How to Teach Your First Drama Class
When teaching drama, creating a sense of trust among members of your class or troupe is essential to bringing out each student’s highest creativity. The following drama icebreakers are designed to help your group build ensemble while creating a sense of shared experience. Don’t worry about which one of these will work best, instead, choose activities that appeal to you.
The Line Game
This drama game is on video in Drama Notebook!
This is a great first class icebreaker. Come up with a list of ways for students to line up. Call them out one after another, but tell students that they cannot speak to one another. This is a silent game! When the line is finished, go along the line checking their accuracy. Make comments if something stands out. For instance, if a student has 25 pets, bring her up in front of the class and ask about them. Stopping every once in a while to ask questions or point something out helps kids learn more about each other.
Ways to line up:
- “Line up according to height. Tallest on this end, shortest on this end, go!”
- “Line up according to your birthday. January on this end, December on this end, go!”
- “Line up according to number of brothers and sisters. Most on this end, least on this end, go!”
- “Line up according to the number of pets you have. Most on this end, least on this end. Fish count, but dead pets don’t!”
- “Line up according to how many video games you own. Most on this end, least on that end. Go!”
- “Line up according to how far you’ve traveled from home in your life. Longest distance on this end, shortest on that end. Go!”
- “Line up according to the number of books you’ve read. Most on this end, least on that end. Go!”
Or try this!
Divide the students into two equal groups. Announce an order that you wish them to line up in, first group to finish their line correctly wins.
Big Wind Blows
(Ideally requires chairs or some way of marking places). Someone in center declares something that is true about themselves. For example: “A big wind blows for everyone who loves to sing.” Then, everyone who loves to sing must run from their place and find a new place. Someone is then stuck in the middle again.
Or try this!
From One Side to the Other
This drama game is on video in Drama Notebook!
One of the challenges with “Big Wind Blows” is that everyone is so concerned with finding another spot that they often don’t notice who shares their interests. Try having the class stand on one end of the playing space. One person goes to the other side and declares something that is true about them. Anyone who shares their interest joins them. players notice who is with them and who is left behind. This version of the game lacks the frenetic energy of the traditional “Big Wind Blows,” but it allows participants to actually get to know the other players (which is the point of the original game).
The Interview Game
Have students pair up with someone who they don’t know very well. Instruct students to take turns interviewing their partners for just a few minutes. Here are some sample questions (for younger kids, give no more than three):
- What is your name?
- What is your favorite hobby?
- What is your least favorite food?
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
- What is your favorite movie?
- What are you afraid of?
- What is your favorite season and why?
- If you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you take with you?
- If you could only have one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Encourage students to try and discover and remember as many details as possible. After they’ve interviewed each other, students can take turns in pairs going up onstage and introducing their partner. This is a great way to get kids to stand up in front of each other right away, while simultaneously allowing audience members to learn more about their classmates.
Create a huge outline of the US with rope or blue tape. One at a time, invite kids to stand approximately where the state they were born in is! If they were born out of the country, they must stand outside the US in the direction of their country.
Or try this!
- Human map showing the farthest you have traveled.
- Map of where most of their ancestors come from.
- Arts integration unit-kids are assigned a country in Europe or Africa or South America. They form a people map of that country. One at a time, they can leave their country and “explore” other countries. Kids have to come up with a statement about their country if the explorers ask!
Kids move about the space. When you chime a bell or clap your hands, they must find someone who “has the same favorite color!” Then keep going.
- Favorite flavor of ice cream
- Favorite holiday
- Favorite food
- Favorite season
- Favorite animal
- Favorite TV show
If kids do not find a partner, they must shout out their “favorite” before you start the kids moving on to the next one.
Story of Your Name
One at a time in a circle, players take turns telling the story of their names. If a player does not know the story, or if it is something they do not wish to share, they can lie!
Add to it!
- Story of your pet’s name
- Story of your nickname
- Story of your online name or gamer name
- What you would want to name your children and why
Sun or the Moon
Put kids in a in a single line in the middle of the playing space (like a recess line). They will be asked if they are “the sun, or the moon?” They move to one side of the playing space for “sun” and the other side for “moon.”
Say, “Use your imagination. There are no right and wrong answers.” Encourage students to simply choose which of the two best describes them. After the choice is offered, kids will move into two lines, to the right or left of the original line. Allow students ONE chance to stay in the middle; that means that they are equally SUN and MOON, or whatever the choice was. If you are working with a smaller group or have extra time, you may wish to invite random students to explain their choices throughout the game.
Ideas for choices!
- Sun or moon
- Hammer or nail
- Racket or ball
- Banana or candy bar
- Child or old man
- Jeans or a suit
- Egg white or egg yolk
- Dog or cat
- Cube or ball
- Present or future
- Rock group or string quartet
- Yes or no
- Mountain or valley
- Teacher or student
- Question or answer
- Leather jacket or sweatshirt
- Black or white
- Leaf or wind
- Pencil or eraser
- Earthquake or snowstorm
- Tortoise or hare
- City or country
- Dictionary or picture book
- Ice cream or cake
- TV or Radio
- Present or Future
World’s Greatest Questions
In pairs, kids take turns asking one of these questions that you have written on the board or handed out on a piece of paper. Then they switch partners. They can ask a different question each time they change partners, or they can keep asking the same question! These are also available ready to print in a document in LISTS “Interview in Pairs Questions.”
- If you were to choose a new name, what would it be?
- If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- If you could turn into an animal right now, what would you be and why?
- If you had a million dollars, what is the first thing you would buy?
- What is the greatest thing that ever happened to you?
- If you had one wish, what would you wish for…except more wishes?
- If you could have one magical power, what would it be?k
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