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What is drama? Does it necessarily involve putting on a play? Does it even require this as a goal? I think that for teachers working with children learning English an important task is to engage children emotionally. I also think it is worth remembering that drama involves more than body movements. This time around here are a few activities that focus on voice.

Who took it? One player places a personal item on the table and then leaves the room. Another player takes the item and keeps it hidden. The first player returns and accuses everyone in turn of taking the item. For example, “You took my key!” in turn every player denies this, “No I didn’t!” After accusing everyone the first player tries to guess who took the object by naming the player, “ I think, (name) took it”. Everyone chants “No!” until the player guesses correctly.

This is a pen! In the classic game charades players take turns miming occupations, animals, book and film titles etc. In this game players take turns portraying feelings. Use a set of feelings flashcards. It can be fun to use duplicates. One player takes a card and tries to convey the matching feeling. The player does not mime and is limited to a single sentence, “This is a pen”. The player should hold up a real pen and present it while speaking.

Silly Conversation Players get into groups of 5. Each group uses a pack of cards. One player becomes dealer. Dealer removes the aces and gives one to each player to show which suit the player has. Each player picks up an object. Flashcards will do but objects are better. The dealer shuffles the cards and then turns them over slowly one at a time. A player names their object every time their suit appears (e.g. “This is a pen!”). More able students can make a sentence about their object. An optional rule is for the dealer to swap places with a player whenever a court card comes up. With less than four players simply ignore cards if no one has that suit. If possible, and desired, record the conversation and then allow participants to listen to it.

Say it again! This is similar to Silly Conversation but is played in pairs. Players agree on a sentence to say. One player becomes the speaker and the other takes a pack of cards and becomes a dealer. The speaker says the sentence and the dealer turns over a card and gives an instruction to the speaker as follows:

spades: “slower”
clubs: quieter
hearts: “louder”
diamonds: “faster”

The speaker repeats the sentence following the instructions of the dealer. When the dealer turns over a court card the players swap roles.

! and ? Get three sheets of paper. Write ! on one ? on another and leave the last one blank. Show the children a flashcard they will know. When they name the flashcard place it next to the question mark. See if anyone can say the word with questioning intonation. If not, do it yourself. Repeat the process with the exclamation mark. When they have the idea you can go review some vocabulary by placing flashcards at random on each sheet of paper. If you put a card on the blank piece of paper the card should be named in a very flat way. Using and exclamation and question marks are also a fun way to liven up reading practise.

February 2006
(All Together Now column in Teachers Learning with Children
The Newsletter of the JALT Teaching Children SIG)

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