Drama Activities (Movement)

Name of the Activity:  Janitor (Or Grandma’s Footsteps)

Type of Warmup/Activity: Movement

Reason For Choosing: This is a classic drama game. The reason that I like it is because it gets the students using their bodies in imaginative ways. Whether they are doing dance moves, karate, or being an animal, they are actively using their bodies to create character, shapes, or tableaus without knowing it (or knowing it depending on if it is in the instructions beforehand). It also gives them the concept of being still within a pose (“Statue-ing”) when looked at by the janitor. This is fun game that students (and I) enjoy. It can also be a precursor to many different movement concepts as well as an opportunity for further exploration of these concepts (ex. Rudolf Laban’s Effort Theory, etc…).

Skills Used: Movement, Bodily Control, Concentration, Patience, Spontaneity, Creativity

Procedure: One student is designated as the “Janitor”. The janitor closes their eyes and counts to five. In these five seconds, the other students strike a pose (anything they choose…appropriate to school of course). Ex. The thinking man, The Whip/ Nay-nay, Karate Battle Poses, Plank, He-Man doing his power of Grayskull thing, Dab, Starfish, Robot, etc…(Anything) After this five seconds, the janitor walks around the classroom trying to catch people whom he/ she catches moving. As is implied, students try to move while the janitor is not looking into new poses. The janitor is switched once everyone is caught moving. (No-one is allowed to move while the janitor is watching them)

Variations:

  1. Grandma’s Footsteps is the main variation to this game. One student is designated as “Grandma” and they go to the opposite side of the room as the rest of the class. Students then try to sneak up and tap grandma on the shoulder to finish the game. At any time, grandma may turn around and anyone they catch moving has to go back to the start.
  2. Place objects (ex. scarf, hat, etc..) around the room that students have to try and use/ wear during either janitor or Grandma’s Footsteps game.
  3. Create a theme that the students have to then try and emulate in their poses (ex. Fruits and Vegetables, animals, fighting styles, etc…)

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is based on movement principles and allows the students to improvise using their bodies. It is an active exploration, development and expression of ideas through dramatic movement.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Students may have had to research characters from history and then move as those characters within this activity.
  3. Critical/ Responsive- A journal entry or discussion about the most effective methods of moving within this activity could be done. An analysis of Laban’s Effort Theory in regards to the different types of movement within this activity is a great reflection tool.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication -creating opportunities for students to express their ideas in a variety of ways, allowing them to learn from other students’ thinking and to demonstrate their present understanding

 

Critical and Creative Thinking -guiding students’ analysis of their drama experiences in order to deepen their understanding of dramatic art form and of the concepts being explored
  -allowing for differing expression and interpretation of assignments, and encouraging

imaginative responses

 

Technological Literacy -enhancing students’ perceptual abilities and awareness

 

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Develop acting skills -express themselves confidently

through movement and gesture

  -display clarity of movement and gesture

 

Exercise critical thought and support opinions when responding to dramatic presentations -develop an understanding of how the

artistic purpose of each of the artists is

served by the use of theatre elements

 

Understand the role of drama in

various cultures, past and present

-understand the universality of certain

themes, characters and situations in

dramatic expression through the ages

 

– understand that through theatre

history they can discover various

acting styles (movement based in this case)

 

 

 

 

Name of the Activity:  The Machine

Type of Warmup/Activity: Movement (Voice)(I generally add Voice to Movement activities)

Reason For Choosing: I like this activity because it makes the students think about working together as a group to create something. It is a very relaxed type of activity that they can have a lot of fun with building this fictitious machine. It requires them to work as a team and have everyone contribute a small part of a whole towards the end goal of creativity. Plus, it allows students who might otherwise be anxious with movement in an individual atmosphere to feel safe as a small part of a big group.

Skills Used: Movement, Bodily Control, Concentration, Spontaneity, Creativity, Teamwork, Voice

Procedure: The machine begins with one student making a simple repeatable gesture (Ex. Arms outstretched and bending at the knees in a squat). A simple sound is added to this gesture that can be repeated by this individual as well (Ex. WHOOOP, BZZ, etc… (Onomatopoeia)).

Once the first student begins then the other members are gradually entered into the space to “add” to the machine using the same style as previous (a simple repeatable gesture and sound). The students coming in are trying to connect to the original movement (or the subsequent entries into the machine) to create the illusion of one giant working machine with lots of sounds and movement.

Variations:

  1. (Addition) Instead of just breaking the machine after completion, have the students brainstorm what this machine could be (can be totally abstract and imaginative or practical). After, have them try and pick a starting point that they believe would be the start up for the machine (the “on” button so to speak). Have them try and figure out how the machine would start up (warm up). Do all parts start simultaneously? Do some parts have to wait for others to start before they can? How long does it take for this specific part to rev up to full speed?
  2. The students could go in partners to try and work together instead of one after the other (maybe they have to be connected at all times or they may have to do the same move but at a different part of the machine (etc…)) Or everyone has to go at once and try to figure it all out together on the spot.
  3. Pick a machine that the students have to try to create (ex. toaster, computer, etc…)

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is a sort of tableau exercise with moving parts. This activity allows the students to improvise using their bodies in a variety of creative scenarios. It is an active exploration, development, and expression of ideas through dramatic movement.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Have the students research different machines from the past to try to create. (Ex. The cotton gin, a steam train, the Wright Brothers aircraft, etc…)
  3. Critical/ Responsive- A reflection on what type of machine the students created as well as how they saw their “part” fit into the machine can help bolster creativity with this activity. They could comment on whether they believed the group was right about the use of the machine or if they had their own opinion on its uses they could share this as well.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication -organizing instruction which allows students to bring forward prior knowledge and/or to make connections with other school learning
  -creating opportunities for students to express their ideas in a variety of ways, allowing them to learn from other students’ thinking and to demonstrate their present understanding

 

Numeracy -providing opportunities for students to interpret and produce models, maps, graphs, charts and sketches in order to further develop their own understanding of their work
  -designing learning experiences which develop spatial concepts, such as proportion, symmetry and distance

 

Technological Literacy -integrating content from other subject areas in order to help students understand how technology shapes and is shaped by society

 

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Acquire understandings and abilities in group processes -listen to the ideas of others
  – begin to practice group decision-making and problem-solving

 

Develop acting skills -accept and respond to others in role
  -display clarity of movement and gesture
  -understand that all movement must be motivated

 

Understand the role of drama in various cultures, past and present -understand that through theatre history they can discover various staging possibilities

 

Name of the Activity:  The Conveyer Belt

Type of Warmup/Activity: Movement (Voice)

Reason For Choosing: I actually learned this from a student as part of an assignment that they did. The other students absolutely loved this game as did I. It requires lots of concentration off the bat to figure out exactly where to move but once the students have it down they really start to enjoy themselves. It also requires a lot of listening and focus as well. This game is very fun and goofy and got even the “coolest” students to start acting goofy and having fun.

Skills Used: Movement, Concentration (Listening), Spontaneity, Creativity, Teamwork, Voice

Procedure: To begin, split students into two lines that face one another (each person has to have a partner directly across from them). Designate one line “A” and one “B”.

Explain that when the “leader” (most likely the teacher in this case as you want everyone participating) says “Left” everyone takes a step to their left (students at the end switch to the other side ex. an “A” turns into a “B”)( (Note: If students are getting confused with the switching, explain that you don’t end up facing the next person in line – you end up facing the person two people down (because both lines move)).

After everyone becomes comfortable moving in the lines, the “left” changes into either the verbal commands “Left” or “Right”. Students are encouraged to try this a few times as well.

The next step is to add the verbal commands “A” and “B” in which the first line that was called creates a movement and the second mirrors this movement (each student creates their own move)

Ex. Leader- “A”

Line “A” student- Jumping Jacks

Line “B” student pair- does Jumping Jacks as well      (A does a move and B mirrors it)

(Can call “B” first but give them some time figuring the process out before changing it up)

The last step is to get them to add a sound to the movement in which they do. Therefore, if a student did a claw-like movement then they could add a “Growl” with it (ex. a lion or a zombie).

After adding all the different components, the leader can call them out in any order they desire.

 

Step by Step Breakdown of Procedure-

Line A stands facing Line B

Leader calls out left and everyone takes a step to their left (ends go to the opposite line)

Once everyone understands the idea of left, add right (same principle).

Once everyone understands left and right, add “A.” When A is called, line A strikes a pose and then B has to follow it (mirror).

Once everyone understands A, add “B” (same principle).

Once everyone understands the pose striking, add a sound to that pose that has to be copied by the other line. Have fun!

 

Variations:

  1. Play with speed. Start slow but then get really fast so students really just go with impulses.
  2. Instead of finishing the moves once you switch, have the students continue that movement until their line is called again. (Ex. continues jumping jacks until “A’s” are called again)

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is based on movement principles and allows the students to improvise using their bodies. It is an active exploration, development and expression of ideas through dramatic movement.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- After having researched some cultural movements (such as dances), have the students do these types of movements within the belt.
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Create a journal entry or discuss the success or failure of the belt. Where students listening or participating? Etc…

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Critical and Creative Thinking -allowing for differing expression and interpretation of assignments, and encouraging imaginative responses

 

Personal and Social Values and Skills -providing opportunities for students to respond to and build upon the ideas of others
  -having students work co-operatively in paired or small group activities
  -modelling and encouraging sensitive responses to the ideas, comments and creative expressions of others

 

Communication -creating opportunities for students to express their ideas in a variety of ways, allowing them to learn from other students’ thinking and to demonstrate their present understanding

 

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Acquire increased knowledge of others, themselves and the world around them -recall and respond to drama

Experiences

 

Develop self-confidence self-discipline

and self-motivation

-feel secure in the class

 

 

Acquire understandings and abilities

in group processes

-co-operate with others in groups of various sizes to plan and participate in drama experiences
  -listen to the ideas of others

 

 

 

Name of the Activity:  Chair Tag

Type of Warmup/Activity: Movement

Reason For Choosing: This exercise is a great for building awareness especially in relation to your peers’ movements. The point of this exercise is for everyone to work together to fill the chair and requires lots of communication and problem-solving for the group. It is also an easy way for those that “don’t like” drama to be involved and still contributing. This is another great activity to include the “too cool for school” kids and have them actively participate.

Skills Used: Movement, Concentration, Teamwork, Awareness, Communication

Procedure: Every person grabs a chair and positions themselves randomly around the room (preferably with some distance in-between each chair). One person is designated as “it”. They go to the opposite side of the room (leaving their chair where it was). This is when the game begins.

The person who is “it” begins walking towards the open chair (Note: this is important to the integrity of the game and allows the group to have to think on their feet rather than it being a free for all run fest).

The rest of the group tries to navigate who is going to move to the chair that is currently open to block the person who is “it” from being able to sit in the chair. The person who is “it” then shifts to try and walk to the new open seat left by the person that moved to block (and so on and so forth).

This requires the group to communicate what they are doing so that they can work as a team to try and continuously block the “it” person.

If the person who is “it” gets to an open seat and sits down, he/she wins and that round is over.

Major Notes-

  1. The person who is “it” cannot run but the group can to try and get ahead of them.
  2. No one can pull the chair out as the person who is “it” tries to sit down. If they have their hand on it, they have successfully acquired the chair.
  3. If you stand up to try and run to the open seat you CANNOT sit back down. If your bum leaves the seat, you have to as well.

Variations:

  1. Try not allowing them to talk during the exercise and instead they have to rely on group/ environmental awareness rather than communication.
  2. Having two people be “it” will significantly up the ante for the group.

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This game is an active movement exercise that requires heavy group participation and communication (either verbal or group awareness). It allows the group to have to creatively come up with a solution and work together to that end.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Have the students research a character from history and they must move the way their character did in this exercise. (For example: Richard III from Shakespeare could walk/shamble hunched up because of his disfigurement)
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Discuss the most effective methods of communication between members of the group. Journal about what worked and did not work in communicating your intentions to the group.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Numeracy -designing learning experiences which develop spatial concepts, such as proportion, symmetry and distance
  – planning activities to help students learn spatial relationships

 

Technological Literacy – enhancing students’ perceptual abilities and awareness.

 

Personal and Social Values and Skills – having students work co-operatively in paired or small group activities

 

Independent Learning -planning experiences which lead to independent exploration or require students to go beyond what the class lesson provides

 

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Develop self-confidence self-discipline

and self-motivation

– develop a sense of responsibility to other members of the class
  – co-operate with others

 

Acquire understandings and abilities in group processes – begin to practice group decision-making

and problem-solving

 

Develop acting skills – use movement to communicate

nonverbally

 

 

Name of the Activity:  Flocking (Dance principles)

Type of Warmup/Activity: Movement

Reason For Choosing: I really like this movement improvisation because it also fits under the dance theme on top of being a great movement exercise. I have done this with students and they have had a lot of fun with this activity because it is very open ended and they like making their peers do funny movements. Even those that don’t like dance generally enjoy this activity because they can do movements that they like (ex. miming dribbling a ball, pretending to catch a football, etc…). This activity brings many different principles that are core to the heart of many of the other drama activities/ core concepts. It uses mirroring/ shadowing, group awareness, movement/dance principles (I like to include Rudolf Laban’s Effort Theory in this activity in regards to Space, Weight, Flow, and Time of the movements), and non-verbal communication.

Fairly good description- See Effort- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laban_Movement_Analysis

Skills Used: Movement, Dance, Concentration (Listening), Spontaneity, Creativity, Teamwork

Procedure: The easiest way to begin the flocking exercise is by splitting students into groups of four and doing mirroring exercises. Have the students stand in a line behind one another. The first person in line begins the movement with a simple, slow movement (ex. big arm circle). The students behind the leader then mirror this movement in a follow-the-leader fashion. After about a minute the leader switches to the back of the line and a new leader takes over (next in line).

After students understand this and are comfortable moving within the space and with the leader, shift the lines into a diamond pattern (see diagram). Continue the exercise in the follow-the-leader style but instruct the students to shift the leadership by making ninety-degree turns (or 180 to “flip” leadership Ex. Person 1-3) rather than changing positions. This shift (transition) will change the leader to whoever is at the front of the group (Ex. if 1 was the leader and made a ninety-degree turn to their right then person 2 would be at the front of the group and would, therefore, take over leadership). Have the students master this in the same way they did the line formation but include the mastering of the shifts (transitioning of the leader) as well.

  1. If students are having trouble understanding the flocking concept, you could discuss with them what they think flocking means. Once they can understand the biological process of birds flocking and all moving as a unit (as they may have seen within the trees or as the geese fly south for winter), the students may be better able to understand the concept and apply that to their movements within the exercise.
  2. Students can (and most likely will) be placed within the diamond formation once they start working in bigger groups. The students in the center will most likely not take leadership (unless they make their way to the outside) and that is fine as long as they are still mirroring whoever is the leader. Further, more leaders may be needed for larger groups to give variety.
  3. In this activity, I connect the student’s movement to Rudolf Laban’s Effort Theory. This exercise offers a perfect look/ opportunity to include Space, Weight, Flow, and Time into their movements. It also allows them to describe more accurately the moves in which they are doing.

Variations:

  1. Rather than small groups, the entire group comes together to form one giant flock.
  2. This can be done both with and without music. Music can have a very heavy influence on the type of moves the students make.
  3. Make the flock really wide rather than tight together.
  4. Have groups overlap (in close proximity) while still only mirroring their own diamond.

Components:

  1. Creative/ Productive- This activity is based on movement principles and allows the students to improvise using their bodies. It is an active exploration, development, and expression of ideas through dramatic movement.
  2. Cultural/ Historical- Research protests and riots to see how a mob/ group mentality has been used within history to get things accomplished. Research cultural dances to see if there is any flocking within their cultural dances/ practices.
  3. Critical/ Responsive- Discuss what was and was not effective within this movement exercise. Was it easy to follow? Was the entire group mirroring well enough that the leader was hard to distinguish? Journal about what they believed was most effective and what made the task more difficult.

Cross Curricular Competencies (Or Common Essential Learnings):

Communication -introducing drama vocabulary through planned activities which help students focus on what they know and also provide a bridge between students’ real life experiences and their school learning
  -planning lessons and designing assignments that stress the possibility and acceptance of many different ways to organize and/or many potential  answers or explanations
Numeracy -planning activities to help students learn spatial relationships
Critical and Creative Thinking -guiding students’ analysis of their drama experiences in order to deepen their understanding of dramatic art form and of the concepts being explored

Outcomes:                                              Indicators:

Develop self-confidence self-discipline

and self-motivation

– develop a sense of responsibility to other members of the class
  – feel secure in the class

 

Develop an understanding of the processes and elements involved in creating works of dramatic art – offer/ accept ideas in spontaneous improvisations

– understand the importance of the elements of focus, tension, contrast and symbol to all works of dramatic art

Develop acting skills – develop increasing commitment to their own roles and the roles of others
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