It’s difficult to think of a suitable name for the workshops that we do, I’m not a big fan of calling them ‘theatre in the classroom’ as this conjures up images of Shakespeare, putting on plays, learning lines, public speaking, anxiety and stage fright (which after years of performance I still suffer from - especially the few minutes before walking on stage)
The online dictionary Merriam-Webstater defines ‘dramatise’ as 'to present in a way that attracts attention’ and I’d like to think that how my classes are (well, that’s what I try to do)
A way to dip your toes into the world of theatre is to use ‘drama-games’ - they are a great tool for a whole multitude of reasons. Firstly, for the teacher they are easy to implement and you can use these practical techniques to enhance creativity and learning English across the curriculum, help to encourage students to work together and most importantly play and have fun.
When working with a group or class, I always start with some type of warm up to signal to them that you’re - there are tons of ideas on the internet, but the ones here are the activities I’ve found that work especially well for students learning English as a second language.
Keep fit with Froggy
This pop-up book by Ruth Tilden makes a fantastic warm up exercise and is probably one of my all-time favourites.
Age - 5+
Level - A1
Language covered - Body parts and simple instructions.
Cross-curricular. Physical education
Ask students to describe what's on the front of the book, what Froggy's wearing/doing/why he's doing exercises. Then explain to the class that they're going to do the same things as Froggy and after every exercise Froggy asks "Can you do X like Froggy" and the class chorally replies "Yes I can". Go through each page and show Froggy doing the exercise, as it's a pop-up book the students can see what they've got to do.
Similar to what happens with the puppets, I’ve found that the students are always happier and more enthusiastic about following what Froggie does, rather than doing the activities without the book. I’m really not sure why that is - the fun element? the surrealness of the situation? me doing the exercises too? Whatever it is…it works a treat!