Methods Students: Movement in the Classroom. Complete Handout

Kindergarten Suvasana

It becomes increasingly important to me to broaden our view of what it means to think, but also to enlarge our view of what it means to know…

The map is not the territory. In order to draw the map, the territory needs to be known in other ways.

                                                                             ~Elliot Eisner



Of all the arts, drama is the most inclusive, for it involves the participant mentally, emotionally, physically and socially.


                                                                             ~Nellie McCaslin






When I was doing this, I felt like a whole new world: mind, body and spirit.

                                                                                    Natalie, Grade 4



We were coming together, working together… happy…knowing what to do.

                                                                   Sarah, Grade 4


Tableau Inspired by "I Have a Dream" speech

Mask Tableau Grade 5




Yoga With My Buddy –Kindergarten and Seventh Grade


Drama in the Classroom:  A Cultural Tool for Learning

Goals and Objectives:

  1. Activities will continue to build the classroom community.
  2. Children will understand the parts of a story: plot, character, setting, conflict (trouble, trouble, trouble) and message.
  3. Children will understand the tools of body, mind and voice used to tell a story and to create drama/and or theatre.
  4. Students will understand the process of collaboration in the creation and performance of drama.
  5. Children will begin to understand the significance of detail and description in oral stories.
  6. Children will recognize the key moments in their stories through the creation of frozen pictures (tableaux).
  7. Students will make progress in their individual communication skills: observing, listening, moving, concentrating, and vocalizing.
  8. Students will progress in their group skills: decision-making, planning, practicing, spacing necessary to create or perform stories or story fragments and to create characters for a story apart from themselves.
  9. Students will participate in class discussions. Students understand and practice discussions where their behavior and discourse is appropriate to topic, occasion and audience.
  10. Students work in drama –physical and vocal exploration of story —will lead more detailed and clearly sequenced writing.

Goal/Objective for this lesson:

The children will recreate a key moment from Thundercake  in the form of a tableau.

Vocabulary includes: tableau, key moment, composition, focus.


Materials:  Thundercake by Patricia Polacco

Drum, markers and chart paper. Optional digital movie or still camera.



I.          The Opening 

1.   Introductions

2.   Warm up


II.                Story:  Teacher Reads Thundercake by Patricia Polacco to the class.

1.      Announce author and title of book

2.      Read Thundercake urging students to create a “movie in their mind” as the teacher reads aloud.


III.       The Tools


1.      Divide the story into beginning, middle, and ending sections

Use the chart paper and markers to jot down the class outline of the beg/mid/end of the story.

2.      Definition of tableau or frozen picture


Key Moment

1.      Discussion: “What is a key moment?”

2.      Divide into groups of four or five

3.      Assignment: (Given orally and written on chart paper or whiteboard or interactive white board.)

Recreate a key moment from the beginning, middle, or end of Thundercake in the form of a tableau. Be prepared to defend your ensemble’s choice of key moment to the rest of the class.

4.      Rehearsal –5 – 7 minutes.

5.      Sharing of tableaux.


Discussion points



1. Directing “the audience eye”

ü      Facial expression

ü      Eyes

ü      Body position and direction

ü      “Cheating out”



1.      Making it look good

ü      Can you see each character in the tableau?

ü      Do you know who is playing whom in the scene/tableau?

ü      What is the relationship between the people in the tableau?

ü      Where is the trouble, trouble, trouble in the tableau?



1.      What did you see?

2.      What would you like to improve upon?


IV.             Assessment:  Assessment tools include an anecdotal record and videotapes or still digital photographs of each ensemble’s tableaux.


Future classes might include:

  • Adding a ‘caption” to the tableau
  • Expanding the tableau to the “moment before”
  • Consider the tableau as a picture in a newspaper and write your account of what happened that day.
  • String together the different tableaux with narration written by members of the class.
  • Using music to move into and out of the tableau.


  • Transitions

ü      Drum

ü      Slow motion


  • Narration

ü      Adding language

ü      The narrator

ü      Dialogue


  • Scene work

ü      Language through Movement

ü      The narrator

ü      Adding dialogue

Now, it’s your turn.


Take your experience with the tableaux this evening. Working together in your ensemble–


Brainstorm one application for the use of tableaux in your area/grade level of the most interest to you. You can use an assigned unit or lesson for a class, an assignment for a Practicum lesson or something that simply fascinates you. Pick something you care about, some subject or idea that matters to YOU.


Each person will share an idea, but you may gather inspiration and ideas from all of the actors in your respective group.

Suggested Reading:


Coates, Stacey. “Pouring Paint: Using Drama to Address Intolerance.” Stage of the Art, Volume 14, No. 1, pp. 27-30. Discusses a simple and wonderful technique for concretely introducing the concept of tolerance and mutual respect in the classroom.


Gardner, Howard.  Frames of Mind: the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books, 1983.

The author of the Multiple Intelligences Theory.  MI theory explained.


Grady, Sharon.  Drama and Diversity. Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann, 2000. A pluralistic approach to drama in the classroom. Includes analysis of areas of diversity, lesson plans and teaching and planning ideas to create an inclusive environment in the classroom.


*McCaslin, Nellie.  Creative Drama in the Classroom and Beyond, 7th edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

A comprehensive and up to date guide to using drama in the classroom.  The book to start with for Drama in the classroom.  Extensive Bibliography. Chapter 17 is on Process Drama. Highly recommended.


*O’Neil, Cecily and Lambert, Alan.  Drama Structures:   A Practical Handbook for Teachers. London:  Heinemann, 1982.  Shows how to build drama lessons into the core curriculum.


Saldana, Johnny.  Drama of Color:  Improvisation with Multiethnic Folklore.  Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann Publishers, 1995.  Helps teachers  “to use the art form as a method to provide each participant with personal insight into the multi-ethnic world in which we live.” An excellent book with wonderful lesson plans on multi-ethnic stories.


Swartz, Larry S. Drama Themes. Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann Publishers, 1995.

Drama Structures (For K -5) based around various themes including Community, The Past, The Future and Multiculturalism.


Taylor, Philip.  Redcoats and Patriots: Reflective Practice in Drama and Social Studies. Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann Publishers, 1998. An outstanding book about one middle school teacher’s discovery of the power of drama in a social studies classroom. Highly recommended.


Wagner, B.J. Dorothy Heathcote:  Drama as a Learning Medium.   Washington DC:  National Education Association, 1976. (Newly Revised : Portland, ME: Calendar Island Publishers, 1999.)

In the area of Process Drama, practitioners think of Dorothy Heathcote’s work as seminal.  B.J. Wagner clearly illuminates Heathcote’s techniques for her readers. Wagner also has a terrific book on research in drama education.


**Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. and Edmiston, Brian.  Imagining to Learn:  Inquiry, Ethics and Integration Through Drama.  Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann Publishers, 1998. Wilhelm and Edmiston discuss a partnership between a drama specialist and a classroom teacher in detail. Brian Edmiston is an extraordinary teacher and drama specialist. I highly recommend this book.


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