My favorite drama strategy is called Tableau. Tableau is just a french word used in Drama that means "frozen picture". I first teach my students how to express objects, actions or feelings with their bodies individually. So we would stand in a circle and I would call out objects such as "tree" or "chair". The students would use their bodies to become the tree or chair. Once they can do this, we move through feelings and actions such as "happy", "scared", "running", "surfing" etc. When they can do all three with their bodies individually, I teach them how to work in groups to create a frozen picture or Tableau. After these initial lessons teaching them about Tableau, I use this strategy all year. Tableau works great for vocabulary words, stopping to check for understanding during a read aloud, or using a series of Tableaus for retelling a sequence. The uses are endless!
I know that noise can be a deterrent for using Drama in the classroom. That's why Tableau is so great; once the initial group planning of the Tableau is over, the students are quiet and frozen.
You can extend from the frozen picture to have students explain their thinking and what was going on in their scene either orally or in writing. In first grade, we mostly discuss orally but by the end of the year they write as well.
When students are creating Tableaus, they are working collaboratively, employing higher level thinking skills and engaging in learning conversations ( insert other education buzz words here). This strategy also fits in so well with the new Common Core expectations.
Here are a few pictures of my students in Tableaus.
These next two tableaus are during our learning about the jobs of bees. The girls to the left are a nectar flower and the group below are showing the Queen Bee along with her guard bees.
I also wanted to share a video of my students performing Stellaluna in October for another first grade class on our school stage. Notice their concentration while performing; it's amazing!
I've found that my students have a deeper understanding of sequence and characters when acting them out in this way. They have to think about what the characters were doing/ feeling in each scene when they create a tableau.
I hope you can use this strategy in your own classroom! I will be posting more about it throughout the year.