One of the things that kids enjoy doing (and grownups, too, when we will admit it), is dressing up like someone or something else. Role playing can be a lot of fun, but it can teach a lot, too (shh.. don’t tell the kids that part.)
If you’re looking for some entertainment that doesn’t involve yet another night of watching kids’ movies, why not give your kids the chance to put on their own play? (You can help, if you like!)
Help them choose a historic or cultural topic that interests all, or at least most, of you and go looking for suitable dress up clothes.
If you’ve read a book or seen a movie about pioneering for instance, dig into the closets for dresses that would be long dresses on the girls. Give the boys shirts with sleeves rolled up and suspenders made from…? Elastic, strips of cloth or whatever you have.
Pin them on. Make a pretend fireplace by hanging a bright cloth over a bookcase. Give them the basics of a story and let them improvise. You’ll be surprised at how creative your kids can be and they will have a blast.
You can direct them to keep them on track and in the right century. Ask questions about how they think this person would have responded or how that person would have felt. Let the story tell itself.
If you’re not quite brave enough to allow that kind of freedom, get a book from the library or look up children’s plays on the internet. You don’t have to follow the play exactly, with each actor memorizing lines.
That might seem too much like work or school. Just follow the general story line, reading it through first so the kids know what it’s about. You can prompt them from time to time to keep them on track and help inspire them.
Or you could let the kids write their own play, if they’re old enough to write. If not, let them imagine it and you write it down. Always give plenty of room for interpretation or change of mind.
Kids know how to play act, but sometimes, in our eagerness to give them a good life, we override that natural ability. If you give them a little room to improvise, both you and your kids might be very happily surprised at what happens.