Adapting a drama story for remote learners

Drama in the Age of Covid-19  Number 3

Adapting a drama story: THE ELVES and the SHOEMAKER

This is the third blog article written as I pause from my regular posts which focus on drama classroom management, integration, collaboration, and assessment to share ideas about conducting drama for remote learners in the age of online classes and social distancing.  I know there is difficulty in taking a collaborative art form and retrofitting it into the new educational parameters. I spent from April-June 2020 teaching young people drama via an online interface and beginning to design ideas for socially distant classrooms.  I will be sharing with you some of the ideas that were successful for me in doing drama with remote learners.  I am asking that you use this forum to share your ideas – you will be credited –challenges and lessons learned.  We will all be grateful to you.

Lessons to Mini Lessons

Lessons that you find on my web site can be so much shorter than written.  Each lesson is actually broken into steps on the lesson plan.  So, when looking at a lesson you might break it into Mini lessons like this:

  • Mini Lesson Day One: Review and introduction; followed by the warm-up activity, followed by a reflection – 15-20 minutes.
  • Mini Lesson Day Two:  Reflect on day before 3-5 minutes, followed by a quick repeat of the warmup from Day One; followed by the whole or part of the body of the lesson, followed by a quick reflection.  20 minutes
  • Mini Lesson Day Three: Review days one and two; followed by a quick warm up or a repeat of an activity previously completed from the body of the lesson, followed by the final lesson activity, followed by reflection.  20 -25 minutes.  

Note:  Or you might repeat the Day Three steps over and over until you come to the end of the activity or story.

Here is an example for adapting a drama story:  The Elves and the Shoemaker.

Day One Introduction:  I ask them what they know about elves. (Optional:  I read or tell them the story.)  This is followed by everyone making up an elf dance in their “online space” at home or in their own designated area for drama at school.  Students who want to share then share their dances. Lastly, I tell them they must remember their dance for day two (I don’t really care if they change, forget, or make up a new dance but it does give a reason for them to try to memorize and to practice their movement. Two steps in the process of this art form.) They do a final practice followed by reflection on elves, the story, predicting what the story will be about – if I haven’t read or told it to them in advance, and drama skills.    I encourage them to show their parents for one more practice later that night. 

Day Two:  We warmup with reflecting on what we did Day One and everyone does their elf dance.   I tell or read the story (I always prefer telling as I can alter details…such as, in the original story there are only 3 elves but as I retell it there is a band of many elves.   In their space everyone transforms into the Shoemaker.   As I tell the story again, they imitate the Shoemaker making the shoes, selling the shoes, etc.  He works hard but is still poor.  This is the next step of the story.  We reflect comparing the two characters:  elves and Shoemaker.

Day Three:  We reflect and warmup with the elf dance.  The students imitate the elves, sneak in and sew the shoes.  Teacher plays in role as the shoemaker, finds the shoes, and sells the shoes to the students who are now townspeople.  Stop here or finish the story where the shoemaker discovers the elves, makes the clothes, the elves find the clothes and do their dance.  End with a reflection of the three days, meaning of the story, and drama skills.

So, a formerly one day lesson [pre-Covid times] becomes three days.  If one takes the time to reflect about the problem/solution, characters, message, reality and fantasy, or a host of other things....the lesson(s) become richer.  


All my lessons are written as a sequence of short steps.  On you can find this story written out in a lesson plan that you can download and break into your own steps.     The two previous articles in this blog outline several activities that can be done on line as well as for distanced classroom instruction. If you have a favorite lesson you would like me to adapt for our current situation, please write me and let me know.  Glad to assist.



by Karen Erickson

Karen Erickson