• By Amanda Blackburn.

Play in a Box-National Theatre

Do your children like to play pretend games? My son and most of the children in my care love using their imaginations and pretending to be superheroes, animals, unicorns......they are always making up their own little games together. The National Theatre’s Play in a Box is all about using your imagination and putting on a little performance when I was asked to review this I simply couldn’t resist as I knew my little gang of actresses and actors would love this.

When I’m asked to review something I always like to research the item before I agree to review it. After reading other people’s reviews and the description of the Play in a Box it sounded like a great piece of kit.

The Play In a Box comes beautifully presented in a sturdy colourful box designed with vibrant eye-catching pictures The pack’s design is simple: inside, there’s a Stagecraft handbook, 30 Character cards, eight Setting cards and a Plot twist book.

Stagecraft handbook

The Stagecraft handbook is beautifully designed and is full of clear easy to read detailed advice on all aspects of performance. It includes easy to make costume ideas with child-friendly information on how to create scenes, lighting, sound, stage it has everything you need to put on your own show. Not only does it encourage children to be creative but it also covers the three prime areas of learning: personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; and physical development. Along with four specific areas of learning: literacy; mathematics; expressive arts and design; and understanding the world. It’s perfect for schools, nurseries, drama groups and of course Childminders.

Character cards

The 30 Character cards include a wide variety of characters, aliens, unicorns, witches, doctors, pop stars, secret agents and more, a great choice of characters that most children love. Each card is classified as a Friend, Opponent, Stranger or Hero. The front of each card shows a picture of the character along with its name, the back includes a detailed description with ideas of how to act like this character.

Setting cards

Which setting will you choose? The 8 setting cards can help you decide. All 8 cards look full of exciting adventure, vibrant colours with beautiful images and a wonderful description to help children visualise the setting. Would the action take place in the Palace of Wonders, full halls, corridors, precious jewels and gold. Or would the players explore The forest of enchantment, straying off the path to find adventures?

Plot twist book

A play is nothing without a decent storyline. The Plot twist book includes lots of different ideas for the beginning, middle and end of the story. Questions prompted the players into exploring the plot twist and putting their own slant on it.

Inside the box are spare character cards for you to create you own characters. Its also includes a programme and tickets to colour in, they are black and white and if you have a scanner/printer you can copy off extras for when you need them. I’ve done this, just remember to always keep the original for copying.

So what did we think?

We all absolutely love the kit, my children and the children in my care all have the kit a big thumbs up! Judging from the children’s enthusiasm for this kit, I’m sure we will be playing it at least once a week. Children at the younger end of the spectrum need some help with the kit, but it can be used at different levels. My teenage daughter has been getting involved and enjoys playing the role of film director helping put a play together with all the children.

I recommend the kit to anyone, no only budding actors and actresses, all children love to play pretend games and this kit can add more ideas to their imagination. Although the game is recommended for children ages 6 and up I still managed to get the younger children involved and they had so much fun. Maybe the magician can have a pet bunny (the younger children can either dress up in a bunny costume, bunny face mask or simply paint a mask with a headband and cardboard ears) there are so many ways you could include younger children with this.

Play in a Box retails at £12.99 and is available from the National Theatre Bookshop: shop.national Here.

We were sent Play in a Box for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are my own.


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