by Kim Stegall
Teaching effective speech communication skills can seem a daunting task to the home educator who must serve as academic counselor, forensic coach, play director—and audience! The challenge for you is to lead wisely, to encourage thoughtfully, and to evaluate fairly. One primary way in which to meet this challenge is to obtain valuable resources for speech activities.
The activities below are adapted from Performing Literature and Sound Speech from BJU Press. Each set of student and teacher editions is designed to be used as a one-semester course and is intended for grades 9–12. The text provides ideas for speech activities such as the following: sonnet and monologue selections, recommended short stories, readers’ theater scripts, acting scenes, declamation selections, and radio scripts as well as evaluation forms for these and other assignments. While the textbooks were written for a student on the highschool level, the activities can be adapted, in most situations, for a younger child as well. These suggested activities should help you and your teenager get started.
Assist your teen in improvising a Bible narrative. Urge him to focus on making the Bible characters real people with sincere reactions. Allow him to decide whether he will share the story using a great deal of narration from one character or whether he will portray a variety of characters in one scene using dialogue.
Assign your teen a favorite short story to tell to a children’s group. Encourage him to first learn the story by getting a mental picture for each section of the story. Tell him to "play the film clip" to himself while he thinks about the story. That way, if he should ever forget an exact word or phrase, he can play the clip to himself and "see" what comes next.
Assign your teen an occasion, an audience, and a purpose (one from each column above). Then instruct him to select a topic that is appropriate to all three. From this list of ideas, you may choose one activity or a combination of activities as you provide valuable experiences in speech for your teenager.
To help your teen understand the connection between physical and verbal action, instruct him to pantomime the following scenario as realistically as if it were part of a play scene. The only difference between this activity and a play should be the absence of dialogue.
Scenario:You are visiting a friend’s home for the first time. A younger sibling comes to the door and then leaves you in a living room while he calls your friend from another part of the house. You find yourself alone with an exotic pet. Respond to its curiosity about you and your movements.
Have your teen research a Christian hero—a missionary, hymnwriter, preacher, or layperson. Instruct him to decide on a dominant theme or message for the script and how he could convey that message through costumes, set, lighting, and props. Challenge him to develop his story into a one-person show that could be presented to a youth group or Bible club.
Look for occasions when your teen can use his developing interests. As you assist him in his performances, not only will you see an improvement in his communication skills but you’ll also share a lot of fun together, both on and off the stage.
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