About Drama Circles - Acting Scripts for Kids
Updated: May 20
Drama Trunk Drama Circles are a perfect way to explore a story and characters in a whole class guided (scripted) performance.
Drama Machines meet Drama Circles
DRAMA MACHINES (also known as ESSENCE MACHINES) are a classic drama activity! I have combined drama machine elements, with reader's theatre and performance objectives into a drama circle format 'Character Machine Drama Circles'.
About Character Machine Drama Circles
The printable drama circles are based on well known fairy tales and are a whole class performance (acting) script performed in a circle. The scripts are focused on either a character or a few characters and enable the whole class to participate in an energetic performance. The lines (script) has been developed with performance in mind and each Drama Circle comes with 30+ drama circle acting script cards with instructions and script for students to perform the story in a fun and energetic way. Students develop speaking and listening skills with this adaptation of the classic drama machines activity. A perfect way for primary / elementary / middle school students (teens) to delve into characters and combine reading practice with performing (Reader’s Theatre)!
Each Drama Circle resource includes:
Printable Drama Circle Acting Script Cards (students are given a card to perform in sequence to tell a story. The Character Machine Cards provide an instruction on when and how to say each line and a short line (script) for each student to perform when it’s their turn)
Further instructions to bring in whole class chorus elements to the performance!
Instructions / Hints
Teacher explains that students are going to create a drama character machine and that all students will form part of the machine by performing the instructions on their card (in card order).
In a circle, randomly allocate cards (if this is a new activity, you may hand cards in sequence around the circle so that students are prompted by the student next to them). The teacher may have the first card to start the character machine.
Students follow the card instructions, adding their part when it is their turn (cards have numbers on them). Students may step into the circle to deliver their part or stay where they are (as they will play around with pace and perform gestures, it may be easier to stay where they are. That said, for the first practice round, having students step forward may assist).
In the first round, teacher assists students with performance of their part, encouraging students to deliver parts with lots of energy and clear gestures. Ask students to repeat their part to polish individual performances.
Once all students have performed their part, teacher explains that they will do it again faster and with further delivery instructions.
PACE: Start by having the students perform the character machine faster. Once you have gone around another time with increased pace, add in further instructions.
VOLUME: Explain that students will now work together to “build up” the character machine, starting very softly and getting louder each time it goes around. Students should perform at a reasonable pace with quiet voices to begin and building in volume (the pace should also get faster as the volume increases). As students are performing the character machine, ask them to start to decrease volume and pace again, bringing the machine to a stop.
FURTHER PROMPTS: Teacher may add in further prompts appropriate to the machine (for example, ‘the character is angry about something’ ‘the character is now frightened for their life’ etc.) Students should react to the further prompts as the machine is working.
PLAY AROUND WITH DIFFERENT DELIVERY: Try and take the cards out of sequence, and ask students to come in with their part when they feel it is right (or all at the same time, repeating their part and playing around with volume and pace). The machine may also go silent with a focus just on actions / gestures before bringing in sounds again. You may also instruct certain parts to come in together in groups at the same time or for students to say the same lines / perform sounds together (allocate more than one student for certain parts). Another option is to take out narration parts and just focus on sounds and one character.
Character Machine RHYTHM Drama Machines should be rhythmic. The ordered cards help with this as students will add their part after another part is performed. But the delivery style can be played around with (suggested after they have performed the machine in sequence). Drama Machines do not have to be performed in sequence so you can also play around with performing the story out of sequence.
Character Machine REFLECTION After students have performed the character machine, reflect on what worked well in the machine and how character machines could be used to discover characters and tell different parts of a story.
Character Machines FOLLOW UP activities
CREATE YOUR OWN CHARACTER MACHINE: As a follow up activity, students may work together or by themselves to create their own character machine based on a well known or studied character. If students create their own character machine or you create a new character machine as a class, try performing them!
INCLUSION OF OTHER CHARACTER PARTS: Reflect on how the inclusion of different character parts helps to tell the story of the main character. As a further activity, try the character machine without any narration or other character parts and discuss whether it still works as a story. Ask students to create new lines and machine parts just as the main character. You may also create another machine from a different character perspective.
Character Machine Drama Circles
You can find the following Character Machine Drama Circles and Drama Machine Resources at Drama Trunk (click on each to view separately):
Drama Machine Cards
DRAMA TRUNK Drama Machine cards contain example elements for different machines so that when students are starting Drama Machines, they can be provided with specific examples and the cards also provide teachers with examples for their own inspiration. Each card contains multiple example elements which can be added to the machines as you like. You can add further elements and students should eventually also add their own. Some of the elements are designed to be performed by multiple students at once, in chorus or one after another.
More Drama Acting Scripts for Kids and Teens?
Drama Trunk has more printable acting scripts for kids and teens. Check them out HERE!
Happy drama teaching!