SPICE it Up! – Reinvigorate Your Curriculum with Drama Integration

Announcing Onestopdramashop.com’s Inaugural Online Conference

We are thrilled to announce that our first ever SPICE It Up! Conference is happening this summer from August 12-13, 2022. We wanted to create a space for our teachers to deepen their knowledge of Arts Integration and expand their teaching strategies with the help of experts in the field. Our conference will feature a Keynote from our founder Karen L. Erickson, as well as presentations, Q&As, and interactive activities with professionals at the forefront of Drama Education and Arts Integration.

So, what does SPICE stand for anyway?

S – Share strategies with fellow educators
P – Play with different teaching methods
I – Imagine new pathways for learning
C – Create a personalized curriculum
E – Engage with new material

We want to provide an opportunity for educators to work towards all these goals and walk away with renewed confidence in their curriculum before the new school year!

We will be announcing more details over the coming months. In the meantime, if you would like to receive updates on the Conference and be the first to know when registration goes live, please sign up for our mailing list here

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    Karen in workshop

    Working with Books – A Sick Day

    A new feature, Working with Books, encourages you to look at your bookshelves and find the perfect new or classic book with which to build a classroom drama.  I will begin with my favorites, but I encourage you to send me titles and your notes if you have built a drama with your recommendation and we will share your ideas in hopes everyone can build a powerful classroom library suitable for drama.

    This month’s book, a 5 star recommendation for drama:

     A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead;  with many purchasing choices.

    “Friends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Amos McGee’s case, all sorts of species, too! Every day he spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it’s time they returned the favor.”  Macmillan Publishers

    Age recommendation: Pre K – 2nd Grade (4-7 year olds)

    Themes:  Friendship, Animals, Being Sick, Interacting with Friends, Zoos, Careers/Jobs

    Drama Skills you might address:  Transformation, Working with Space, Dialogue, Playing Animals Upright, Imitating Actions

    Curricular Connections:  Science, Language Arts, Social/Emotional Learning

     

    I highly recommend this book as it provides many connections and options for drama and presents ideas for curricular connections and drama skills you might want to teach or reinforce.  

    This book works beautifully with teacher in role as Amos McGee, the animals’ friend.  You might want a pair of old glasses or a hat of some type and introduce costume piece to the students letting them know when you put it on you are Amos from the story and when you take it off, you are the teacher again.

    Begin with 1-2 warmups:  With students in their own personal space, have them transform into the different animals (elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl) from the book.  Give them time to walk, sleep, eat, run (or fly), and drink water as their animal.  Just give them time to experience the animal.  Having photos of the real animals is a great idea here, integrate with science by discussing the animal’s habitats, food preferences, and how then sleep, hunt, or live.

    Next, have them imitate the activities found in the story:  playing chess, racing, sitting shyly, blowing nose in a handkerchief, listening to stories.  Have them imitate the activities first as themselves –a human, then as the corresponding animal.

    Read the book and discuss the message, setting, and ideas of the author.  (Sometimes I do this first and have them list the animals and the activities….both ways work well.)

    Next, play the story with everyone (still in personal space) being each of the animals as you play in role as Amos and act as the narrator/storyteller.  (Note:  keep your signaling device handy so you can continue to manage the group as you play out the book.)

    Idea:  You might bring in a blanket so the animals will know the space for the bed and not be tempted to get too close.  I also like to use a teddy bear and have it near or on my “bed.” 

    You can continue to have the young actors all be each animal, imitating the actions from their personal space (this can be played with masks on) and speaking from their spot in the room.  It is okay to have them all speak at once, many won’t speak.  You can feed them the lines to speak as you retell the story to them, pausing to give them time to respond.  You can extend the dialogue adding more conversation with the animals if your class is ready to move in that direction.

    The book can be broken into two lessons as well:  the front part of the story is an introduction to animal characters and actions and can be a standalone lesson; the second lesson brings the animals to the bedside of Amos and allows for creative variations in the playing, e.g. all students playing each animal or groups of students playing one animal one at a time. 

    Great extensions are a possibility as well like: What zoo animals would they add to the story and what might Amos be doing with each of those animals?  Then have the students transform into those animals imitating those actions.  Play the story again using their ideas.    This is a great way to encourage creative thinking.  With this simple act, students begin to understand story adaptation and that they can extend or alter stories they play in drama, thus becoming playwrights.

     

    by Karen Erickson

    Karen Erickson

    Adapting a drama lesson: THE STATUE MAKER

    Adapting a drama lesson-statue maker

    This is the fourth blog article written as I pause from my regular blog 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.

    In this month, I will discuss adapting a drama lesson: The Statue Maker lesson , also known as Concentration and Partner Work Lesson (found in OneStopDRAMAShop.com) adapts really well for on line instruction if you have breakout rooms available. 

    In this lesson, students usually “mold” their partners into images by manipulating and shaping them.  In the “in person classroom” I share with the students that they don’t have to touch their partners or be touched, if they do not wish.  Instead they have the option of showing their partner how to move into the image or they can tell their partner what to do by giving clear instructions verbally.  For the on line work, the latter two options are shared and left up to the statue make and their partner, the clay, to decide which path they will take.   In this way, students can still practice the art of decision making (who will be the statue maker and who will be the clay) and negotiating their decision peacefully which is outlined in the lesson. 

    Additional variances for the on line work: 

    The teacher modeling:  When I model, I ask one student to be my partner and we first do the “Red and Blue” dialogue to determine who is the statue maker and who is the clay arriving at the “ask, don’t tell!” feature.    Next we choose one of the options (showing or verbal instructions).  Then I give a prompt for the content of the statue (e.g. create a statue of something to eat that is good for you,  create a statue of a person showing responsibility,  create a statue of a famous landmark you might see on the East Coast, etc.).  Lastly we model working until the statue is created.  

    I share a step by step process with the students:

    Your 1 minute Challenge:

    • - Decide who the statue maker is and who the clay is:  use the “Ask! Don’t Tell” and the Decision Making Strategy.
    • - Decide together if the statue maker will use showing or verbal instructions to make the statue.
    • - Statue Maker completes the statue based on this prompt ________________.
    • - Switch roles and do it again, if time permits.

     

    The students are paired or tripled up and sent to breakout rooms to complete the 1-2 minute challenge of making their statues. 

    The students return and share their statues with the entire class.  Explaining to the class what they have made.


    On following days you might want to repeat the activity but this time enlarging the groups and taking it in to the realm of story.

    I begin by discussing the story elements of character and action (as it relates to plot and message).

    Students are grouped into teams of 3-5 depending on their age and social development.  This time when they are sent for their challenge, they are given a small script with blanks to use as a prompt for their statues.  Below are some script ideas:

    • I/we saw someone _______­­______ so I/we did ________ and then I (we) _____________ed to solve the problem. 
    • I/we saw __________ happening so I/we quickly ________ and then did ______________to help the person.
    • Because I felt______________ I sort of accidentally on purpose did ___________ which caused _________________ to happen.  So, I took responsibility and did ____________. 

    The students follow the same process outlined for the first day but now they have two images (or three or four) to create in a sequence that tells the story.  Also, additional time is give 3-4 minutes.

    Once they have completed their statue stories, they return to the class and share their statues as they tell their story. 

    All my lessons are written as a sequence of short steps.  On OneStopDRAMAShop.com 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

    Adapting a drama story for remote learners

    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 OneStopDRAMAShop.com 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

    More on Drama with Remote Learners

    drama with remote learners

    This is the second blog article written as I pause from my regular blog 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 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.

    A Possible Warm Up/Intro to Drama

    I used the BASIC MIRROR activity (page 127 in the 181 Ideas for Drama book and available at OneStopDRAMAShop.com).  For this activity in my online classroom, I began leading all of the participants as they faced me through the screen.  I gradually made this harder with some of the additional mirror Level I activities. Throughout the activity, I would call another student’s name and they would begin leading with the rest of us following.  I would side coach to move faster, slower, be less tricky, watch to see that everyone is keeping up with you, etc.    In a socially distanced space, if students are all facing one direction and set apart from each other, the activity can be implemented by you being the leader up in the front and then asking individual students to come to the front to lead the rest of the group. 

    For younger students (first – third grades) there is a story called “The Caveman” (available in the FROM PAGE TO STAGE 50 ORIGINAL STORIES FOR CLASSROOM DRAMA and available at OneStopDRAMAShop.com) that can be used as an extension to the mirror activity following the same classroom set up as above:  one leader in front and everyone following as the story is played out.  I am wondering if you could do the mirror in partners as well if there is enough distance between the partners.

    If, in the socially distanced classroom, you have enough space for distant mirrors – or by using the one student in front method – you could create HAND MIRROR STORIES.  This activity works well in online situations (like Zoom) with one leader who shares their hand story with everyone, then everyone weighs in on the story.

    Hand Mirror Stories 

    © 1989 Karen L. Erickson

    Students will:

    • Concentrate during drama experiences.
    • Identify and use dramatic structural terms accurately such as: setting, character, plot, conflict, climax, problem, obstacles and resolution along with who, what, why, where, when, and how.

    Step 1:  Warm-up with the Basic Mirror activity. 

    Step 2:  Have the students sit and let their hands come alive as two distinct characters: human, animal, or object.  They should move their two characters about as you might move a puppet.  Side coach them to let their two characters meet.  “Are they friendly? Enemies? Strangers? Dangerous? Kind?  On a mission of some type?”  Let them keep playing and exploring with their two characters.  Side coach them to let their characters meet up and do something together.  One of the creatures might cause a problem for the other, need help, or engage the second to do a task.  Then a problem happens they must solve together.  They solve the problem and the characters head off in opposite directions.   

    Step 3:  Individual students play their hand story out in front of the group (either as an online group or Socially Distanced in front of the class) while the rest of the participants mirror the moves/story.   When the leader has finished, call on another classmate to orally retell the story as she thinks it unfolded.  The student who created the story then tells his story as he tried to communicate it.  Then the next student is called up to lead their story.  And so forth and so on.

     For social emotional learning – have the stories be about responsibility, compassion, or empathy between the two hand characters.  I recommend discussing the chosen word with the students and brainstorming examples of that word in action in daily life.

    I used this activity with K-5 students in an online classroom and it worked beautifully. They loved it.  The younger the students the more coaching is needed to create the story and they will be simple and short.  Older students added a great many more details.  This is also a wonderful way to integrate with language arts and to teach details in writing.

    Hang in there and keep trying.  New and innovative ideas will come out of this current situation as the struggles you have are common among all.  Send me your ideas for drama with remote learners or even your struggles and I’ll incorporate them here for all to share.



    by Karen Erickson

    Karen Erickson

    Drama in the Age of Covid-19

    drama

    This is a pause in my regular blog posts focusing on drama classroom management, integration, collaboration, and assessment to share ideas about conducting drama in the age of Covid-19, Zoom 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 this year teaching young people drama on Zoom and beginning to design ideas for socially distant classrooms.  I will be sharing with you some of the ideas that were successful for me.

    A simple idea for both Zoom and socially distanced classrooms:  try WORD LIST activity (found on page 22 in the 181 Ideas book or online at onestopdramashop.com).  Word List is an activity for later elementary, middle, and upper grades that stresses memory, recall, and word association skills.  Participants do not have to interact with each other as the focus is on listening and connecting what they hear to other actors and to what comes before in a word sequence.   The leader begins with a word; the next participant adds a word to the leader’s creating a string.   The word they add must associate with the leader’s word.  The next participant repeats the first two words and adds a word associated with the word added last.  This continues around the room for one, two, or three cycles….creating a longer and longer string of associated words.  Challenges can be added:  stop and have the activity continue the reverse way around the room or have them start the sequence from end of list reciting all of the words back to the beginning.   

    On Zoom and in Socially Distanced Classrooms – use the basic FREEZE.  The Freeze activity works well with all students K-High School.  On Zoom, my signaling device worked well.  They could hear it and react.  I wasn’t so concerned with their holding absolutely still…when we debriefed it was more about self-reflection and overcoming their struggle with concentration.      You can find the basic Freeze and variety of other freeze activities on page 37 of the 181 Level One Ideas for Drama book or on the website.  I was able, with the later elementary, middle, and high schoolers, to move this into the CRAZY SHAPES activity (pg. 37 in 181 Level One Ideas for Drama and on the website). Students who could think of ideas for their crazy physical shape held still and were called on to answer a question like:

                   You are at a birthday party and someone just took your photo, what are you doing?

                   You are at a beach and someone just took your photo, what are you doing?

                   You are on the playground and someone just took your photo, what are you doing?

                                  For social emotion learning:

                   You are helping someone who is being teased, what are you doing?

                   You are helping someone who is injured, what are you doing?

                   You are showing kindness to someone in your classroom, what are you doing?

                   You are helping out at home (or in the classroom or the neighborhood), what are you doing?

     We observed each actor on Zoom as they shared their idea for their physical shape. 

    CRAZY SHAPES will not work as written in person to person classrooms which are in tightly confined socially distanced spaces…but I am imagining that you might have them move just the upper part of their body then freeze them, then ask them one of these questions:

                   You are in the water; what are you doing?

                   You are performing in a movie (circus, etc.) what are you doing?

                   You are a trained animal:  what animal are you and what are you doing?

                   You are sitting on a bus; what are you doing?

    Repeat having them move just the lower part of their body. 

     

    Please let me know if this is useful content for you.  If so, I have many more activities to share that move into dialogue, scene work, stories, and creative thinking.  I wish I were there to do this with you, but for now, this will have to do.

    Your feedback is essential.

     



    by Karen Erickson

    Karen Erickson

    Word List Activity

    Word List Activity

    Word List is an activity for later elementary, middle, and upper grades that stresses memory, recall, and word association skills.  Participants do not have to interact with each other as the focus is on listening and connecting what they hear to other actors and to what comes before in a word sequence.  Challenges can be added:  stop and have the activity continue the reverse way around the room or have them start the sequence from end of list reciting all of the words back to the beginning.

    Using Drama to Address Bullying Behaviors

    Some of you requested more help with addressing bullying behaviors in your classrooms and wondered what choices you might make in selecting and devising drama work. 

    Drama is a powerful tool in addressing bullying.  It must be used consistently and over time to be effective.  A onetime experience is not enough to provide the outcome we all desire.  This is the first in a series of articles that explains steps you might take, safely, to move your classroom, school, community group, or program to a bully free zone through the experiences of dramatic play.

    Here are some ideas for classroom practice.  Please, as always, share with me any of your ideas, activities, and questions!

    Why Drama?

    Research shows that young people need:

    •   – A way to practice anti-bullying behaviors.
    •   – Ways to step out of themselves, in a safe environment, and look at the problem from a distance.
    •   – To develop a common vocabulary and language among peers to discuss and create an anti-bullying culture.
    •  

    Drama provides a safe place for young people to practice anti-bullying behaviors.  They take on roles that are different from themselves and can speak “in role” about their feelings and thoughts.  This simple act of taking on a role, sets a young person outside of themselves and provides a safe distance to explore proper language and actions that might be used in a bullying situation. As they work through dramatic experiences, they gain a shared vocabulary which provides a confidence in speaking about bullying behaviors with their peers. This sharing of ideas and having the right words to speak can carry over into experiences outside of the classroom where they might need to draw upon their own internal strength to confront a bully, support a target, or stand up against inappropriate behavior in others.  It is best to remember that this dramatic impact happens when drama is taught in a sequence and it is NOT a singular event.

    Why is a Sequential Approach Necessary?

    Judith Kase-Polinsini in her book The Creative Drama Book: Three Approaches explains that

    “….many teacher curriculum guides suggest that the teacher ‘have the children act out the story’ as though by simply telling a group to get up and act it out, something will happen and have educational value.”   

    Often we see Character Education Curricula include role playing situations where the participants are asked to improvise scenes involving bullying.  When teachers are asked how effective these scenes were, they often answer that the students were silly, didn’t take the situations seriously, and/or created scenes with little focus on the topic.  If participants have little background in drama, they don’t know the protocols of the art form, they don’t know the proper way to approach improvisational scene work, they cannot “read or write” with the aesthetics of the art form:  body language, emotional communication, and language choice. So, of course, they don’t know what to do with the task at hand. This is why the following drama content/protocols are recommended integrated with or leading up to a bullying curriculum where drama is used as an exploration tool:

    •   – set a routine for beginning and ending drama, scenes, and planning sessions.
    •   – set a signal for gaining attention when needed,
    •   – introduce grade level appropriate drama vocabulary and practice, (i.e. concentration, imitation, transformation, collaboration, and imagination)
    •   – share beginning classroom protocols and expectations, and
    •   – introduce the notion that your classroom will be a creative place where content will be introduced through active learning and smiles.

    Ideas to begin your work

    I recommend starting with a bullying topic you would like to discuss with the participants.  Let’s look at the following myth and reality about bullying.

    Myth:

    You can spot a bully by the way he looks, her background, or home life.

    Reality:

    Bullying is learned and is best recognized by the behavior. Bullies come from all walks of life and have no certain “look.”

     

    Bullies look like us.  They are us. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, etc.  Participants often think they have a stereotypical look. 

    Idea:    Begin with a photo of a “normal” person who turns out to be a bully.   In “The Daydreamer” by Ian MacEwan on page 97 (in the chapter titled “The Bully“) there is a fabulous picture of a young man who looks clean cut and studious but who is actually the school bully.   Without revealing the truth behind the picture, share it with the students and have them infer what they think the author or illustrator is telling them about the person through the image on the page.  Have them get up and become the person:  what is his posture, facial expression, walk, gestures?  Have them random walk around the room imitating actions you might suggest, i.e. walk down a street looking for an address, walk up a hill carrying a bucket of water, etc.

     Next, partner the students and have them create a dialogue between the person and one of his classmates, between the person and his teacher, between the person and his parents. (Be sure to give the partners actions to perform as they create their dialogue, e.g. the person and his classmate shoot baskets as they have a conversation; the person and his mom build a city with Legos as they dialogue; etc. You might also give them a topic but, rather, let them plan their own topic.)  Have participants share their scenes and discuss the internal characteristics of the person.  Then you might reveal that he/she is a bully and yet looks so “normal.” 

    (If using The Daydreamer, you might want to block out the image of the monster that is reflected in the boy’s shadow or discuss that shadow as well. A conversation between the boy and the shadow following him is another great idea for a scene.)   

    All partners work simultaneously in planning and practicing their scenes.  You can then use one of the strategies to view student work that you can find in a resource on my site titled, “Techniques for Viewing Classroom Drama.”

    Lastly, have participants again create the walk, posture, gestures, etc. of the person as they move about the room and imitate different actions.  Then discuss changes they made to their characterization and ask them why as… there should have been no changes.  Bullies are normal and are often invisible. 

    Any photo, actually, will do as the participants explore a seemingly normal character that you later reveal is a bully in a story….a story you create, or they create, or that you find. 

    The take away here is that a bully looks like a normal person, like you and me. 

    We must remember that when people harm others, often the people closest to them say they had no idea the person was violent or that the person would take such action.  They are surprised as the person looked so normal.    

    This is an easy start before you move into larger, longer scene work. 

    I will be moving through other ideas and next steps in blog articles to come up next.

    by Karen Erickson

    Karen Erickson

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    March13.  Landforms (Three-Day Unit) 8
    April14.  Art Print Lesson10
    May15.  Journey to Another Culture (Six-Day Unit)8, 9, 11
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    5th Grade Lessons
    Recommended Lesson Sequence for Fifth Grade  The lessons suggested for our Fifth Grade Curriculum are put in a recommended delivery order below, but you may revise, rearrange, and adapt as you see fit.  This year-long planning guide maps a year of drama ...
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