Show & (Don’t) Tell

June 16, 2016 at 11:39 AM

Your kids are probably familiar with show and tell. It’s pretty easy: bring an object to class, tell the other students what it is, and get clapped at. What’s more difficult is to show and not tell. (This is an activity your whole family can enjoy. If you want to add an extra element of the theatrical to it, check out our DIY Theatre post entitled How To Install a Home Theatre.) First, you’ll need everyone to choose something to show. Instead of an object, you’ll need a talent. Maybe this is playing an instrument, jumping rope, stacking cups, reciting the Declaration of Independence—you choose, but don’t tell anyone before the performance!

Choose someone to show first. The challenge is not to tell anyone what you’re about to do, but just to do it! Play that Bach concerto. Hold your breath for a minute. Play a game of solitaire. Then bow, leave the stage or performance area, and let the next family member show. This is an opportunity for your child to share her talents with you (and for you to share with her!), and it helps kids learn a valuable lesson about how to behave in theatres without the pressure of a trial run at an actual performance.

Before the performance, it’s a good idea to talk about what is expected. “Audience” members need to stay quiet during the performance and hold applause until the end. Stay in one seat during the performance. When you perform, speak clearly and take a bow at the end. Make sure you model good theatre behavior for the kids! As a reward for a job well done, make a special treat to eat during or after the show. This is a great exercise to do if you’re thinking of attending a play and aren’t sure if your child is up to the task. Another great way to judge if your child is ready for the theatre is to see whether he can sit quietly through an entire film. If not, the theatre might be a year or two away, but don’t forget to check out our DIY Theatre series for ways you can bring the theatre to your own home!