5 Creative Back-to-School Drama Activities

By August 2, 2015Blog
If you are new to teaching drama, these activities will help set the tone for a successful drama class experience. If you have been teaching for years, the activities on this list can help you feel inspired by trying something new!
On a typical first day of drama, you’ll want to:

 

  • Introduce yourself and create a sense of excitement/magic
  • Learn names
  • Start to establish trust within the group
  • Introduce an easy performance activity

For each of the above-stated goals, Drama Notebook contains a wealth of ideas and games ranging from classic to new and inventive. Here are five creative drama activities that will help start off your year on a fun and positive note!

Magical Opening

Mystery Music

This opening activity works for a variety of ages (from ages 6-18 or older). It’s a whole-group activity that allows students to open to their own creativity while appreciating each other’s differences.

KK-mouse birthday party

How to Play!

Have students enter as atmospheric music is playing (list of examples below). Invite players to listen to the music and imagine what kind of place they are in and to move as if they are in that place. 

Say!

Really listen to the music and imagine that you are in a specific place. Move as if you are exploring that place, really seeing everything around you, smelling the air and touching things in this place if you wish. You can be anywhere, real or imaginary. Let the music tell you where you are. Be aware that there are others here in this place with you, but focus on your own experience, the sights and sounds.

After a few minutes, form a sitting circle either in chairs or on the floor. Have students go around the room and saying their names and what places they were imagining. After everyone has had a chance to share, point out that they have already been acting and that each person had a different experience, yet there were no right or wrong answers.

Ask!

 

  • What did you notice?KK-buttons book bird
  • Were any of the ideas the right answer?
  • Were any of the ideas wrong answers?
  • What value does an activity like this have in drama class?

Examples of Music: 

Mussorgsky “Night on Bald Mountain”
Pictures from an Exhibition
Dukas the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
Saint Saens “Danse Macabre” and “Carnival of the Animals”

Name Game

Secret Talents


This activity allows students to learn each other’s names while learning something interesting about each person.

Divide the class into pairs by having them pull numbers out of a hat, or finding the person closest to their own height (organically, in other words). Next, have students tell each other their name and a secret talent or interesting hobby they have. Then have the students introduce their partner by name and describe their secret talent to the rest of the class!

Trust Building Games

I Can’t Go a Day Without

This game also helps reinforce learning each other’s names.KK-art show

Have students stand in a wide circle, with plenty of room in the center. One at a time, invite students to step into the circle and say their name and complete this sentence, “I can’t go a day without_______________.” Anyone who shares that in common with the student in the center, must join him/her inside of the circle.

Encourage students to share unique information about themselves. Instead of saying, “My name is Cole, and I can’t go a day without video games,” he may say, “My name is Cole and I can’t go a day without going for a long run.” Anyone else who runs daily would join Cole in the circle.

Ask students to notice who is in the circle with them, and to celebrate in some way, such as: high-five; group hug; dancing a jig; cheering; etc.

All students then step out of the circle and another (self-selecting) student enters the circle with a new statement. Make a rule that there are no repeats. This helps students deeply think about what is unique to them and leads to more personal sharing and a stronger bonding experience.

Me in a Bag

(This would be better described as a second-day activity as it requires a small bit of homework.)

Give each student a paper lunch sack and ask them to bring it back the next day with a personal item of significance in it. Ask students to choose items that are unique (no cell phones, etc.) and that truly say something about themselves without being too revealing. For instance, one student may bring in a fountain pen because he/she likes to write poetry.

Divide the class in half and ask one group to place their bags on a table. Allow the second group to go up to the table and choose a bag at random. Next, ask the students to circulate and find the owner of the item. Tell students that the owner of the item must tell a story related to the item that explains its significance.

In pairs, ask students to go up in front of the class and introduce their partner and re-tell the story.

Repeat the game with the other half of the class!

Performance Game

World’s Worst Auditions

This is an excellent first-day-drama activity if you have time for all of your students to have a turn. In this game, students will be performing, but they will be doing so KK-woman dancing with catwithout feeling pressure to be a ‘good actor,’ and the point of this game is really to give students a positive experience of performing on their first day of drama. It should result in a lot of laughter and ease any tension that the more reluctant students in your group will be feeling.

After you’ve done a name-game and an ensemble-building game, tell students that they will be doing their first bit of performing, but they don’t need to worry, because the point of the activity is to not be any good!  Tell students that the name of the game is ‘World’s Worst Auditions,’ and that in a moment, each student will receive sides (which are short scripts used for auditions).

How to play:

Distribute sides to all students (available for members of Drama Notebook). In pairs, ask students to take the stage. One person is the reader. That person merely reads the line without a lot of emotion or inflection—there is no pressure to perform. The other person’s job is to act his/her part badly. It’s up to each student as to how he/she accomplishes this. The student may elect to be extremely quiet. He/she may cough throughout the audition. He/she may continually apologize or fidget, etc. Tell students to try not to repeat what has already been done…to come up with something new.

Allow students to self-select when playing this game and announce that everyone will have a chance to play the reader and the actor who is auditioning. After a student plays the actor auditioning, he/she becomes the new reader, and so on.

Get the full version of this activity here:

World's Worst Auditions

Want more?

Drama Notebook is packed with original, innovative lessons that are easy to implement right away. Here are more activities that will help you get your year off to an exciting start!

52 Back to school drama activities

Janea Dahl
Creator and Author at Drama Notebook

Janea has a BA in theatre, and spent twelve years working in professional theatre. She was the founder of The Young Players www.theyoungplayers.com, the largest drama outreach program in her state. For nearly a decade, The Young Players served over a hundred schools, and employed over twenty teaching artists. Thousands of public school children and teens participated in her award-winning workshops each year.

In 2012, Janea sold Young Players to Northwest Children’s Theatre and School to serve teachers full-time on Drama Notebook. Read more


Janea Dahl

About Janea Dahl

Janea has a BA in theatre, and spent twelve years working in professional theatre. She was the founder of The Young Players www.theyoungplayers.com, the largest drama outreach program in her state. For nearly a decade, The Young Players served over a hundred schools, and employed over twenty teaching artists. Thousands of public school children and teens participated in her award-winning workshops each year.
In 2012, Janea sold Young Players to Northwest Children’s Theatre and School to serve teachers full-time on Drama Notebook. Read more

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