Sunday, January 14, 2018


Although I am primarily a musician, I try my best to integrate all art forms into my curriculum. Returning from Christmas break, I always teach a lesson on drama to most of my grade levels (2nd-5th). We explore pantomime. This is a great follow-up for our Nutcracker unit because ballet dancers must use pantomime to communicate on stage when they are not dancing.

When I introduce pantomime, I first perform a scene by myself from a familiar story--Snow White.  My students must watch for clues and guess the story

I enter a cottage, am shocked at the filth, and start cleaning. Then I yawn and take a nap. I wake up to greet the 7 dwarves. I stand tall and bend over to shake their hands. There is a knock at the door. I greet the guest, accept the apple, take a bite, and die.

We discuss what actions and facial expressions were good clues and what other stories they may have thought were a possibility. Then, I divide the class into groups of 5-6 to pantomime a story together. I have created story cards with familiar fairytales and nursery rhymes. Each group draws 3 cards and then selects one to act out.

They usually have about 15-20 minutes to rehearse together. I ask that their performance be 2 minutes or less. During the last 5-10 minutes, I allow them to choose props that are essential to telling the story. Scarves are very versatile and become costumes or scenery. Other common props include: chairs, stuffed animals, and random objects around the room.

I save the last 15 minutes of class for the group performances and discussions. I encourage good audience behavior while each group is performing. I created a rubric to assess the performance.

This lesson is a great success with students of all ages. Students love the opportunity to explore their dramatic and creative sides. The 17 page Powerpoint, 24 story cards, lesson plan, and performance rubric are available for download on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I'm certain your students will enjoy this lesson as well!

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