Simple drama activities

Most of the activities listed below are not directly related to teaching drama skills but are simple strategies to help pupils engage with an object, artwork or archive material.

Even if you are not confident with drama, these activities mainly involve the children taking responsibility for their learning.

A few things which are worth considering with regard to using drama and role play:

  • Where possible, it is very helpful if pupils are able to warm-up before using these strategies (this may be as simple as asking them to walk around the room starting, stopping and changing direction as you say so; playing ‘Simon says’ or making strange and mysterious statues)
  • It’s helpful to give pupils key words to listen to – e.g. ‘action’, ‘freeze’, ‘relax’
  • If you are taking on any sort of role, it is essential to use a physical marker e.g. ‘When I’m wearing this cap, I’m George the builder from this painting’ or ‘When I wrap this shawl around me, I am the owner of this object’. When you are not playing that role, remove the physical marker – it makes it much less confusing for pupils – and for yourself!
Freeze frames

  • Freeze frames are still images or silent tableaux used to illustrate a specific incident or event.
  • Freeze frames can be brought to life (e.g. through flashwords and flashbacks) or used as the basis for thought tracking.
  • They might be constructed by directly copying the poses of people in an artwork or by exploring a situation or process which leads to this ‘freeze’ moment.

Thought tracking

  • This explores private thoughts of characters at particular moments .
  • One method is for other pupils to say what is in a character’s head (in their words) during a small group freeze frame.
  • Another option is, when the whole group is frozen, the leader touches selected characters on their shoulder. When touched, they speak what their character is thinking or feeling at moment.
  • Either way, it is essential to give children thinking time before expecting answers.


There are several options for how to do this.

  • The leader might be in the hot seat or children may take turns (or a combination of both).
  • Whoever is in the hot seat takes on the role of person or object.
  • They might speak a sentence as their person/object.
  • They might answer questions from others.

Flashforwards and flashbacks

These strategies encourage focus on consequences of actions and may build on from freeze frames, thought tracking and/or hot seating:

  • “What happened 5 minutes before this picture?”
  • “What happened an hour later?”
  • Simulating using a remote control can encourage discussion.

Conscience alley

  • This is a helpful strategy for developing opposing views on how to resolve a situation or make a decision.
  • The class creates 2 lines facing each other.
  • One child in role as a particular character walks down the “alley”.
  • Children voice the character’s thoughts, both for and against a decision or action.
  • The child in role listens as he/she walks along the “alley” and decides at the end. They may say which arguments swayed them..

“Mantle of the expert”

  • Based on what they know already from their own experience and from examination of the object or artwork, children act as if they are the expert and can speak knowledgeably about it or answer questions.
  • This may be developed by ‘drip feeding’ items or information into the process.
  • Generally pairs or small groups of children are the most effective way to organise pupils for this activity, although they could all join together in a ‘committee’ / ‘village meeting’ to share thoughts.

Leader in role

  • The workshop leader can take on the role of a character from an artwork or the owner of an object.
  • They may have prepared what to say in character, improvise answers to questions from children or a mixture of both.

Paired improvisation

  • Pairs are given a dilemma or situation, perhaps based on an artowrk, object or archive material.
  • They explore what their responses (verbal and movement) might be to that situation, if they were characters involved or experts discussing it.
  • The pairs may perform their response to another pair or group and receive feedback about the responses. They may then ‘re-run’ the situation, based on this feedback.