Illustration by John Shelley

From ‘Drop of a Hat: Drama Lessons’ arriving January 2021

An interactive storytelling session to explore the plot and characters of Funnybones through a range of drama and movement activities

This lesson plan extract shows how to adapt a classic drama game to explore a story – in this case Funnybones by Janet and Alan Ahlberg. The delightful illustration is by John Shelley, who was commissioned to produce several illustrations for Drop of a Hat Drama.

Explain that the skeletons are going to practise being scary by standing in front of a mirror. Demonstrate the Mirror Game with two students.

The pair should stand facing each other a short distance apart with an imaginary mirror in between. A is the skeleton and B is the reflection. A starts moving slowly and smoothly while B tries to reflect A’s movements as accurately as possible. When they have got the hang of this, give a signal (clap your hands/play a bell) for the players to swap so that A is now the leader.

    • Divide the class into pairs and ask them to label themselves A and B
    • Play the game, emphasising slow movements
    • Swap leadership a few times
    • Give a theme such as morning exercises, getting dressed or singing a song
    • Ask a pair to show what they were doing
    • Give the signal to swap a few times then stop the activity and ask students to guess who is leading at that moment
    • Repeat with more pairs

Teaching Tips

  • When students swap over leadership they should make the change as smoothly as possible so that it is hard for others to guess who is leading!
  • Play some spooky music to help create the atmosphere (I’ve curated some tracks below. If you like these, subscribe to my Spotify Drama Music playlist!)

The above is an extract from a lesson plan in the forthcoming 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.

DROP OF A HAT by David Farmer will be published in January 2021

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