Teaching Drama: Focus, Freeze and Think

From watching this clip I have come up with an activity with a WALT: explore what and why we ‘see’ and 'think' (KC) - this awareness is a crucial skill for classroom drama.

Activity: Students in groups of 4 are given an artefact and they need to use the artefact in their freeze frame to highlight the image.

Māori image

I would follow up with 2 questions max (using Q matrix) such as 'what could you see?' and ‘how could you know?’. This encourages students to look and respond and as they do the exercise longer they would go deeper by fine tuning 'what' they see and explain it using creative language to help us 'see' what they 'think'.

Formative assessment: are students 'seeing'. How do I know? Are they 'thinking'? What is my evidence?

Behaviour management: managing self and relating to others (KC)

Use a scarf or a piece of material. Choose whether they have one big group or smaller groups.

Part One: Whole group

Ask everyone to stand in a circle. Introduce the lesson.

Scarf activity

That’s right - we can use our gestures, facial expressions and other techniques to give information about what the imagined object is.

Replace scarf and invite students to have a turn.

Encourage children to think of new ideas rather than repeat those of friends.

If they are stuck, use open ended prompts.

I wonder what else you could turn it into? What else is that kind of shape?

You could also model again.

Remember to ask ‘how did you know?’ each time.

Encourage students to all have a turn - but don’t force them.

Part Two: Small Group

If part one has gone well, divide the class into smaller groups of 4-6 and play again, with a scarf for each group (or a different object). This time students practice turn taking - jumping in when they have an idea.

The person doing the mime asks the follow up question ‘How did you know?’

Part Three: Reflection

Put away scarf and other objects. Invite discussion: “What was tricky?”... “Who did you see doing particularly well at this activity?...”


Notes on students learning needs:

  • There are a few students who are less inclined to incorporate themselves, for these children I will allow them the option of standing back and attempting to guess other people's suggestions. I will make sure I develop an appropriate culture so that if these children are feeling confident enough they can step forward in a safe environment.

  • To encourage this environment I will talk about “affirming each other” and how it is important when practising to express ourselves.

  • On the other end, there are the children that want to be the centre of attention and want to always be in the middle, for these children I will ensure the importance of equal participation. (Allowing everyone a fair turn).


Follow the leader

The following activity will be used as a diagnostic activity to help me gain an understanding and an indication of the childs’ knowledge of ‘movement related terms’ as well as their basic dance movement awareness. Music could be used but is not required (I’m going to do this without music).

Exploring Locomotor Movements - different ways to walk

  1. Instructions:

Introduce the game:

  • We are going to play follow the leader

  • I will start as the leader

  • Carefully watch the person in front of you and go where they go - like a long snake

  • Teacher marks the boundary of the dance by walking it and the students following - use netball courts as boundary

  • When the space has been marked out the teacher discusses the dance space with the children and also addresses safety while being mindful of our own body in space in relation to other bodies in space.

  • Only move onto step two when students are following safely

2. Experimenting with various ways of moving - Try it again but ...

  • Remember we are only walking - safety is the priority - but I bet we can find lots of different ways to walk

  • Keep your eyes on the person in front and do what they do

Teacher leads through the following changes

  • Walk in a zig zag pathway

  • Walk in a curved pathway

  • Walk a perfect circle

  • Walk slow

  • Walk fast

  • Walk in a square

  • Walk backwards (maintain the same direction but turn your body around)

  • Walk sideways (maintain the same direction but turn your body sideways)

Do it again - this time without speaking. Repeat the sequence. Monitor for safety.

Reflection time: Allow time at the end for formative assessment progress.

Stand in a circle for this and ask – ‘What different ways did we walk?’

Model correct use of language (pathways, direction, pace etc.)

What was tricky? Why?

We are focused on our feet, but what are we doing with the rest of our bodies?

  1. This time I will stand aside and we will have some different leaders. I will call out the new leader and I will call out the different ways of walking. Keep following without stopping and make the change to the new leader as smooth as possible. Only change to the new walk when the person right in front of you changes. Keep thinking about safety as you walk…

  • Walk in a zigzag pathway

  • Walk in a curved pathway

  • Walk a perfect circle

  • Walk slow

  • Walk fast

  • Walk in a square

  • Walk backwards (maintain the same direction but turn your body around)

  • Walk sideways (maintain the same direction but turn your body sideways)

  1. This time I will only call out the new leader. THEY will decide on a change of pace, pathway or direction. Remember we are ONLY using a walk – your challenge is to find as many different ways of walking as you can.

Allow for another reflection:

Stand in a circle for reflection – ‘What different ways did we find to walk?’

Did our leaders discover other ideas we hadn’t used before? (Model correct use of language - pathways, direction, tempo, energy etc)

What was tricky? Why? Who did a particularly good job of leading – why?

Recap new language: locomotor movement, tempo, direction, pathways etc.

VIsual art

*same teaching principles could be used with clay or other media

Give out playdough. Discuss safety aspects.

Give purpose of activity: we are exploring different ways to use and shape a piece of playdough and finding ways to talk about what we discover.

We are just using our fingers at first – maybe other tools later!

Before touching Invite students to imagine what the playdough is going to feel like. Have a sniff – what does it smell like? We won’t taste it, but if we did we would discover it is VERY salty – that’s so we can store it and use it again.

It’s fun to make particular things using playdough – like people or shapes or cars. But for this activity we are NOT trying to make something in particular – Instead, try to respond to my questions and prompts so we can explore and discover.

To start - touch and mould the playdough. What are some words we could use to describe the way it feels?

Explore different ways to move the playdough around. What different ways can you find to work the playdough with your fingers. Describe back what you see children doing with language such as: roll, push, flatten, poke, squeeze, knead, coil Share your three favourite ways of moving the dough with your partner.

Diagnostic assessment point: Teacher observation – (what will you watch for here?)

Now make your dough into one big blob again and let’s explore shapes – How many different shapes can you make with your dough? Narrate back what you see children creating A cube, a patty shape, a long sausage, a doughnut shape with a hole, a spiky shape

Contrasting shapes – Can you break your dough into two and make two shapes that are as different as possible? When you have finished, put the two different shapes onto the black paper and stand back. Go for a walk around the room. How are the shapes different? How do they contrast? Model language about shape, size, texture.

Pick up the dough again and let’s have another go – what if we make two different sized blobs? Can we make two more shapes that are EVEN MORE different this time? Remember all those ways of moving the playdough we found earlier? Display ideas on the black card. Think about how you want to place them on the card – try different spaces between them.

Go for a walk. Stand by someone else’s shape that you like. Why do you like it? Describe to the person next to you using delicious describing words.

Diagnostic assessment point :

Stand back and reflect: What’s tricky about this? Why is that? Recap purpose of the task – to explore and find words for what we discover. What words have we found?


Exploring texture: So far we have focused on how to make the playdough look different. If you wanted to make it FEEL different what could you add to it?

Introduce sand, matchsticks, small stones, water or oil. Invite children to take a small bit of playdough and mix the substance in. How does this change the way the dough feels? Can you make another creation including this new texture. What shape will it be? How big will it be?

OR Invite students to choose a (safe) natural material from the environment to introduce to their creation and explore multiple ways of printing in the dough.

When you are happy with your shape find another student whose shape really contrasts to yours and arrange the two creations in an interesting way on the black card. What stories could these two shapes tell?

Pros and cons of playdough in the classroom.


  • Easy and cheap to make (children can help)

  • Encourages open ended exploration

  • Cooked salt playdough can be stored in an airtight container and reused


  • Can be unhygienic

  • Can make a mess!

  • Cultural issues with use of food (flour) in play materials – check with school for policy on this – some prefer use of clay


Option One: Hello - echo song

Teach a simple echo song such as the one shown in the video below. Learn the song off by heart and teach it without the help of a video or music, using your voice to lead and model.

Remember: Teach ‘call and response’ line by line. If using this example, add in the different ending to line 2 and line 4 after children have learned it as a ‘straight’ echo.

Assessment: Notice which children pitch successfully and / or sing with confidence and gusto.

Option 2 - Queen Caroline

This activity encourages children to explore four musical ‘voices’ (Whisper Shout Talk Sing) to create a story. This example is about a king and queen. You might choose to rewrite the words of the rhyme and the story. But be careful to ensure the same ‘perfect rhythm’ with the syllables. [Beat = how your heart goes, Rhythm = how the words go]

Part A: Introduce the rhyme and different voices.

Once upon a time there was a queen called Caroline. Queen Caroline loved to wash her hair. But she didn’t use water - she used … turpentine! (Speak the rhyme Queen queen Caroline washed her hair in turpentine. Turpentine made it shine. Queen queen Caroline.)

1) All the people in the castle were whispering about the queen’s hair (whisper the rhyme).

2) The prince rode into the town and told all the people (shout the rhyme).

3) The townspeople couldn’t believe it! They all started whispering (whisper the rhyme).

4) They had a parade. The king and queen shouted proudly to the town (shout the rhyme).

Students will probably start to join in. Repeat the story a few times. After students know it, then say, “Can you perform it with your talking voice?”

Part B: teach melody with two notes, so and mi. Then, “Can you perform it with your singing voice?”

Part C: using a chart with pictures and names of the four voices, “Can you change your voice when I change the picture that I’m pointing to?!” Start alternating only two voices (whisper/shout … talk/sing).

Assessment: Notice children who can shift between voices with ease. Notice children’s ability to pitch in singing voice.

Things to observe:

  • Are there students who are less inclined to incorporate themselves? Could Queen Caroline be a good option as they can still experiment with the beat even if they are too shy to try to talk the rhyme?

  • Have I developed an appropriate culture so that children feel confident enough to step forward in a safe environment.

  • Are we “affirming each other” and acknowledging how important it is when practising to express ourselves.

  • Are there children that want to be the centre of attention and want to always be in the middle? Can Queen Caroline provide opportunities to involve the whole class and take attention off individual participation?