Pantomime activities provide youngsters with the opportunity to engage in dramatic play without using words. Children also learn about body language and the messages they send to others through behavior by pantomiming. Start with simple activities that require kids to work in pairs or groups, progressing to more complex and solo pantomimes. Pantomime play can also help preschoolers develop social skills, especially how to participate as part of a group or team.
Lead your youngster through some whole-body warm-up activities to help her get the hang of pantomime. The “Mirror” exercise is a classic pantomime exercise. Stand facing your child and ask her to copy the movements you make, as if she were your reflection in a mirror. Start simply, moving one hand or turning your head from side to side. Once your child gets the hang of it, let her take the lead. You and your youngster can also create “sculptures” by molding the shape of one another's bodies. Bend her arms and legs to suggest activities such as running, hopping and pointing, allowing her to do the same by sculpting your arms and legs.
Gather a group of your child’s playmates for an afternoon of circle pantomime games. Begin by playing “Pass the Feeling.” One player pantomimes a recognizable facial expression, such as happiness, sadness or anger. He sends the expression to his right and each successive player passes the facial expression along. Once the expression has gone around the whole circle, compare the first and last players to see if the expression changed as it circulated. Teach the group to pass other pantomimes around the circle -- an imaginary ball that can change size and weight or a shaking arm or leg that can increase or diminish in speed as it travels around the circle, for instance.
Charades is a classic pantomime game that should be simplified for kids who're just learning to play. Gather a group of youngsters and have them pantomime simple activities, such as mowing the grass or sweeping the floor. Once they have the hang of it, secretly suggest further pantomimes to individual participants -- a crying baby or a chef in a kitchen, for example -- letting them act out your suggestion while the others guess who they are and what they are doing. A correct answer wins that participant the opportunity to be the next one to pantomime.
Whole Group Pantomimes
Your child and her pals can strengthen their abilities to cooperate together by participating in group pantomime activities. Choose a few pieces of music that vary in mood and style. Play each piece of music, asking the children to pantomime an animal the music inspires. Once all the children have established their animals, ask them to interact with each other, without touching. Change the musical selection, asking the youngsters to use the music as inspiration for selecting a new animal for interacting. Once the kids have the hang of working together, ask them to create a group scene. Suggest that they pantomime shoppers in a grocery store or kindergarteners on the first day of school.