Drama Lessons for Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 based on The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (Macmillan 1999).



Learning objectives (linked to objectives from the Primary Framework for Literacy and Mathematics):

  • Use language to imagine and recreate roles and experiences
  • Explore familiar themes and characters through improvisation and roleplay
  • Act out well-known stories, using voices for characters

Gruffalo Drama Activities

Below are some simple ways to use drama activities to enhance a storytelling session.

Meet a Creature

Begin by reading the first part of The Gruffalo to the children up until the end of the first meeting with the fox. Show them the pictures and discuss the story with them as usual. Now you are going to introduce the techniques of Teacher in Role and Hot-seating. No acting skills are required, you simply talk to the children as if you were a character. This is only a small step from reading the story aloud.

Show the children the double page spread before the title page and ask them what creatures they can see there (a butterfly, a beetle and a woodpecker.) Ask them what questions they would put to any of these characters if they met them, about what has happened in the story. Explain that you are going to pretend to be one of these creatures and that you are going to show when you are pretending to be the character by putting on a special hat (or other piece of token costume). You can choose which of the three creatures to be.

Step away from your chair and put on the hat (a baseball cap might suit the woodpecker). Sit down again and begin by saying ‘hello’ as the character. You do not need to act, or to move in a special way or even use a particular voice. Simply give the point of view of that character and his or her feelings.

You can give the children clues about who you are by telling them where you live and what you have seen. Encourage them to find out who you are and to pose questions about what you have seen. Ask pupils questions too. In this way you can encourage the children to recap on the story so far by questioning them about why the fox ran away. It’s up to you how much detail you ask for. You could finish by quoting the mouse’s words:

Silly old Fox! Doesn’t he know,
There’s no such thing as a gruffalo?

Then simply say goodbye and remove the hat to signify that you are stepping out of role. You can continue in this way through the story, taking different roles, including the fox, the owl, the snake, the mouse and the Gruffalo.

Funny Faces

Explore facial expressions of characters at various points in the story. Invite the children to stand in a circle. Explain that they are going to use their faces to show how characters felt at different times in the story. Choose a character and a moment, for example the fox when he first met the mouse. Count downThree-Two-One and clap your hands or shake a tambourine as a signal for them to make the face. You can pick out some of the expressions to show the others. How would they describe the feelings being shown on other pupils’ faces? Then choose a different moment/animal, for example the fox when he sees the Gruffalo.

These drama activities are taken from Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years by David Farmer. The complete Drama Unit includes such activities as Sounds of the Forest, Exploring the Woods, Story Moments, Meet the Mouse, Gruffalo’s Footsteps, Meet the Gruffalo and Advice Line.

The Gruffalo Drama Unit (4-7 years)
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