let's NOT do goldilocks, for once.
December 3, 2009 6:26 AM   Subscribe

Help me, a teacher, help my energetic, funny and amazing 10-year-old EFL students write and direct a pair of plays.

I've been put in charge of a drama club at my school in Korea. We've got 4 weeks to brainstorm, write, rehearse, and film two plays. I have six students, and while they will each act in both plays, they will be written by groups of three. We did some brainstorming and we came up with the following ideas:
1) A crew of superheroes and magical people who have lost their powers-- a comedy
2) A normal school populated by a group of scary people (zombies, ghosts, etc)
but these aren't set in stone. They're a VERY, VERY active group of kids-- at any given moment usually four of them are jumping on their desks. They wanted to do a fighting play (with fake guns?) but I wasn't sure if that was appropriate.

Their English is not strong, so I'm planning to write a plot and help them develop it into a simple script. Trouble is, I know next to nothing about creative writing (especially for children), and I have never really been involved in anything dramatic. How do I develop these ideas into storylines that use all 6 students equally? How long should the script be if we're to tackle it in a month? We have fifteen 40-minute sessions, and the kids are quite hard to control.

(I'm not NECESSARILY asking for you to come up with a brief storyline, but if anything cool comes to mind......)
posted by acidic to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
When I was that age doing Drama Club, activities usually didn't involve the kids writing their own plays. We did smaller things like writing our own commercials for fake products, or re-telling fairy tales. Something the kids are already familiar with. I think maybe you are being a little too ambitious.

Hansel and Gretel has three characters, so does Little Red Riding Hood. Maybe you could do something with those stories?
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:27 AM on December 3, 2009

One thing you need to think about: do these students have any idea what you are talking about? Do they understand the concept of a play, or of creating one? With EFL students, never underestimate the usefulness of modelling. For example, take a short, simple cartoon the students are familiar with, and deconstruct it. Have the students write out the dialogue (hey! dictation/listening practice!), then have them pay attention to the blocking of the scene. Where do people stand? Why do they stand there? When do they move? Why do they move?

Of course, the above is based on the idea of active, interested and able students, and vague memories of a theater minor. Depending on the pressure involved, and the politics in the school, you might just be better off trying to take a story they all know and adapting it for stage. I'm in Japan, with no knowledge of Korean animation/children's programming, but here, I would think of adapting a Doraemon story, or something similar. Feel free to memail me if you have any other questions, or just want a second pair of eyes to look over something. Good luck. Remember, it should be fun for the students, and for you, as much as possible.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:29 AM on December 3, 2009

Response by poster: To clarify: they're required to write their own plays (not my choice). It's supposed to double as a writing exercise. I'm prepared to offer SIGNIFICANT assistance.
posted by acidic at 7:29 AM on December 3, 2009

In that case (original material) you need to get moving as soon as you can. It always takes longer to do creative work (in a group) than you think it would. I'd still do the modelling, but try to do it in a class/homework kind of way. The key is, you should really try to get them moving on it as quickly as you can. Along the way, if possible, you might have opportunities to teach them, in very simple terms, things like motive, tension, crisis/climax, denoument, and the whole concept of story telling, as long as you keep it simple, and do lots of renaming. If they're into the superheroes-no powers story, and the monster school story, go with it, and help as much as you can. Try to see how much they can do on their own, though. I imagine they'll be much more excited to do they're project, rather than one you give to them.

In a way, you have an opportunity to do a lot of learning/classroom language practice, by having them ask questions (How do you say ~ in English?) and getting pointers from you when they need it. See if you can let them run with it, and try to be as much of an observer/advisor as you can.

What kind of school is this? Elementary school? Language school?

Good luck on this. It's always fun to be given unreasonable goals by people who won't have to worry about how to meet them.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:02 AM on December 3, 2009


I'm a teacher of literacy to 10 year olds in state school here in the UK. I've also taught TEFL to little dudes too.

My opinion would be to model writing a short playscript in front of the children. Then act it out with them. It doesn't need to be long for them to get it.

Then try writing one together. Then act it out.

Then they write independently or as small groups. Then act it out.

You need to show the children what is expected of them rather than just tell them.

Hope this helps.

posted by mooreeasyvibe at 9:50 AM on December 3, 2009

Why not do something about the world cup or football? There's a lot about it in the news and North and South Korea are going.

Boy plays football. Doesn't do very well. Feels bad. Hears about magic boots that once belonged to legend. Finds them and plays in them. Loses boots after becoming successful. Knows he will fail in the final. Turns out it wasn't the boots that made him win but his self belief.

This is a rip off of 'There's only one Jimmy Grimble' but kids love it.


Hope this helps too.
posted by mooreeasyvibe at 9:59 AM on December 3, 2009

Oh, and as they say in rap parlance, fairy tales are whack. Do something new and different. Modern.
posted by mooreeasyvibe at 10:03 AM on December 3, 2009

Keep it as simple as possible, and do it in parts. Have them choose a setting first. Then characters and their names/descriptions/roles in the story. Make an outline of what will occur in the story. Then write the dialogue, then the extra directions/details. Then play it out, and see what works, what doesn't. 10 year olds are absolutely capable of doing this, if it's structured enough.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:47 AM on December 3, 2009

« Older Sources for good cheap learning literature?   |   MSAccessFilter: How do I create a printable report... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.