From ‘Drop of a Hat: Drama Lessons’

This is an extract from a lesson plan exploring the value of words and the power of non-verbal communication through a specially-written fable, ‘The King’s Sentence’.


Start with a discussion:

  • What would it be like if words were banned?
  • Can people communicate without speaking?
  • Can the students think of how we use gestures to say yes or no?
  • Mention that gestures vary from place to place, so that nodding or shaking your head can have opposite meanings in different countries
  • Can students think of other gestures we use to communicate?
  • Demonstrate the following gestures and ask the students what they mean
  • Shrug, Wave, Folded arms, Pointing, Prayer hands, Thumbs up/down, Stop (like
    a traffic policeman), Winking
  • Can the students think of gestures for any of the following?
  • Okay, Sssssh! Peace, Love, Help!
  • If the students don’t mention it, you can also talk about Deaf sign language. Ask for any examples that they might know (see below)

Ask a pair of students to stand up. Explain that you would like them to take it in turns to communicate to their partner without using words. In turn, give each of them a phrase to communicate such as:
I’m hungry; I’m sad; I’m tired; I don’t know.
Divide the whole class into pairs. Ask them to take turns in communicating one of the phrases below without using words.
Ask pairs to share what they’ve been doing and see if the others can guess their meaning.

Pleased to meet you
Would you like a drink?
I’d like something to eat
I haven’t got any money
Good luck!
Come here please
I’m confused
I’m angry
Be quiet!
I scored a goal!

Some people use non-verbal communication all the time, for example by using Deaf sign language. Hundreds of different sign languages are in use across the world. In the video above you can see 100 common signs used in British Sign Language.

The above is an extract from a lesson plan in the book by David Farmer.

Drop of a Hat: Drama Lessons, Games and Activities is for any teacher who wants to bring the curriculum to life through drama and creativity. Each lesson is based on a story, poem or theme and divided into bite-sized sections. If you’re looking for a quick fix, just choose a couple of activities. If you’re new to drama, there’s a section at the back describing the games and strategies in detail.

You’ll find approaches for using drama to raise standards in literacy and to explore stories, characters and themes. Topics covered include global warming, looking after pets, dealing with bullying and exploring issues around refugees. There are over a dozen activities for using Drama in Science as well as a lively introduction to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There are activity sheets and cards to accompany many of the activities.

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