Seasons and Weather
I use this lesson with my first-graders when they are studying Weather. It is a way to physicalize some of the ideas they are learning about. But it also makes a strong improvisation game for older students, so I use it--with, naturally, some changes in sophistication--with my adolescent acting students.
First Step: Thinking about it.
I begin by asking the students to think about the four seasons.
What are some of the activities you do most in each season? (Going to school, playing football, raking leaves, etc. in the Fall; swimming, going to camp, watching television, etc., in Summer; playing Little League, planting a garden, etc., in Spring; shoveling, skiing, playing hockey, etc., in Winter.)
What kinds of weather do we tend to have in each season? (Sunshine, thunderstorms, heat in Summer, fog, hurricanes, cool in Fall, snow, sleet, icy winds in Winter, friendly rain, warm in Spring.)
Second Step: Acting it out.
Next I ask the students to imagine if is Fall (for instance). Think of an essentially Fall activity and begin to act it out. When I call out, "weather!" some kind of typical Fall weather will take place. Each student chooses for herself or himself which kind of weather happens. When I call out, "weather!" everyone must react appropriately to whatever weather they are imagining.
We repeat this with each season. Sometimes I'll call out "weather!" several times for each season.
In my side-coaching I put a lot of stress on the senses. What does the weather sound like? Feel like? Does it have a smell? A taste? What do you see?
As a variation, particularly when I'm working with older students and my primary goal is improvisation training rather than learning about the weather, I will call out a particular kind of weather, to which the students must instantly react. This ensures that the weather is unexpected, and the response to it unplanned.
Both my first graders and my Middle Schoolers enjoy this game immensely.