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DRAMA article 2



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May 14, 2018


1. Considering the part " building belief within the drama", what do you think about authentic engagement?

2. What can you tell about authenticity and experiential drama, do you think they are related? If so, why?

    Feel free to discuss other topics related to the article below.

Second Article 

Language of learning through drama

Archana Sinh

We recognise that oral literacy and language skills have been part of most societies from before written text came to be and we know oral and verbal language is acquired before print and written text. Archana Sinh, from the EYC editorial team, discusses the idea that the teaching practices and language used in incorporating drama into a kindergarten setting can be used to support literacy in its widest sense, across a range of learning styles and understandings.

Consider the scenario here (facing page), a very familiar one for anyone working in an early years setting. As we consider the language and techniques these particular children have used to establish and maintain their dramatic play, we can see there is evidence of:

Role play where children take on various roles to suit their story; while they did not clearly state what their role was it was defined by caring for a baby and of being part of a family (which was stated later to the teacher). There is also a shift in the role play from that of a caring person to enacting the baby where child B and child E enact vomiting while saying that the babies were sick. Here they tacitly acknowledged that the sound being made was of the baby doll thus using techniques similar to puppetry.

Building belief within the drama, which indicates that participants or learners have a belief in the drama situation. Here emotional identification with the plot is significant. The play was self-created and the participants collectively held the belief in its basic plot. This authentic engagement was characterised by problem-solving and additions to the narrative.

Improvisation, used as spontaneous responses occurred. Here children have to think like the character they have adopted. 

Movement, where children are adopting body language, position and movement within the play they are creating. This is visible in the gestures of A as she cuts the vegetable with a pretend knife (her hand positioned as a knife), or the way children pick up the babies and walk across the room to go for a walk. Mood, which is being explored in this observation as children set the overall tone of the play to be caring, fun-loving and funny (Bloomfield and Childs (2000) in Crowe 2007). In this play children are engaged in what can be called experiential drama (Parson 1991), where the drama is based on an experience and does not require an external audience to support it; the narrative is created as it progresses. Use of blankets (pretend), setting the environment with purpose by using cushions, cot, table or using the carpet area to swim, use of toy food to set up a birthday party suggests use of some of the elements of drama such as symbols and space to support the children’s ideas. Children manipulate and use language to enhance their experience and their narrative. Children play a character or a role and use language to build their narrative sometimes collectively and at times individually (Swartz (2004) in Crowe 2007).

In the scenario described below a group of girls are defining their own role within a loosely joined common play interest. They come in and out of the common play with ease as they follow their narrative. At times they try to direct the play such as where child C changes sleeping positions by placing herself in the middle of the other two children. Child B and child C negotiate on the play where child C suggests a birthday party, however child B continues on her theme of night in a home. Child A is content to be part of the larger narrative but negotiates her own individual story of feeding and caring for the baby. She joins others in walks or a swim and then moves to her own play.

The context is a familiar one in early years’ settings - a small group of kindergarten aged children in home corner in the time between morning tea and lunch. This home corner is facing the back outdoor area and other than the furniture, wooden baby cots have recently been added. There are dress ups accessible, wooden table and chairs and other kitchen equipment. There is also a collection of play food, plates, cutlery, cushions and fabric that can be used in many ways. Children can move the furniture around. There are four baby dolls in the area. Child A, child B, child E and child C move to home corner to play. Child B and child E take some cushions and lay on them. They pull a purple cloth above themselves as child C stands with a cushion facing them.

Child A sits at the table with a baby in her lap feeding it with a bottle.

Child C: ‘But where do I sleep?’

Child B observes from her side of the pretend bed but says nothing.

Child C picks up her cushion and places it in the middle of the other two girls, both girls move aside to give her space; pulling the purple blanket around all of them results in their feet being uncovered.

There is some wiggling around before child C comments: OK it’s morning now. All this while child A has been feeding her baby with a bottle but stops to join the other girls as they take their babies for a walk to the other side of the room. On getting back child E picks up a clean plastic glass and says: ‘Hey this can be a drink!’

Child B calls out: ‘My baby is going to get sick.’

Child B rushes towards the other side of the room making throwing up noises and then stops to giggle as other children playing look around.

Child E joins her with her baby and makes sound effect of vomiting. Both girls return the babies to the cot.

Child A in the meantime picks up some spring onion toys and sits at the table with her baby. She pretends to cut the vegetables with her hands using the side to imitate a cutting movement. All this while she is talking, possibly to the baby, about what she is doing. During this time child C has been picking up other toy food and placing it neatly on the table. From here she places it on a plate. After completion child C calls out ‘Happy birthday!’ to child B.

Child B: ‘It’s not my birthday, it’s just night time now.’ Child C continuing with her play says: ‘It’s a birthday cake.’ She picks up some more fruit then, picking up an orange and placing it with other fruit, child C says: ‘This goes there.’ At this point child B and child E decide to go for a walk with their babies and child A decides to join them.

They move across the room towards the small carpet area. Child C joins the others with her baby. From here all the babies move to swimming in the ocean. They all giggle and make noises, saying that their babies don’t know how to swim. From here they all laugh and go back to the home corner.

Other possibilities and experiences

In contrast, conventional drama has a distinct audience, there are actors who become characters according to the script, and dialogue is not created, but memorised (Parson 1991). An experience that lends itself to conventional drama in early years is using well known stories such as Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks, initially with the whole group, to collectively narrate the story with the teacher using finger puppets. This can be progressed to inviting children to act the story out to an audience, using props (made by the children themselves) and having the audience call out part of the dialogue. Within such drama based performances children moved from experiential drama to a graded conventional performance in a safe environment. More challenge can be created for older or more confident children; stories such as Jack and the Bean Stalk for example, offer great opportunity to rewrite the ending.

In our setting we extended on this experience by working on a story created by children. We had been reading Room on the broom over a period of some weeks; children then progressed to making popstick puppets based on the story. They acted out the story, each child identifying with one character. This was a more conventional form of drama where the plot was created and the characters were decided within the story. Children adopted their character and were faithful to the narration to the best of their ability. We then decided to create our own story about a witch. For this activity children sat in a semi-circle and once the teacher had given the opening line ‘Once upon a time there was a witch …’ it was left to children to contribute to the story. Each child had a turn if they wished to contribute. Once everyone had a turn the teacher read back the story to the children.  This introduced the idea of creating a script through more formal collaboration.  Other activities that facilitate learning through and about drama can include puppetry, narrative building, chanting, recounting popular stories, improvisations, and dance drama amongst others.

Role of teacher

Teachers play an very important role in all aspects of learning through drama. Within socio dramatic play it is critical to decide what place - if any - can be taken by the teacher. Conflict that will not go away is usually brought to teachers’ attention however at times it might require intervention.

Another choice that teachers can make is to think of the level of authority that they wish to assume and the purpose of doing so within the play. Teachers can at times offer conflict in a scenario by posing challenges, or they can be the facilitator from the outside.They can also play a low status role of a helpless participant where they need assistance and direction from the children. There are endless possibilities within these levels of total authority to no authority, and it is important to be clear about the purpose of the role a teacher adopts. Reflection and discussion of drama with the children should use the language of drama, deepening the dramatic experience by making it one of the languages of learning in a setting.

Teachers can also use techniques such as:

  • hot seating, where a person in the hot seat is asked questions by peers about their character 
  • miming, to tell a story using body language instead of words 
  • freeze frames, where a frozen section of a scene within a story can be introduced to young children as an extension of the musical freeze game
  • meetings, where the teacher (who is in character) calls a meeting between the characters in a whole group scenario. This can be a good way to include children who are otherwise shy as they join the teacher in character. 

Drama is naturally prevalent in early childhood learning settings. It is empowering for learners in a range of ways and its continued inclusion in school age settings should be also be supported. As with most experiences that are child-directed it is important that a teacher provides the space, time and equipment to facilitate them. By documenting this play and reflecting on it with children, and by being intentional about our own response to dramatic play, we support its development as another language of learning. 

REFERENCES Bloomfield, A and Childs, J 2000,Teaching integrated arts in the primary school: dance, drama, music and the visual arts, David Fulton, London. Brown, V 2017, ‘Drama as a valuable learning medium in early childhood’, Arts Education Policy Review, vol. 118, no. 3, pp. 164–171. Abstract retrieved from http://www. tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10632913.2016.1244780? scroll=top&needAccess=true Crowe, SM 2007, Dance, drama and music – a foundation for education: a study on implementing the performing arts in the early years of education, PhD thesis, School of Education RMIT University. Retrieved from https://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/ eserv/rmit:6350/Crowe.pdf Parsons, B 1991, ‘Story-making and drama for children 5–8 years’, in S Wright (ed), The arts in early childhood, Prentice Hall, Sydney, pp. 85-113. Swartz, L 2004, ‘Learning “in role”: drama in education’, in D Booth and M Hachiya (eds), The arts go to school, Pembroke, Ontario.

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01:55 PM May 22 2018


1) i believe it is vital to drama, as it enables students to express themsellves in the best way they can. By having no limitations they can act out whatever they want and don't have to be afraid of making mistakes.

2) i believe they are related because authenticity is a way if expressing yourself, and if the student combines it with experimental drama it improves the experience, because they create something new in a way that suits their thought. This way they can produce original language without having to worry about it being wrong or right.

12:46 PM May 22 2018



1. It is a great thing actually and it is very important in drama because it is a proof which shows us that the learners are 'accepting' their role and not only acting, the are also living it. In my opinion, that is the most important thing in drama. Because only in that case they can throughly enjoy and participate in drama, thus enhancing their learning.

2. Authenticity is learners' language production however they like. They are free. And experiential drama allows learners to improvise, that would lead to authentic language usage. In that case, they would be related as in experiential drama leads a way to authenticity in language production.

02:42 AM May 18 2018


1. Considering the part " building belief within the drama", what do you think about authentic engagement?

When the learner participating in the drama believe in the situation or buy in to their role in other words, they put their themselves in the character's shoes. This, in turn, places the learner to an environment where they feel the urge to contribute to the drama by creating certain notions to the character or the narrative. In short, the way they act or what they say is not predetermined, memorized or rehearsed but created in the spot just like the real life. It manages to make a make-believe environment felt real for the learners which in turns leads to authentic communication.

2. What can you tell about authenticity and experiential drama, do you think they are related? If so, why?

Authenticity and experiential drama are related due to experiential drama environment's leading to authentic language production. Since experiential drama is interested in creating an environment where students are not given lines to memorize but their characters and motives, when they speak it would most likely lead to a authentic use of the target language. Otherwise it would be not much different than Audiolingual Method's rote learning.