Make a drama out of IT! Online tools to support using drama techniques in primary schools

There are many tools available online which can help to support the teaching of drama, or the use of drama techniques in teaching, in the primary classroom. The following drama teaching techniques have suggested online tools shown for each:

Using Online story texts for “Hot-seating” or “Dilemma Debate”

Make use of texts online, as starting points for:
Hot-seating” – pupils read story then each takes a character and when interviewed by other pupils take on the role of that character and improvise answers based on their understanding of that character.
Dilemma Debate” – at turning points in stories, where a decision has to be taken, split the class into two groups with each group arguing case for one decision choice, each pupil in turn giving their view to the pupil who has taken on the character role.

Online texts:

Lit2Go – select stories by reading age – stories here are available free to download in print version and audio mp3 files, and also include teaching notes to accompany each story.

Signed Stories – stories read aloud and signed

Scots Poems read by children – text and audio files

Story Time for Me – stories for children read by actors and with word by word highlighting of text.

Books Should Be Free – online children’s texts with audio

Free Audio Books – downloadable texts along with audio mp3 files for each book.

DebateItOut – a moderated site where topics can be debated online – or alternatively a topic from there can be used as a prompt for in-class dilemma debate.

DramaMap from Read,Write,Think – for a tool which cna be used to build up details of a character, or plot, on-screen use

Word Starter – “Thought Shower”, “Body Language”, “Facial Expression”, “Freeze-Action”

Each pupil to use Body Language and Facial Expression to develop four freeze-action mimes that illustrate a chosen word. Prior to undertaking this activity the pupils might use a mind-mapping program or diagram tool (such as Popplet or free online tools like Wallwisher or Primary Wall which let you, and multiple users where desired, create sticky notes on-screen with ideas generated by pupils) to select words and find out what each word means, or in what different contexts they can it be used. Use online tools to search for words in context or synonyms with online reference websites:

Word, Name sentence or Phrase Generator – free online tool to let you randomly generate words, sentences, names or phrases

Imagination Prompt Generator lets you randomly generate sentences

Lingro is a free online tool which lets users access any website and, when clicking on any word, the chosen word links to a definition and audio of that word spoken aloud.

Cool Tools for Word Nerds is a list of 50 online tools for engaging pupils with words

Wordia  – watch moderated videos of explanations of words, search for any word.

PicLits – choose from a range of photographs, then drag and drop associated vocabulary from a wordbank appropriate to the selected picture on top of that picture.

NewsWordy – features a word from the current news, and exemplifies that word in various contexts. Also includes an archive of previous words of the day.

Mimed Action – “Freeze-action”

Use a music track on the computer (use an Internet search engine and enter “free royalty-free music” in the search box for free download music files from online sites) as stimulus (to download files right click on each download link and “save target as” – choose where to save to – save).

Royalty Free Music and Sound Effects for Classroom Use – collection of sources free to use in class projects. – for free short sound clips from movies. Pupils to combine a sequence that moves from one freeze-action mime to the next on a signal from the teacher.

Pupils use a digital camera to take photographs of freeze-action of groups, to show on computer / data projector – pupils to reflect and evaluate in group discussion. – resources on using digital camera.

Pupils create mimed action mirroring actions of character shown on a short clip on the computer and

Pictures / Postcard Starter – “Freeze-action”, “Still-image”, “Thought Out Loud”

Show the class a selected picture and together establish a few facts observed from the picture using prompts Who, What, Where, Why, When?

Still-image / Freeze frames” – in groups the class re-create the picture with each pupil taking on the role of one of the people in the photograph. Each pupil will be asked to speak when the teacher clicks fingers above pupil’s head. They will say their name and what they are doing

Thought Out Loud”- each pupil in character will describe their feelings about the situation the picture shows them in.

Cross-Cut” – one group starts with action – then cut to next group action of what they think happens next, then on signal from teacher cuts to next group.

Choose pictures from the Internet:

historic still pictures of people, objects or places –

constantly updating location webcam images

panoramic images – type panorama into the search box

Qwiki – a search facility which displays related images and reads aloud text about each image

Royalty-free images free to use for class projects – collections of sources of images which can be used in school projects.

Moving Image Resources as stimulus – “What Happens Next”, “Improvisation”, “”Forum Theatre”

Use online resources of film clips, news stories or movie trailers as starting point for “What happens next” improvisations (right-click on film clips – save target as – choose location to save on your computer – download). – video clips from Scotsman news archive. – Scottish archive of photographs and film.  – UK Movie Image and Media Education. – Scottish Screen – includes resources and links. – The British Film Institute.

Forum Theatre” – a group starts the improvised action watched by the rest of the class.  It can be “frozen” by any other pupil or the teacher and other pupils add to the situation or replace characters.

News sources:

Media Literacy Clearinghouse – this has a host of resources for teaching pupils about techniques used in the media, grouped by concept, curricular area or medium.

Creating Digital Video – “Living Newspaper”, puppetry

Drama offers pupils opportunities to explore human behaviour by creating roles and relationships in a variety of different contexts and settings. Pupils in groups can collaborate on communicating and presenting the group’s interpretation and resolution of problems in a explorations of conflict situations.

Online tools which can be used to present these situations might include Domo Animate or Go Animate. These tools provide the tools to have on-screen characters engage in a dialogue made up by the pupils. Xtranormal is also an online tool which lets users choose characters, type responses for the characters to speak, as well as change camera views of the characters.

FlipVideo – resources to support the use of FlipVideo USB video cameras (or similar) in the classroom.

Using Windows Live Movie Maker – help with using the free downloadable software for creating a video or stop-motion animation. – free film-making downloadable storyboarding software and tutorials – free tutorials and resources on using free Windows Movie Maker 2. – Georgia Movie Makers – resources and tutorials on using Windows Movie Maker 2.

Creating a “Living Newspaper” – record a report on an event in the news, historical or current, with pupils taking on roles of interviewees, reporter and people in character. Stimulus may be story from the news or a headline.

Create a puppet show – pupils devise scripted puppet show and record on video.

Contains directions for making different kinds of puppets, including templates.

Contains links and resources for making and using puppets

The Week in Rap – weekly updated news stories presented in rhyming rap on video.

Photostory3 – free downloadable software which lets pupils add audio to photographs and create a news story.

SAM Animation – resources to support the use of the free downloadable software to create a stop-motion animation.

On-screen teleprompters can be useful for pupils who would find it helpful to type in text they are going to say for video – free online teleprompters include: CuePrompter and PrimaryPad Autocue Teleprompter.


Scripted Work – templates and guides

Kidsinco – free playscripts for children.

BBC Writer’s Room free Microsoft Word templates for Screenplay; TV Taped Drama; TV Taped Sitcom; Radio Drama; Radio Sketch; Stage; Comic Book.  Also has archive of scripts from broadcast BBC plays, animated films, television sitcoms.

Nuts and Bolts Film-making – free scripts and resources

Independent Film makers – Sonnyboo free resources including script templates, storyboarding templates

RawScripts – this is an online tool and storage space which provides templates and guides for writing drama. Sign up is required to make use of the tool but is free.

PlotBot – a free online tool which lets users sign up for a free online space with templates and guides to create a screenplay or drama. This can be entirely private or can be opened up to others, perhaps a group of pupils or a class to work on a collaborative screenplay or drama script.

Writing Pads – free online tools for real-time collaboration on writing, which identify the text and changes undertaken by each contributor, and which give options to undo actions to previous versions to show development of written work and contributiobns of each writer.

WordTalk – when pupils are working on their scripts and wish to hear what they sound like, without the pupils themselves reading the texts aloud, they can use WordTalk to speak aloud the text. This can help pupils to check that what they think they have written is what is actually written.

Audacity – free downloadable software which lets pupils record their voices speaking their script, and then to edit the audio as required. This can create mp3 files which can be added to video, or other online tools as the audio track.

Online Drama in Education Resources

In Drama, observing, listening and reflecting are essential elements in developing an appreciation of the value of both personal contributions and those of others as well as identifying what has been learned through the process. Appreciation of professional and amateur performances and a greater awareness of the role of mass media can be gained through this process. Pupils can be encouraged to use what they have learned in describing what they have seen and heard and in responding to their experiences. Online tools which provide access to on-screen drama with study notes to help draw out the techniques used include:

ChildDrama – online resources, lesson plans and ideas for using drama techniques in teaching, sorted by categories, techniques or age level.

It’s okay to let kids act up – resources for supporting drama in schools at different ages and stages

Drama Experiences and Outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence from Education Scotland.

Creative Drama and Theatre Education Contains classroom ideas for games and warm-up exercises to develop specific drama skills.

Drama in Education Arts on the Move – Drama in Education Contains descriptions of drama “conventions” and terms as well as activities specific to primary schools.

The Virtual Drama Studio

Links to resources which relate to the teaching of Drama and Theatre mainly for teaching 11-18 year olds but with ideas which can be adapted for other ages.

Drama Education Creative Drama Lesson Plans

Space from Fused Works is a free downloadable piece of software which lets you design the stage and set as well as characters in 3D, then view from various positions so you can try out what actors or audience members will see. Many lesson plans for all ages sorted by age, type of drama and curricular subject.

Drama in Education – – has lesson plans on teaching using drama grouped by curricular area and age.

TAG Citizens Theatre Drama Guide for Education includes a helpful guide to many drama techniques and examples of how thy can apply in a primary classroom

Drama and ICT – list of links to resources collated by Chris Smith on his Shambles site

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *