Where I teach, Drama is a mandatory part of the curriculum for students in Grades 1 to 8. I enjoy teaching drama, but I have heard from other teachers that they find this subject hard to plan for without a textbook or background experience. The following blog post outlines great drama lessons for your classroom.
Below is a general outline of how to start your year and possible topics you can cover depending on the time you have for this course.
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Why Should Middle School Students Participate in Drama Lessons
At siome point in your career, you might encounter a parent or a student who does not agree with drama lessons. Help them understand the value of the arts through a discussion about the value of drama skills. There are several reasons why middle school students should take drama classes:
- Boost Confidence: Drama classes can boost confidence by allowing students to express themselves in a safe environment, develop presentation skills, and use body language.
- Develop Creativity: Drama classes can also foster creativity by encouraging students to explore different characters, scenarios, and emotions.
- Learn Collaboration: Drama classes teach collaboration skills through group work, and effective communication, and teach students how to take feedback and make improvements.
- Improve Communication: Drama classes improve students’ communication skills by showing them how to express themselves clearly, listen actively, and understand others’ perspectives.
Overall, drama classes can provide students with a fun and engaging way to develop their interpersonal and presentation skills and learn about themselves.
Sample Drama Lessons Year Plan
- Brainstorm as a class how drama skills can be of benefit to other subject areas and in real life.
- Establish classroom rules together to ensure the safety of students.
- Co-create overall success criteria, then add to them for each new unit
- Explicitly teach the Elements of Drama – Role/Character, Focus, Emphasis, Place and Time, Relationship, and Tension.
- Use Ice Breakers to get students more comfortable with drama and create a safe space.
- Use Drama Circles to get all students participating.
- Teach different drama skills through units
Ice Breaker Suggestions
- 2 Truths and a Lie (Students share 2 truths about themselves and 1 lie, then the class must guess which statements are true or false)
- This Is Not A (Have students stand or sit in a circle. Pass around a regular classroom object like a ruler. The starting person says – This is not a ruler, it is a snake and then acts out the snake. The second person takes the object and says This is not a snake, it is a sword and acts out their chosen object. Students need to be creative.)
- I Like My Neighbour Who (One student says I like my neighbour who [insert generic description here e.g., is wearing shoes with laces] then everyone who meets that description has to get up and change seats. It is like musical chairs without music. Switch students who are saying the description each round.)
- Walk Like A (Students have to walk around the room like dinosaurs, lions, cheetahs, etc.)
- Never Have I Ever (Students sit in a circle and keep their 10 fingers visible. Then the person who starts the game says something they have never done but hopes other people in the class have. If you have participated in the activity mentioned, then you must put down 1 of your fingers. Then the next person in the circle gets to say their sentence. Remind students that this needs to be suitable for school.)
- Drama Circles – This activity is an excellent way to start your year as it gives all students a chance to participate. Here is a free drama circle.
Drama Lessons Suggestions
- Drama Scenarios (Co-create scenarios with your students that they need to act out. Arrange students into groups. Give each group a scenario and a limited amount of time to practice acting out their scenario and solution. Then, showcase each scenario to the class. Here are some examples: Scenario 1 – Your group is baking cookies in Foods Class for the school bake sale. You guys are not paying attention and accidentally mix up the salt as sugar. One of you realizes your mistake and wants to tell the teacher. The rest refuse as they do not want to get into trouble. Scenario 2 -You are a happy family [parents and siblings] at the pet store trying to decide what pet to bring home. All of you want something different. Act out this scenario and your solution. Scenario 3 – You are at a friend’s house and your video game remote goes through their new TV.)
- Reader’s Theatre and Possible Reader’s Theatre Scripts
- Novel in an Hour (Divide up a short novel, each group reads a section and creates a skit to present that section to the class.)
- Short Plays – Try Plays Magazine or Drama Notebook
Cross-Curricular Drama Lesson Integration
- Interview an “Expert” from Science or Social Studies (Have students recap their new learning from a unit e.g., Science or Social Studies)
- Character Hot Seat (Have one student be in the hot seat as a character from your reading material, then the rest can ask questions)
- Wax Museum (Students “become” a person from history and are completely still, they can be brought to life and become their person)
- Host a mock parliament to teach Grade 5 Government
- Read Fractured Fairy tales and then act them out
- Act out scenes from a class novel/lit circle
Drama Lessons Resources
- Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators
- Think Literacy Drama and Dance
- Holiday Drama Lesson
- Drama Schemes, Themes & Dreams: How to Plan, Structure, and Assess Classroom Events That Engage Young Adolescent Learners by Larry Swartz and Debbie Nyman
- Dramathemes, 4th edition: Classroom Literacy that Will Excite, Surprise, and Stimulate Learning fourth edition by Larry Swartz – This is a popular book check your school and district’s libraries for older editions.
- More Than a Play by ETFO
- Stages: Creative Ideas for Teaching Drama, Revised 2nd Edition by Talia Pura