In my earlier posts, I discussed the general theory of creative dramatics and some of the more popular approaches that have been put forth in the past. In this post, I would like to share a sample of a full creative drama activity. This activity begins with a warm up that introduces the idea of creating a machine. It then compares the operations of a machine to the operations of the human body to help the students visualize how the systems of the human body operate. I am not a science teacher nor have I ever taught science in a classroom. This is simply a model to demonstrate a specific creative drama process.
The Human Machine
NS5-8.3 Life Sciences Structure and function in living systems
Regulation and behavior
AR.05.CP.01 Use experiences, imagination, observations, essential elements and organizational
principles to achieve a desired effect when creating, presenting and/or performing works of art.
Students will form a hypothesis regarding how various systems in their bodies might work.
Students will compare the workings of a machine to the manner in which human bodies function.
Students will demonstrate the ability to cooperate in a small group
Students will demonstrate the ability to use their bodies and movements to communicate a cause and effect progression
Warm up: Machines 5 minutes
A. Tell students that we are going to create a brand new machine which has never been invented before.
B. Ask for volunteer to start.
C. Student 1 begins by making a large repetitive motion accompanied by a sound.
D. Student 2 joins student 1 by creating a synchronized movement and sound
E. One by one students join the machine each creating their own
movement and sound.
F. Segue: Ask students what kind of machine they made; take as many suggestions as possible
G. Ask students what allows a machine to work?
1. Each part has a function.
2. Each part works correctly.
2. Each part works correctly.
3. Some sort of power source or fuel.
Activity: Machines 11 minutes
A. Number students 1 through 6 (from 3 to 6 members in each group is good).
B. Have each group go into its own space in room
C. Hand each group a card with the name of a machine on it (examples: lawnmower, typewriter, washing machine, power saw etc.) Explain: each group must find a way to enact
this machine at work using every person in their group. (these can be performed for each other or not).
D. Repeat exercise, this time using body systems instead of machines
(digestive system, heart pumping, eye seeing, waste disposal).
Follow up discussion: 4 minutes
What are the similarities between machines and systems within our body?
What are the differences?
As you can see, this activity does not teach how the body works, but it does help student to create and present a hypothesis. It creates a metaphor through which students can model their hypothesis. If used as an opening activity to a unit on the processes of the body, it gives the instructor a very good idea of what the students currently understand about the subject and can be used as an affective pre-assessment.
Very few creative dramatics activities can be followed like a recipe effectively. As mentioned in the tenets of creative dramatics, the teacher must use his or her creativity to tweak and prod a lesson plan to fit the needs of the specific curriculum. The teacher must facilitate student learning in the fullest sense. My final recommendation, if you are hesitant to begin using creative dramatics in your classroom, is to find a partner and plan a 15 to 20 minute session together. My most productive sessions have been over a bottle of wine or a good dinner (remember to keep your receipts, its tax deductable). If each teacher attempts the activity in their own classroom, you can compare notes. Careful self assessment is crucial. Does the lesson need to be changed, the warm up or the manner in which the lesson is presented. Flexibility and brutal honesty are essential. Most importantly, share what works and learn from your peers.
If you have questions or feedback I can be reached at [email protected]
Director of Theatre Education
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.