I remember that when I first began teaching drama, I struggled to find exciting two-person stories to adapt for dramatic use with my teens. Although teachers may be tempted to use large-group activities with early drama students, I have found that partner work can be the best way to introduce core skills, ease students into the art form while making students comfortable and keeping class order. As a result, I decided to write my own stories! Below, I have shared one of these stories, “Who’s Scared!” This story is appropriate for students in first grade through high school. There are many concepts and skills you might teach with this story. I have suggested emotions, pantomime (imitation), and dialogue. I have also suggested related standards you might want to address.
Two friends met in the park. They had nothing to do when they spied the old house everyone said was haunted. The two friends entered the dark old house. Each said they were unafraid of the dark or the scary stories told by everyone at school. When the wind blew a door shut, they both jumped into the big brown pots sitting on the floor. They laughed as they climbed out of the pots and said they were both just fooling around and not scared at all. One of the friends had a flashlight and led the way up some stairs to the top floor. They smelled something bad as they neared the second floor. They held their noses and continued on into a dark room full of books. One of them found a book of magic that said “DANGER: DO NOT READ.” When they opened the book, a bluish smoke began to curl out of the pages. An evil laugh spiraled up with the smoke and filled the room. The friends slammed the book shut, ran down the stairs and out to the yard, and buried the book forever.
EMOTIONS: In the story, the characters feel confidence, excitement, anxiety, fear, surprise, and more. Using this story for a lesson on emotions in drama would allow your students to explore all of those feelings.
Related National Standards: With prompting and support, use movement and gestures to communicate emotions in a guided drama experience (e.g., process drama, story drama, creative drama). (Th:Pr6.1.1) [you can find more of these in our documents titled “Drama Objectives Alignment to National Standards” within each of the grade level curriculum]
Related Erickson Curriculum Objective: Imitate simple emotions through physical movement, facial expression, and posture.
PANTOMIME: Older students may enjoy using the actions and objects in this story to practice pantomime. How do they hold the dangerous book? What does it look like to climb out of a big pot? This story would be certain to make pantomime fun!
Related National Standards: Identify ways in which gestures and movement may be used to create or retell a story in guided drama experiences (e.g., process drama, story drama, creative drama). (Th:Cr1.1.1)
Related Erickson Curriculum Objective: Analyze movement choices that communicate character, setting, emotions, actions, and reactions.
DIALOGUE: More advanced students could even engage with this story by writing or improvising their own dialogue! Because students would be working in pairs, both participants would have ample opportunities to imagine and perform the possibilities.
Related National Standards: a. Collaborate with peers to devise meaningful dialogue in a guided drama experience (e.g., process drama, story drama, creative drama). (Th:Cr2-2)
Related Erickson Curriculum Objective: Use voice to communicate feelings, ideas, and thoughts of a character through dialogue.
by Karen Erickson