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Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the unit you will be able to:

1. Outline the objective of teaching drama to children. 2. Discuss the importance of drama to childrens development. 3. Identify the different types of childrens drama. 4. Plan a dramatic activity with children.


Introduction Dramatic arts education is an important means of stimulating childrens creativity and imagination. It can be taught as a creative drama project or drama/theatrical performance in school. In each area of dramatic activity children are encouraged to create their own action, dialogue, sound effects and props. The focus is not on the performance but on the nurturing of childrens ability to express their ideas in a supportive environment (Raines and Isbell, 2003) This unit will focus on several types of creative drama and drama, and its benefits and teaching methods that teachers could use to help children develop a positive and confident self image.


Benefits of drama:

Drama assists in the development of:

Creative self expression

Psychological growth especially in self control, discipline and self esteem

Communication skills and understanding others in new ways Aesthetic appreciation Collaborative and team oriented skills. Tolerance and empathy

Self assessment:

State and discuss the importance of teaching drama to children.


Creative Drama

Creative drama is the informal activity in which children are guided by a leader to express themselves through the medium of drama. It is a spontaneous play of children. Creative drama is not rehearsed. It is a reflection of the childs experience, real or imagined. Creative drama activities encourage children to recall personal, sensory-rich experiences and select dramatic actions to express these images. Language development is enhanced during creative drama

especially with younger children. Through drama they learn to use words to express their ideas and expressions.

Examples of creative play

Every-day Olympics:

In small groups, invite players to come up with an everyday activity such as washing the car, or eating spaghetti. Invite players to turn these ordinary activities into incredible feats by acting out the activity as if they were in the Olympics. They may wish to have two sportscasters, two competitors, and two on-the-field reporters.

Pet Show:

Kids get into pairs. One person is the pet owner. The other person is the pet. They decide what the pet will be, come up with a name and a trick. The owner leads the pet on, introduces her and the animal performs. Then they take turns! If you have one extra person, he can play the judge. He could judge the show, ask the owners questions about their pets and decide which pet is the winner.

Source : 11.4 Drama in Education

Drama in education includes improvisation/lets pretend, role plays, mime, puppet plays, performance poetry, pantomime, storytelling, childrens theatre and readers theatre.


Pantomime is the use of movement and gestures to express ideas or feelings. Communication is through actions and not words. Pantomime can provide a safe and initial experience for children with drama. They can begin pantomiming with simple actions such as walking on the moon and later advanced into more complicated characters. With each positive experience they build their confidence. They are willing to take risks, try out roles and make suggestions for improvement (Raines and Isbell, 2003).

Suggestions for the classroom

Some examples that teachers can ask students to pantomime:

Eating different food such as spaghetti, hot cereal, pizza, gigantic bread Visiting a grocery store A sequence of event such as playing soccer, ballet class baseball game.

Teachers can encourage other students to discuss what their friends are pantomiming.

Improvisation/Lets Pretend

Landy (1982) defines improvisation as an unscripted, unrehearsed, spontaneous set of actions, in response to minimal directions from a teacher. The focus is thus on identifying with characters, enacting roles and entering into their inner experience of imagination and fantasy.


John Dougill (1987) defines mime as "a non-verbal representation of an idea or story through gesture, bodily movement and expression". Mime emphasizes the paralinguistic features of communication. It builds up the confidence of learners by encouraging them to get up and do things in front of one another.

Role play

school exploring

In role play the participants are assigned roles which they act out in a given scenario. After rehearsal, the play is performed for the class, or parents. According to Blatner (2002) role play is a method for the issues involved in complex social situations.


of our Malay can be puppets Some and finger

Children love puppets. They use puppets to say and do things that they may feel too inhibited to say or do themselves. The design and use puppets has been influenced greatly by culture. Examples of such puppetry drama are the ornate Chinese shadow puppets, wayang kulit and the African rod puppets. The puppet show carried out on stage or off stage. There are different types of based on the materials used and how they are controlled. examples are string puppets, hand puppets, paper puppets, and rod puppets.

Childrens theatre

Childrens theatre is a performance of a play written by a playwright and acted out by a group of adults or children. It is a formal presentation with the primary purpose of entertaining. Scenes and costumes are used in this type of drama that the actors and actresses will have practiced, rehearsed and performed. It is not suitable for young children.

Readers Theatre. Readers theatre is a minimal theatre in support of literature and reading. Readers theatres are for older children who can read fluently. There are many styles of readers theatre, but nearly all share these features:

Narration serves as the framework of dramatic presentation.

No full stage sets. If used at all, sets are simple and suggestive. No full costumes. If used at all, costumes are partial and suggestive, or neutral and uniform. No full memorization. Scripts are used openly in performance. Source:

Self assessment

1. 2.

What is the difference between creative drama and drama in education? Discuss the 3 types of drama activities that can be carried out in class.


Planning a Drama Activity

Teachers need to consider several factors while planning a drama activity. The following steps enable teachers plan a drama activity in class:




Before beginning a creative drama activity, students need to understand what they are doing. Teachers can use story books or to help them plan the activity with the children.


Presentation of story


Teachers can start by reading the story using his or her voice to make it more exciting, allowing at the same time, students to repeat that are interesting to them.


Plan of action


After listening, both teacher and students can start to make a plan of action on how to act out the story. Discussion followed by reviews both teachers and students are important. Let your students

volunteer for sequence of the

the acting parts and continue with the discussion of the play.


The teachers role

Teachers can have three roles: Side coach Participate in drama Member of the audience



The drama begins. It is important to allow the students to be as creative as possible and to keep the playful spirit of the drama.


Closing and Evaluation

Evaluation is important because students will want to discuss about their experiences. Questions related to objectives of the play may be asked. Bringing closure to the activity is important as it helps bring the students to reality and home.


Play and Replay

students to

Repeat the planning process, acting and evaluation with another part of the story and with a different set of students. This allows other revisit the story in a different way.

Self assessment

Plan a puppetry drama based on the steps above.


Drama in education is a powerful teaching and learning tool with profound positive effects on a student's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. The benefits of regular theatre arts instruction spill over into all school subjects and everyday life. Creative drama is sound pedagogy that reaches students of multiple intelligences and different learning styles. It is a multi-sensory mode of learning that engages mind, body, senses, and emotions to create personal connections to the material that improve comprehension and retention.


Brewer, J. A. (2001). Introduction to Early Childhood Education. Massachusettes: Pearson. Mayesky, M. (2012). Creative Activities for Young Children. Belmont: Wadsworth. Raines, R. T. (2003). Creativity and the Arts with Young Children. Canada: Thomson.