
Our Parents READ! Four fun science recipes long-promised to Lindsay B…xo

science_recipe1SLIME (great way to see if two liquids can combine to form a solid):


Brew #1: In a large bowl, mix 2 Tbs. 20 Mule Team Borax (laundry booster sold at most large grocery stores) with 1 cup hot to warm water. Pass around the table having children do 1-2-3-stirs and pass it on! Use a long handled spoon so that they do not drop it in the bowl each time.

Brew #2: In separate large dish, mix 1 cup Elmers Glue with 1 drop of green food coloring and ½ cup hot to warm water. Pass around the table having children do 1-2-3-stirs and pass it on! Use a long handled spoon so that they do not drop it in the bowl each time.

Pour Brew #1 into Brew #2—do not stir. Gently slosh side to side for 30 seconds. (I have the kids tap their fingers on the bowl and say magic words like “sham-a-lam-a-ding-dong!”)

Reach into the bowl and pull upward dramatically! Ta-da! Slime! Tear off small chunks to share with all. Knead out excess water & it becomes like silly putty! You can stretch it, roll it, bounce it, etc. Two liquids create a polymer that forms a solid. States of matter, oh yeah!

(when a solid and a liquid react):
Get two small cups and a plate or shallow bowl. Have children identify what kinds of things are liquids and what kinds of things are solids. Have them identify the items in their cups using the same vocabulary.

In cup 1, pour a small amount of vinegar (about an inch or two), squirt in some liquid dish soap, and one drop of food coloring. Swirl gently to mix. Model this to students and let each do their own.

In cup 2, put two teaspoons of baking soda. Set cup 2 on the plate or bowl—this will get messy. Have students hold up Cup 1 and make a magical “toast”—1-2-3-POUR CUP ONE INTO CUP TWO (or liquid into solid)…

Students delight as they watch the foam magically appear! Smaller cups work better because then the foam can cascade over the edge and down the sides. They can feel the foam and comment on what they see, smell, and feel. I usually have them play with this for a few minutes, and then we all make a “giant” potion by pouring our liquid into one big clean-up bowl.

Best Papier Mache

1 cup white flour
1 ½ cup warm water
mix it

½ TABLEspoon salt
mix it

¼ cup white glue
mix it

Have children tear strips of newspaper, and then go to town making your creations—a balloon filled with air can dry and become a dinosaur egg, hot air balloon, or caterpillar segment—not to mention planets, spheres, and heads for rod puppets! (Yes, we’ve actually done all of these.)

Have children sturdily glue and / or masking tape boxes and paper sculptures. Use papier mache to create masks or animals, robots, or “inventions!”

Bubble Print Painting
(note: bubbles can be whisked in a large tub by students or blown with a straw by an adult only—children will drink it otherwise, yuck)

3 cups warm water
1 cup liquid dishsoap
½ cup of tempera paint

(3-1-.5 ratio)

mix all items together, dump into a large, 4-6 inch deep dub (like a dishtub), let children whisk up bubbles, then gently lay paper on top to pop them and create “prints”…very cool effect, visual and fun. Adults may opt to blow bubbles into the solution with a straw and then let children be the “poppers”, but do not let children do the straw part.
Developing Dramatic Arts Appreciation at Home by Samara Harris Anderson
–look for opportunities to use everyday items as transformations…a giant box can be a really great catalyst for dramatic play and discussion…art supplies to decorate, finding sound effects or making them during your play, and letting your child lead you on his or her adventure helps develop awareness of and appreciation for theatre arts

–jukebox…play a wide variety of music for 30 seconds to one minute and ask your child to dance how the music makes him or her feel. You can also say FREEZE and tell your child to freeze like a different object or animal or person, for example, FREEZE LIKE AN ICE CREAM CONE! FREEZE LIKE A NINJA! FREEZE LIKE AN ICE SKATER! etc. Take turns being the “dancer” and the “freezer”—they love this! Consider making shapes and letters with your body as well, even if they don’t come out perfect…and add high and low levels…FREEZE LIKE A CIRCLE ON THE FLOOR! FREEZE LIKE A TALL LETTER T IN THE AIR!

–play charades…tried and true game, you don’t need cards but you can work with your child to make your own if you want…keep it simple, with basic activities such as brushing your teeth, putting on your shoes, washing your hands, petting an animal, holding a baby, painting a picture, etc.

–go to an age-appropriate play or musical. Talk about the “rules” of being in the audience and the special and important role the audience plays. Chicago has some amazing children’s theatre—get out there and have fun watching and participating! Prepare your child by discussing lights, costumes, what characters you might see and how they might act, what kind of sounds and music there might be, noticing the sets and the staging, and if you feel comfortable, talk about the roles of people backstage like the director, stage manager, house manager, etc.
North Park Village Nature Center by Elizabeth Salahuddin

Looking for something new to do, in the city, with your little nature enthusiasts? We recently discovered The North Park Village Nature Center and wanted to tell you more about it.
A short drive from Logan Square, located at 5801 N. Pulaski, the nature center includes a forty-six acre nature preserve and educational facility. The center is very rustic, currently showcasing a live caterpillar metamorphosis display, a table of animal fossils that the kids can touch and feel, an information and clippings area about the various habitats and some really pretty birds nests. Pick up a trail guide or ask one of the friendly volunteers to show you around and how to get out to the trails.
We followed the ‘main loop’ and saw: spiders (big ones!), butterflies, a fuzzy brown-and-black caterpillar, and lots of birds–no deer along the trail the day we visited, but we did see one roaming around the parking lot!

We spent about 90 minutes at the center and on the trail before it was time to head home. There is a ton to see and do, the kids loved it and for mom/dad/care giver, it’s the kind of place where the kids can really run and do their own thing without much worry.
For your visit:

* Wear supportive, comfortable walking shoes, preferably with socks. The gravel trails are dusty and some trails are mulch or in some cases, mud. Also, lots of tree logs along the path to climb on.
* Pack bug protection, sun screen and a hat.
* Bring a picnic or snacks. There are plenty of picnic tables outside.
* The public restrooms inside the center are neat and tidy and also have a changing table.
The center is open year round from 10 am – 4 pm daily. It also offers mostly free classes for the kids or as a family. A class description sheet is located inside the education facility.

If you haven’t already, we hope you have a chance to check out this hidden gem so close to home!

GRASP Group Follow Up

I made this little collage because I was thinking about the feedback from the GRASP Group Parent Seminar…and the Wizard of Oz.

You know how it starts out in black and white, and that seems pretty nice and everything’s going along well enough…but then Dorothy lands in Oz and she opens the door of the farmhouse and looks out onto the world…in color? Rich, dazzling, resplendent color?! And you think, my goodness, I had no idea life could be so colorful and fun, so saturated and varied! How was I living before this?!!

GRASP Group was a lot like that.

GRASP Group brought the world of color to our preschool community, and we all took away fantastic, practical tips to try at home (and even in the classroom.)

A few of our favorites?

–don’t forget at least a ten-second wait time after issuing your first request
–engage your child’s imagination and make even the “mundane” about play
–short, direct sentences get better results
–create a quiet space with your child where he or she can go to calm down, not a time out space, just a little zen area to read a book or snuggle a stuffed animal. It gives you another choice when your child needs some boundaries–and it gives your child a safe, calm place to get it together again.

We cannot thank Sara and Alison enough for their fun, warm, candid suggestions. We hope you will check out the good work they are doing by clicking here, and that you will join us in late summer for our next parenting seminar. Have topics you’d like to suggest? Please comment below.

Also, a very special thank you to Neal Bader and the Menomonee Club for Boys and Girls for hosting our event. Our room was perfect!

(Thanks also to Mrs. Samara for getting this up and running, we love you!)

director@cortlandpreschool glitch…

The season of IT frustration seems to be upon us, first with the edublog photo glitch and now with an email forwarding issue through director@cortlandpreschool.com

Through the IT grapevine, I have heard that the past two months have been dicey for IT folks as they keep all manner of nasty things away from our smoothly-running, “no need to pay attention to the man behind the curtain” world. While I dislike the inconvenience and I certainly shudder to think of the emails I may have missed in the past 2 to 3 weeks, I know that our blog provider (edublogs) and ISP (1and1) work hard to keep our information safe.

If you have sent an email to director@cortlandpreschool with no respone in the month of February, please pardon the glitch and send it again. I always try to reply within 48 hours.

(Note: to be certain this doesn’t happen again, I’ll be doing a daily test to verify all email is forwarding and flowing the way it is supposed to from the magical ether-land of 0’s and 1’s. Thank you for your patience, good humor, and understanding.)

Winter Slump

Is your child having a difficult time getting excited to go to school?
Is he or she showing old behaviors that you thought had been extinguished?

We can say with 15 years of teaching experience that winter is truly the hardest season for parents and students. Students have new toys at home, home is warm and cozy, school has become a routine and the “honeymoon phase” has ended. Morning rituals are taking longer than usual, parents are tired and sick, kids are tired and sick, etc. Winters are hard.

Children, like all living creatures, have cycles of growth and development seasonally. Your child may be demonstrating behaviors that seem regressive as he or she quietly builds a new skill set or begins a growth spurt. Very normal stuff.

To hopefully help you build a bit of anticipation in your child, and ward off the worst of “winter slump”, we recommend the following:

1. Create a picture calendar that walks your child through his or her week. This gives your child a greater sense of stability and control. Have your child help you make this simple calendar and talk about the different activities of the week.

2. School and play are the work of the child. While “having fun” is a part of school, so is learning. Talk with your child about what he or she might want to contribute to the daily Meeting conversation–what are his or her learning interests? How can we explore and expand those interests in the classroom as a group? If your child lacks words, write a small note and send it along to be shared in class.

3. Make sure your child is eating and sleeping as regularly as possible. Adjust the light in his or her room to work with the seasonal light changes. Remind your child that their new toys will be waiting for them just as they left them when they return home–and talk with him or her about who they love to be with at school, what they love to think about or interact with, and what they want to say first thing to their teachers upon arrival.

Thank you for your help and support in these areas. Let’s all plan to work together to make seasonal changes a little more smooth–and a lot less slumpy!

Barefoot Books A Hit!

Thank you to all for attending our first Barefoot Book Fair! We will absolutely do this again in the spring, but in the meantime, if you still want to place an order, please contact Sara Bosaw through her link here: Barefoot Books

We truly appreciate the wonderful time spent reading, learning and exploring with you, your children, and some GREAT books! Thanks again to Sara Bosaw!