Catholic Activity: Dramatics at Home for Elementary Children
"One of the very best ways to learn religion is to act it. " Here are some suggestions on how to make little home plays in order to reinforce the feasts and religion instructions.
One of the very best ways to learn religion is to act it. Little plays made up at home are useful in teaching some facts of religion. (Incidentally they give training in speech and help to cure self-consciousness.) As a matter of fact no Catholic home is complete without its religious theatricals. For January have the children act the story of the Three Wise Men. Trust them to make up plenty of conversation. The Infant Jesus may be represented by a doll. If the children are old enough they will take great pride in writing out the parts for the different characters. If the family is too small, join with one or two other families.
Rehearsing plays is an excellent way of doing things in groups at home. The Church of the Middle Ages taught the people by mystery plays, — plays about the life of Christ often acted out in the back of the church or in the church yard. On February 2nd have a little play or a tableau (for children six to ten) of the Purification. Forty days after the birth of Jesus, our Lady takes the Divine Baby to the Temple. Read the story in the New Testament, St. Luke's Gospel, Chapter 2, verses 22 to 40. Also read from the Missal the blessing of the candles; and let the children make up a play in which someone says that the candles are a symbol of "Jesus, the Light of the World." The speeches of Simeon and Anna should be memorized exactly. Finish with a tableau.
One of the best ways to gain a clear, vital grasp of the truths of religion, is to act out plays on religious subjects. In the Middle Ages plays called Miracle Plays or Mystery Plays, used to be given in the great cathedrals, in order to commemorate a particular feast.
During Lent, let the children select scenes from the Passion and act them. It is often better to have sacred scenes acted without words as it is sometimes difficult to find words sufficiently reverent.
On the feast of the Assumption, August 15th, a holyday of obligation, we should certainly have a celebration of some kind. A play arranged and acted by the children would be splendid; but as it is not easy to act a mystery like the Assumption, we suggest that the children make up a play about our Lady's life after the death of her Son. The Apostles, Veronica with her veil and Joseph of Arimathea with the winding sheet could all be characters.
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonica Byles, Paulist Press, 1938