Drama can provide children with a meaningful purpose for writing. Pupils become motivated to communicate through emotional identification with characters and their issues. The physical context of drama can particularly inspire boys’ writing, especially if they are encouraged to express themselves verbally. You don’t need to wait until you get back to the classroom to write. Writing even short phrases and words in the same space as the drama is more immediate than trying to recreate the feelings and ideas back at the desk. Use a variety of writing media such as post-its, clipboards, mini-whiteboards, notebooks, index cards, slips of paper and graffiti sheets.
Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years
This article is an extract from Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years by David Farmer available in paperback and Kindle.
Writing in role is particularly motivating for children and can cover a range of purposes and audiences – from a diary entry about an event pupils have just “experienced” through improvisation, to letters from WWII evacuees to their mothers or a list of provisions required for an expedition. Children writing in different roles can help to represent varied points of view of the same dramatic situation.
Tip: If children are feeling inspired it can be helpful to record what they say in the heat of the moment by scribing it or using audio or video recorders.
Writing in or out of role can include letters, postcards, journals, reportage, interviews, advertisements, poetry, petitions, secret messages, treasure maps, captions, newspaper headlines and so on. Improvised drama is an exciting way of collectively devising a plot that can lead on to the writing of stories, monologues or play scripts. Words and phrases written during drama activities can be compiled into a group poem back in the classroom. Any reflective writing will deepen involvement in the drama and can lead on to further improvisation, artwork and other activities.
Writing done during the session can feed back into the make-believe. Messages can be delivered to characters (children or teacher in role) and instructional treasure maps can be tried out. If combining drama with outdoor learning then notes can be left under a stone for the Gruffalo to collect or writing can be done on clipboards to describe fantastic treasures (natural objects) discovered in the woods.