For this guest blog we hear from drama teacher Sam Marsden, who reflects on the broader benefits of introducing drama games into lessons of all kinds. The activities Sam uses in her teaching can offer a powerful new way for young people to tap into their creativity, build confidence and more – all of which also play an important role in the wider performing arts. Here, Sam highlights some of the benefits of adding some drama to your classes, and shares three activities that teachers could try for themselves with their students. 
Image: Sam Marsden; credit: Rosalind Hobley 
Drama Games aren’t only for drama teachers; they can be used by all to break the ice, warm students up, and to build connections. You can play a ten minute game at the start of any lesson to engage students, or you might like to run a full length drama workshop to get to know your students better while getting creative. Below I include three drama games to get you started. 
During my years of teaching drama I've seen children and young people go from: 
Shy to confident. 
Afraid to brave. 
Blocked to creative. 
Voiceless to empowered. 
Drama is not just for those who want to be actors, it’s for all of us. Drama empowers! It helps students to express and then feel seen and heard. Drama helps with skills such as awareness, confidence, concentration, creativity, critical thinking, diction, empathy, listening, literacy, problem solving, social skills, storytelling, and teamwork. 
Here’s three games to get you started, and for more you can check out my Pocketful of Drama book series on Amazon

Yes, Let’s! 

Explain to the class that everyone goes along with whatever the idea caller calls out. For example, you might say, “Let’s all eat an ice cream,” and the class would reply, “Yes, let’s!” 
Then everyone would eat an ice cream. For the first few examples I might add a few questions to get students in the mood: “What flavor is your ice cream?” “Is it in a cone or a cup?” “Is it melting or frozen solid?” “Do you like to bite or lick your ice cream?” Give everyone a minute with their ice cream before you call out the next idea. You might say, “Let’s all pretend to be monkeys!” and the class would reply, “Yes, let’s!” before leaping into action. 
Then you may call out, “Let’s all go to the beach,” and the class would call back, “Yes, let’s!” 
Explain there is no right or wrong in improvisation and that each individual gets to choose what they do. Once these foundations have been laid, you can ask students to raise their hands if they’d like to share their ideas. Explain that the only bad ideas are those that are violent in speech or action. Give each idea around forty-five seconds to play out. 

Mime - Magic Box! 

Ask students to sit in a circle. Explain that you’ve brought something very special to class. Get up and retrieve an invisible magical box. Mime holding this heavy box and sit down in the circle, placing it in front of you. Explain that in the past, children have pulled all kinds of things from this box. You might say something like: 
“Once, a child pulled out a cute baby bunny. Sometimes children find things to eat in here, or sports equipment. And there was this one time a girl pulled out a broomstick and went flying around the classroom! We couldn’t get her down! I’m going to open this box now and see what comes out.” 
Slowly and dramatically, open the invisible box and pull something out. You might start licking an ice cream cone, for example. Ask students to raise their hands if they know what it is, then choose someone to guess. Once someone has guessed correctly, you can add a little more magic by saying something like, “Yes, it’s ice cream, and it’s very special ice cream! It changes flavour with every lick. I tasted chocolate, strawberry, and bubble gum!” 
Explain that the box will get passed around the circle and that students need to remember to open the lid before pulling something out and to close the lid when they’re done. Reassure them that they can pull anything out of the box—there is no right or wrong answer. If a child doesn’t want a turn, they can pass the box to the next person. Once the box has been around the circle, pick it up and put it away out of sight to maintain the illusion. When you return, ask the students to put away whatever they took from the box with their coats and bags. Tell them that they can take the items home and keep them! 

A Change of Weather 

Ask the students to find a space in the room. Explain that you are going to call out different types of weather, and the children will react. For example, if you call out, “It’s freezing cold,” everyone walks around the room imagining that it’s very cold. You can add music if you like, but it’s not necessary. After about thirty seconds to one minute, call out something different (and change the music, if you’re using it). Here are some ideas that work well: 
It’s very hot, and you’re at the beach. 
You’re at the park playing, but a thunderstorm is coming. 
You’re in the desert, very hot and very thirsty, with nothing to drink. 
It’s snowing, go play! 
It’s raining, and you’re late for school. 
It’s foggy. 
It’s hailing. 
It’s a beautiful warm day, and you’re walking home from school. 
It’s drizzling, and you’re walking the dog. 
It’s very windy, and you can hardly walk because of it! 
It’s icy, be careful not to slip! 
It’s sunny and rainy and there’s a rainbow. 
You’re in the jungle, and it’s very humid (you might need to explain what humidity is). 
There’s a blizzard! 

About Sam Marsden, and further resources 

Sam hopes to empower and spark people’s creativity, whether through her drama teaching, teaching resources, or fiction. She’s dyslexic. Sam went to The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She’s taught drama for fifteen years in a variety of settings. She’s the author of 100 Acting Exercises for 8 – 18 Year Olds, and the Pocketful of Drama book series, which includes: 
Acting Games for Improv 
Teach students improvisation with this easy-to-use book. Thirty improvisation exercises for the classroom and rehearsals. These exercises are suitable for all ages and skill levels. 
“This is a great guide to teaching improvisation. It offers a nice variety of different ways to stimulate players of all ages to find more freedom, creative expression and joy through play.” Chris Heimann, Improvisation, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London 
Drama Games for Early Years 
Teach early years (4-7 year-olds) drama with 30 easy-to-use games divided into four chapters – Games, Focus, Imagination, and Story. With a foreword by Dr John Spencer, author and podcast host of The Creative Classroom. 
“This fantastic and diverse collection of games is the perfect toolkit for educators to introduce young performers to the magic of theatre and inspire them to unleash their creativity!” Yale Children’s Theater 
Acting Exercises for Creative Writing 
Teach your students, or yourself, acting and creative writing with this easy to use book. Employ these creative writing exercises, which are rooted in acting technique, to build new characters, worlds, and stories. 
“This fun guide is a must-have for teachers who want to inspire their students through interactive games that secretly teach important communication skills!” Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author and writing coach 
You can follow Sam on Instagram at @pocketfulofdrama and on X at @SamMarsdenDrama 
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