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Add a Little Dramatic Play to Learning
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Drama Workshop

This drama workshop was first presented at York University for teacher-candidates in 2001. It can be used to help with your drama lesson plans.


demonstrate control of voice and movement
by using appropriate techniques(Grade 4)

Physical Warm ups:
                Bouncing:                  - gently on the spot
                                                  - very high/very low
                                                  - like a rubber ball
                                                  - like a very heavy ball
                                                  - in many directions
                 Walking:                   -  in a field of tall weeds
                                                  - on a pile of feathers
                                                  - through puddles
                                                  - on a faraway planet
                                                  - on a hot sidewalk in bare feet
                 Turning:                    -  around on the spot
                                                  - keeping one foot on the ground
                                                   with one hand on the floor
                                                  - with one knee on the floor
                                                  - like a bottle top being opened
                 Twisting:                   - like a milkshake in a blender
                                                  - like leaves falling from trees
                                                  - like a piece of licorice being eaten
                 Crawling:                  -  along top of a narrow, high
                                                      bridge as if collecting ants
                                                  - with heads toward the sky
                                                  - through a tiny, tight doorway

Expectation: demonstrate control of voice and movement by using appropriate techniques                      (Grade 4)

Vocal Warm ups: (repeat 3 times quickly)
Tongue Twisters:        - shining soldiers

                                              -    Ruth’s red roof
                                              -    a proper copper coffee pot
                                              -    three free throws
                                              -    toy boat
                                              -    unique New York
                                              -    black bug’s blood
                 Say your name:    -     in a whisper
                                              -    mysteriously
                                              -    musically
                                              -    as if being scolded
                                              -    as if meeting a long lost friend
                                              -    as if you were a robot
                                              -    as if terrified
                                              -    in order to terrify someone
                 Repeating rhymes: -   in rounds
                                                 - one word per pupil
                                                 - one line per pupil
                                                 - echoing the the teacher or leader
                                                 - whisper to shout and back again
                                                 - slowly to quickly and back again
          e.g. Pease porridge hot                Some like it hot
                Pease porridge cold               Some like it cold
                Pease porridge in the pot      Some like it in the pot
                Nine days old.                        Nine days old.

Expectations: create and present a short choreography in groups
                          (Grade 4)
                          describe and interpret their own and others’ work using                           appropriate drama and dance vocabulary
                          (Grades 4, 6)
                          contribute and work constructively in groups
                          (Grades 4,5,6 Language)


Building a Zoo:      On a signal, pupils work:
                                         alone to make a snake 
                                         with a partner to make a swan
                                         in groups of three to make a tarantula
                                         in groups of four to make a giraffe
                                         in groups of five to make an elephant
Half the class performs while the other half watches and identifies effective combinations of high, low, twists, stretches, etc.

Clay & Sculptor:
                               Pupils work in pairs, A & B. Without speaking, A, the sculptor, shapes B, the clay, into a statue of a fairy tale hero or villain. B must guess the character he or she represents. Then A & B switch roles.
(Alternate strategy: Have one-half the class at a time watch and guess the characters being “sculpted”.)

Group Monster:
                   Call groups of five and have pupils sit in their groups. Students in two or three of the groups stand in a circle and number themselves #1, #2, #3, #4, & #5. Instruct #1’s to go to the centre and form part of a creature. On a signal, #2’s add on to the creature, then #3’s, etc. until the creature is complete. Pupils discuss what they saw and how effective it was. (Three positive statements and one suggestion for improvement!)


Expectation: demonstrate understanding of some of the principles involved in the structuring                      of works of drama and dance (grade 5)

Tell the story of Little Miss Muffet and introduce the following terms:

Little Miss Muffet                                -protagonist (hero)
Sat on a tuffet                                     -setting (where/when)
Eating her curds and whey.                    -action (doing what)
Along came a spider                              -antagonist (opponent)
Who sat down beside her                      -conflict (clash of intentions)
And frightened Miss Muffet away.        -resolution (how it turns out)

Chant the rhyme soft to loud, as a round, to clapping, call and response. Give each student in groups of six a line each. Each student repeats his line as differently and dramatically as possible to suit the part of the story it represents. Conclude by chanting the line, adding a movement and freezing till the rhyme is complete.

          e.g. Little Miss Muffet                            sweetly, brightly
                Sat on a tuffet                                 knowingly, matter-of-factly
               Eating her curds and whey.                slurpily, daintily
                Along came a spider                          ominously, hushed
               Who sat down beside her                   shocked, horrified
               And frightened Miss Muffet away.     emphatically, sympathetically

A tableau is formed when each group has frozen into place.
Taking snapshots is often an effective technique and makes a good display as well.

Expectation: ask and answer questions on a variety of topics to acquire and clarify                               information (Grades 5&6 Language)

Discussion: Discuss the facts you know from the first four lines of the rhyme. Encourage pupils to offer hypotheses of what happened to Miss Muffet. (e.g. Maybe she ran away because...)

Questioning: If Miss Muffet were to come to this room, what questions would you like to pose to her? Discuss with your neighbours, then share with us. Teacher or students in groups record their questions on a common chart and present to the class as a whole. e.g. What is curds and whey?
               When did this happen?
               Do you always eat by yourself in the woods?
               What is a tuffet?
               Have you been to this tuffet before?
               Were there any witnesses?
               What did the spider look like?
               What kind of spider was it?
               Where did you go after you were frightened?
               To whom did you tell your story afterwards?

Interviewing: Ask pupils to think about who, besides Miss Muffet and the spider would be able to answer these questions. Suggest characters to get them started and settle on a list. (e.g. Miss Muffet’s mother, the spider’s mother, best friend, teacher, a doctor, a nearby bird, forest ranger, Little Bo Peep etc.) Pupils choose a role. Ask WHAT AUDIENCE would be interested in the characters’ answers (e. g. police detectives, family, reporters). Give 6 volunteers witness roles and, after giving time to prepare, have the class as each particular audience (police) question the witnesses in role.

Expectation: demonstrate awareness of audience when writing in role (Grade 5)

Further Interviewing and Storytelling in Role: Build a narrative from the interviews. Discuss any new information that has been added (e.g. Miss M. is an only child, was alone in the woods. The spider was big as a fist and had been weaving a web etc.) Ask some pupils to be the spider and the rest work in small groups to interview the spider who must tell the story from his/her point of view.

   Reflecting (Presenting Images): Create tableau images to tell the story. Images should represent photographs that show the guilt or innocence of the spider/Miss Muffet.
       • image from her past to explain her fear of spiders
       • image showing how she was frightened by the spider
       • image to show where she went after she was frightened
       • image that shows the spider’s point of view
       • image showing what will happen next time she sits on her tuffet
Present the images chronologically. Have students discuss what they saw and decide whether their questions were answered.

   Meeting to Solve a Problem: As a group, discuss why a spider might frighten someone. The teacher in role plays the spider’s mother/father and asks friends and relatives what to do about her son’s bullying. Repeat as Miss Muffet’s mother/father.

   Writing Tasks:
       • add a second verse to continue the story
       • write a letter of advice to Miss M. or the spider
       • write a newspaper article covering the event
       • compose a diary entry by the spider/Miss M.
       • write a story explaining why she is always frightened
       • prepare a report about spiders to help Miss M. understand spiders

Download pdf version of Drama Workshop