Drama across the curriculum

Alison Chaplin

Alison Chaplin is the Manager of Arts On The Move, a company providing drama support for schools, including great Shakespeare workshops and play adaptations for KS2 and KS3.

Website: www.artsonthemove.co.uk Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Many people think that drama is just about improvisation, or performing, but it is actually a powerful teaching tool that can inspire learning across the curriculum. Drama and literacy have always been cosy bedfellows – theatre and plays are the performance arm of drama and are often a natural progression to its processes. Many drama lessons use literary texts – poems, letters, quotations – as a stimulus and writing in role is a recognised and valuable aspect of drama work. But the value of drama as a teaching tool expands across the curriculum and can help children to explore and understand a wide range of themes, issues and subjects.

I know of a drama teacher who delivers workshops to aid children’s understanding of maths – using role play to develop problem-solving skills. On his great website (www.dramaresource.com), David Farmer promotes his fabulous workshop that explores Evacuees and also runs a course covering ‘Drama Across the Curriculum’ for primary teachers. History is rich with stories, great events and social commentary that feeds into drama like no other subject. In her Drama Workshops for Young People (www.creative-training.org), drama specialist Hilary Lewis offers children a journey back in time to the Ancient Egyptians and the Valley of the Kings – where children get to explore the Legend of Tutankhamen and hear all about the curse of his tomb!

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Peter Kennedy (www.peterkennedy.net), one of the most experienced and respected drama teachers, offers a huge range of drama workshops covering subjects as diverse as The Great Fire of London, Romans and Rainforests! On his website, Andrew McCann (www.dramateachers.co.uk) has a great drama lesson plan on The Sea. There are now even drama workshops exploring the Olympics – www.olympicdrama.co.uk - and my most bizarre request came in the form of being asked to create a drama workshop about the water cycle. Admittedly I took the ‘easy’ way out and wrote the lesson as a short play, where the children became clouds, the sun, rivers, streams, etc., but it’s still one of my proudest moments – and I bet those children will never forget how the water cycle works!

The joy of drama is that it can enable children to be anyone, to go anywhere, to see anything, to experience, understand, explore and empathise with cultures, people and events that are way beyond the reach of ‘normal’ teaching methods. In that, and every respect, it’s the most valuable and powerful teaching tool there is.

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