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Tips for Teaching the Arts

Creative Dramatics Warm-Ups

Margo McCreary




To begin, gather group in a circle and lead a song that is lively and uses lots of action, such as the Hokey Pokey.

Transforming the Ball

Start with an imaginary ball that you demonstrate can change form. It can get smaller, and very large, light like a balloon, and very heavy.

Demonstrate with movement. Students are instructed to observe carefully and catch the ball that is thrown to them--the weight, speed, trajectory that the other player has established. "Make the ball real for us."

When the new player has the ball, he or she transforms the ball with movement, and then throws it to another player. Send the ball around until everyone has had a turn, and have the last person make the ball disappear. The ball may even become another object if the creativity of the group goes that direction. Be alert to spontaneity, and praise it.

Sound and Movement

Ask students to create a simple movement and sound that expresses how each feels in that moment. (Such Sounds and movements may be inspired by animals.)

As each child in circle performs his/her sound and movement, the other students repeat it, one by one around the circle, as closely as possible in tone, rhythm, quality.

A variation is to instruct students to take each movement and sound created in a "Wave" around full circle and move on to the next person in the circle until the whole circle has performed. Keep this moving quickly by encouraging students to use their first impulse for sound and movement. The goal is not perfection, it is energy to share and ride.


Mirroring is a quiet and more reflective activity which calls for attentive observation with the whole body. It is good for getting whole bodies involved, and shouldn't be done until there is energy raised and group cooperation and trust.

This activity is done in pairs. One player agrees to be the mirror/follower and the other the actor/leader.

Students are asked to remember what it is like to look into a mirror, and then the actor/leader starts simple movement into the mirror (this could be a simple activity or just abstract movement) and the mirror/follower reflects in movement what she sees.

A good cue for this activity is to remind students to reflect only what they see, not what they think they see. Try to have mirror and actor switch roles without interrupting the movement.

Eventually have them try to be both leaders and followers, simultaneously, creating together.