Seven robots marched around the library at Destin Elementary School last Thursday. The robots then morphed into floppy rag-dolls then very tall giraffes before changing back into their original form of kindergarten to fourth grade children.

The event was Drama Kids International, a weekly after-school program that uses theater to encourage creativity, confidence and critical thinking in children.

“I really, really love drama a lot,” said program director Alissa Clifton when asked what got her interested in the program. “I think it’s the best job ever.”

Clifton actually runs the program in nine Okaloosa County Schools and said each group works on short dramas with the end goal of putting on a performance for the parents.

“We start out each class with creative improvisation exercises, then vocal warm-ups,” she said. “The goal is by the time we do a parent performance the students will be able to welcome them to the program. We will be putting on a mini play for the parents with each student having similar sized parts so that every child can shine.”

At Destin’s program, the kids had fun playing interactive games that kept them thinking on their feet, then made up their own skit using a story prompt before finishing the day with a song.

“We use tools similar to writing prompts they use in school, except with no writing,” said Clifton. “We ask them to identify whether their skit has a defined beginning, middle and end, and the kids are having so much fun they don’t even notice.”