Posted in Anti bullying drama workshop for children, Anti bullying elementary school, Bullying, Bullying drama workshop for children, Drama for children

Anti Bullying Drama Workshop -How to explore the topic of bulling through drama


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Main Objective:  To use naturalistic acting techniques to examine the issue of bullying and harassment.

 Sub aims:

  • To explore the body language of statues and power
  • To identify and enact human responses to messages of welcome or rejection.
  • To work in groups to make and present a drama on the theme of bullying.

Materials: An empty space and chairs

Check In: At the beginning of the session, the facilitator invites participants to offer a brief, individual response about how they are feeling (physically/emotionally) or what they are looking forward to regarding their work together. This strategy recognizes that affect (body, emotion) and intention shape how an individual participates in the learning environment, particularly when the exploration involves physical or emotional risk-taking by the participants.

Warm Up

WALK IT, TALK IT: Mingle around the room, walking and talking in the manner of:

HARDS – slouch, swagger, and call out across room to his mates. Pair up on command: 30 seconds to boast about your latest tough deed.

SHYS – scuttle, dart, and make little greetings as you pass. Pair up on command: 30 seconds to ask for directions

STARS – saunter or strut, greet your fans, stop to pose for cameras. Pair up on command: 30 seconds to boast about your latest movie or engagement.

 SnapShot: Divide into groups of three and each group make a still image of:

  • the star hits town
  • louts hang out on local street
  • first day at a new job.

Each group presents to the class.

Comment on differences in body language

  • What differences in body language did you see in those pictures?
  • Were the bodies more open or more closed?
  • Where was the focus of that picture?
  • How was it made more interesting by use of levels, angles, proximity of one character to another, and so forth?

 Main Focus:

Pair up. One person brings out a chair and sits on it.

Show a tableau of the bully (standing) demanding money from the other (sitting). Upon instruction, bring the scene to life with a line from the bully, ‘You know what I want – so give it to me!’

Swap roles the tableau is of the bully lounging on the seat and the other person arriving to find their seat taken. Upon command, bring the scene to life with the line, ‘Excuse me, but that’s my seat…’

Lightning looks

Have all pairs play at once. Freeze them and activate one or two pairs at a time to take lightning looks at their scenes.

Talk about body language of status. Look at how status is conferred.

Replay. Ask for some partnerships to replay the scene, but as characters of equal status.

Discuss what differences you notice in what is done and or said.

What are the bully characters doing with body / voice / choice of language/ positioning o claim status?

What are the victim characters doing with body / voice /choice of language/ positioning to bestow status?

What difference do you see when they are played at equal status?

How do actors create images of status? Point out how a role is both created and bestowed by the reactions of others.

When / where do you see this happening in real life?

Human guinea pig’ scenarios:

Each scene is to begin with the others acting as friends gossiping about the weekend. Upon a command, the ‘guinea pigs’ arrive into their groups. Four variants are played in the following order (maintain the order to finish on a positive note):

  • the arriving party is ignored
  • the arriving party is blamed for something
  • the arriving party is actively welcomed and included
  • the arriving party is treated as a celebrity.

What was it like to be ignored, blamed, welcomed or fussed over?

What emotions do these different responses trigger in real life?

How did each affect the character’s behaviour (voice, body, dialogue)?

If this was real life, rather than make believe, how would these experiences affect someone?

In real life, what are some of the reasons why groups hand out different sorts of treatment?

Making a scene from a story

Small group improvisation

  1. Set groups to prepare an improvisation around the title ‘new kid’. Distribute different tasks to each group
  • A new kid approaches a group in the yard and is welcomed
  • A new kid is introduced to the ‘wrong’ group by a teacher
  • A new kid is called over to the group and given a celebrity welcome
  • A new kid boasts about previous exploits
  • The group tests a new kid out
  • A new kid is reassured by parents on the first day of school.
  1. Allow students time to talk through, cast and try out their scene.
  2. Present the scenes to the class.

Using Poetry as a stimulus to explore the issue of bullying



Four o’clock, Friday, I’m home at last,

time to forget the week that’s passed.


On Monday break they stole my ball

And threw it over the garden wall.


On Tuesday morning, I came in late,

But they were waiting behind the gate.


On Wednesday afternoon, in games,

They threw mud and called me names.


Yesterday, they laughed after the test,

‘cos my marks were lower than the rest.


Today, they trampled my books on the floor

And I was kept in because I swore.


Four o’clock, Friday, at last I’m free;

For two whole days they can’t get me.

Alternative improvisation exercise is that each group could improvise the story in the poem. You don’t narrate the story instead you act out the scenario.


Participants stand in a circle.  The group is given a prompt that sets a challenge for the day or reflects on what happened. For example: To end our work, we will offer a group Words of Wisdom that explains how we felt about the day. Each person will offer a word as we make up sentence together. Our goal is to build on the word and idea that is offered before. One person volunteers to begin. Each person offers one word each, to collectively build a short sentence or phrase. Today-was-fun-because-we-got-to-play-and-think-together. After the group feels a complete phrase/sentence been spoken, everyone energetically says “yes” and shimmies into the circle, then steps back into the circle for the next phrase to begin.  The next person in the circle then says the first word of the next Words of Wisdom statement. The facilitator can do multiple statements, moving around the circle or through a row or group of seated participants. The tone and style of these short sayings, or words of wisdom, can vary. They can be inspirational, like Zen quotations, silly like fortune cookies, or can follow a more serious reflective approach.












Posted in Anti bullying drama workshop for children, Drama for children, Plays, Plays for Children, Plays that teach emotions

Social Drama – A Play about Bullying – Without Excuse



(Stage is set up with all four people very close together. The chairs should be almost overlapping. Have two in front and two in back, but not directly behind if you know what I mean. As each person says their part they can change positions, but at any given time all four should be in a different position, ie, one standing, one sitting, one slouching, etc.)

Person 1: It wasn’t supposed to end up like this. I mean, I didn’t really mean for this to happen. In fact, if you really look at the situation you’ll see that it wasn’t my fault at all. I wasn’t even involved. There is this guy at my school. Kind of a weird guy. Doesn’t quite fit in, if you know what I mean. He’s the kind of guy that keeps to himself and does his own thing. I never bothered him. I never really thought all that much about him. He was just there. And I was doing my own thing.

Person 1 and 2: It wasn’t really my fault at all.

Person 2: It wasn’t my idea. I just went along with it because my friends were. They thought that it would be funny to mess with this one guy at school. They just thought that if they broke into his locker and  stole his phone  we could all get a good laugh out of it. It wasn’t a big deal at all. I didn’t really even do anything,

Narrators freeze and  on the other part of the stage. There are four of them in front of a locker.

Bully 1: Quick hurry.

Bully 2: Come on, will you.

Bully 3: I am going as fast as I can.

Bully 4:  Look we got it.

Bully 1: Hmm don’t look now but guess who is here.

Victim: What are doing?

Bully 2: Stealing your phone. What are you going to do about it?

Bully 3: (pushes the victim to the ground).

Bully 4: We are taking your phone and you are not to stay anything.

Freeze for a moment and walk off stage quietly.

Person 3: I don’t know why people pick on me. I‘m really not all that different. I just like to keep to myself. I don’t feel like talking to a lot of people. I guess I’m kind of distracted when I’m at school. I have a lot of stuff going on at home, you know? And so I think about it a lot. Its hard to focus on everyone having fun when I’ve got so much stress at home. I’m not trying to be anti-social or anything, I just have a lot on my mind.

Narrators freeze and  on the other part of the stage.

Father is sleeping in the corner with a bottle. Victim is watching telly.

Mother comes into the room.

Mother: Look at the state of him. How long has he been like that?

Victim: Since I got home from school.

Mother: Wake up you silly fool.

Father:  (wakes and grunts) Shut you stupid cow.

They have a fight father goes to hit mother then everyone freezes.

Person 4: I really hate my school, though. People there are just so juvenile and unfocused. It really brings me down. I have a hard time focusing there and I don’t want to make trouble for myself.

Victim: Do you want to go into town after school?I don’t want to go home.

Person 4: No offence I’d like to but I don’t think I should be seen with you.

Victim: Why not?

Person 4: Because they might start on me then and I really don’t want that.

Person 4: They just kept picking on him. Every day there was something new. New signs on his locker, new nicknames for him. They just never let up. I didn’t think that it was my place to say anything. I mean, I wasn’t involved. I don’t even know him that well.

Person 3: I just need someone to listen to me. I don’t want them to fix my problems or even tell me what to do, I just want someone to listen. Someone to help me sort through everything that is in my head so that I don’t have to carry it all alone. It’s hard to be so alone all of the time.

Person 2: So we put stuff in his locker, right? Like a dead mouse.  And he didn’t do anything about it. He doesn’t get mad, doesn’t fight back, it’s as if he doesn’t even notice that we did anything. Well, that is it get ‘all of the lads really mad because they wanted to get at least some kind of rise out of this kid. So they devise even crazier stuff to get at him. I didn’t really think it was a good idea. I mean, this kid never did anything to any of us. But you can’t just say something like that to your friends. I mean, they’d think I was afraid or something, and I didn’t want that to happen. So I just let it go.

Narrators freeze on the other side of the stage.

Victim opens his locker sighs and throws the mouse in the bin and walks off.

Bully 1: What is his problem?

Bully2: Dunno.

Bully 3: We just have to think of something better.

Bully 4: Like what?

Person 1: I figured that a teacher would step in or something. If it got too bad someone would do something. And so I didn’t need to worry about it. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, so I should just stay out of it. Besides, these guys wouldn’t do anything too bad, right? I mean, they would stop before it got out of hand. It always stops before it gets out of hand.

Person 4: They are so out of hand at my school. Everyone swears all the time, and all anyone can talk about is getting drunk. I don’t do any of that stuff, of course. I. They have no excuse to be acting the way that they do.

Person 3: They just kept at me. I tried to ignore them, but they just kept on going. It was like the more that I ignored them the more they decided to pick on me.

Victim: Why won’t you just leave me alone? I just want to be left alone?

Bully 2: Oh, come on. You’re such a stupid little boy, why won’t you fight like a man.

Bully 3: I don’t want to fight you.

Bully 1: Why, are you scared?

(Back to talking to the audience. Person 3 should be sitting down now with their back to the audience, head down.)

Persons 1 and 2: No one was supposed to get hurt.

Person 1: This wasn’t supposed to happen. Someone was supposed to stop it. There is no way that this should have happened here. A teacher should have stopped this.

Person 4: I knew that something like this would happen.  I should have helped him but I didn’t I was too concerned with not been bullied myself.

Person 1: My excuse is that someone else was going to stop all of this.

Person 2: My excuse is that it was only a laugh nobody was meant to get hurt.

Person 4: My excuse is that  I had to look after myself.

Persons 1,2, and 4: My excuse is ……………………………………….

(As this last line is said Person 3 gets up and walks off stage, everyone else freezes.)







Posted in Drama Activities for children, Drama for children, drama for kids, Drama strategies, Drama techniques, Elements of Drama, Esl Drama, Improvisation, Improvisation around bullying

Improvisation for beginners

What is improvisation?

Improvisation is theatre without a script. The performers hear it for the first time at the same time as the audience. Improvisation is shared creation. Improvisers make it up on the spot, often working from a suggestion from others. We build ideas step by step, using, “Accept the offer and build on it.”.

 This means that the improvisers must  listen carefully and add to what their partner is offering.

Beginner improvisation activity: 1, 2, 3 Counting

This is a very popular warm-up and one Augusto Boal mentions in his book ‘Games for Actors and Non-Actors’. The premise is simple yet requires concentration.

  1. Divide the group into pairs and ask the members of each group to name themselves either A or B.
  2. Ask them to count to three as a pair with A saying ‘1’, B saying ‘2’, A saying ‘3’, B saying’1′, A saying ‘2’, B saying ‘3’ etc.
  3. Now ask the As in each group to come up with a sound and movement that will replace ‘1’. The pair will continue counting with each partner substituting the sound and movement for the number ‘1’.
  4. Now ask the Bs in each group to come up with a sound and movement that will replace ‘2’. The pair will continue counting with each partner substituting As sound and movement for the number ‘1’, and Bs sound and movement for the number ‘2’
  5. Now ask A to come up with another sound and movement, this time for the number ‘3’. By now, there should be no numbers heard, only the unique sounds and movements that have been substituted for each number.

This exercise is simple and low-pressure yet begins to awaken the creative muscles by calling on students to create movement and sound on the spot.

Warm up improvisation activity: Word Ball

Word ball is another simple game but regards a high level of concentration. It works by gathering the students into a circles and ‘throwing’ words around.

  1. Choose any word to begin with (e.g. cat) and place your hands as if you were holding the word in them, then ‘throw’ the word using both your voice and your hands to a member of the group.
  2. The member of the group must ‘catch’ the word, and then throw the first word that comes to mind (e.g. cuddly) to the next member of the group.
  3. The next member ‘catches’ this word, and throws the first associated word that pops into their head (e.g. teddy bear) to the next person. The exercise continues like this until everybody has had plenty of chances to throw words around. Try to dissuade students from hesitating and encourage them to simply go with the first thing that comes to mind, reminding them that there is no such thing as wrong or right when it comes to improv.

Some  Simple Rules for improvisation:

It’s time to introduce some basic rules of improv. Although there is no right or wrong, there are rules that can help in the creation of improvisational theatre.

RULE ONE: Offer and Accept

There’s nothing worse when doing improv than working with somebody who constantly negates your ideas. e.g.

A: Wow, did you see that elephant over there?

B: No. What are you talking about?

Negating an idea forces your partner to do all the work by coming up with idea after idea. In the example above, B has stopped the flow of the scene by rejecting A’s offer. If he had accepted it, the scene could continue quite easily:

A: Wow, did you see that elephant over there?

B: WOW! That’s the biggest elephant I’ve ever seen! Where do you suppose it came from?

Yes, and improvisation activity:

This is a nice little game that trains students to accept offers and add to them. Like in the second example above, B accepts the existence of the elephant, and offers a question as an addition to his acceptance.

  1. Divide the class into two even lines, call one line A, and the other line B. Have the two lines face each other
  2. Begin with the students who are at the top of the lines. Ask the student in the A line to come up with an offer. The student in the B line must accept and add to it. A must then accept B’s addition, and add to it again. e.g.:

A: Would you like to cut my hair for me?

B:Yes!I have a hairdressing set in my room, let’s do it there.

A: Great! I’ll bring a picture of what I want it to look like.

3.   When they’re finished, each student will go to the end of the opposite line (i.e. The student from line A will go to the end of line B, the line B student will go to the end of line A), and the next two students will have their chance to go.

  1. Keep this game going until all students have had a chance to be in both lines.

RULE TWO: Keep Questions Direct

Open-ended questions can really stump your partner as you are essentially forcing them to do the work in the scene. For example, starting a scene by saying

– What’s going on here? means someone else has to supply the information for the scene. A better way to go about it would be to say

-Why are you Riding that horsurs Here, you are still asking a question but are also supplying your partners with information while you do it.

The most basic ground rule is that there is no right or wrong. Something that inhibits a lot of students is the worry that they are somehow doing something wrong. Improv is about going with your impulses and creating something from them. While there are some rules we will cover in this lesson that can make improv easier, there is no right or wrong.

Teach your students to repeat these questions and answers to themselves when they are feeling unsure:

– How do I do it?

– Just do it.

– Am I doing it right?

– Yes

What are you doing? Improvisation activity:

Group stands in a circle. One person goes into the centre of the circle and starts an action (such as brushing her teeth).

A person goes into the centre, and asks, “What are you doing?”

The person brushing her teeth answers by saying something other than what she is doing. “I’m dribbling a basketball.”

The first person then leaves, and the new person starts “dribbling a basketball.” Then a new person goes in and asks, “What are you doing?”

And so on…

Encourage students to make new choices each time. (No repeats.)

Newspaper Headlines

In a group of 3 pr4, chose one of the following headlines:

Airline removes passenger who won’t stop doing pull ups.

Arrest over theft of £5million gold toilet from palace.

Fisherman gets shock, as he reels in dinosaur like fish with huge eyes.

Two headed snake, named Double Dave found in the forest.

Woman dreams of swallowing a ring and wakes up to find she has.

Queen returns pet monkey to girl.

Make a still image, freeze frame, mime, improvise the story.


Airline removes passenger who won’t stop doing pull ups.


Arrest over theft of £5million gold toilet from palace.


Fisherman gets shock, as he reels in dinosaur like fish with huge eyes.


Two headed snake, named Double Dave found in the forest.


Woman dreams of swallowing a ring and wakes up to find she has.


Queen returns pet monkey to girl.

Some other links:

Therapeutic Storytelling 

Anti bullying workshop for children

Posted in Animal Stories, Books for children, Drama, Drama Activities for children, Drama for children, drama for kids, Drama games for 3 year olds, Drama games for 4 year olds, Drama strategies, Drama techniques, Fairy Tales, The 3 little pigs

Drama Workshop for Young Children based on the Three Little Pigs



The Three Little Pigs (Drama Workshop)

Each child finds a space and sits down. Each child or a group of children are assigned a specific word and a corresponding action. The narrator/teacher reads the story aloud and when the children hear their word they must jump up and do their actions. The words are in bold to assist the teacher/narrator.

 Movement: Action/sound.

Any number: Show that number of fingers.

Little: Crouch down as small as you can.

Pig: Get on all fours and oink once.

Pigs: Get on all fours and oink twice.

Big: Stretch up as high as you can.

Bad: Make an angry face.

Wolf: Make hands into claws and say “aargh.”

Laughing: Laugh loudly.

Smiling: Give a big wide smile.

Trotted: Trot up and down the space.

Straw: Rub your hands together.

Sticks: Clap your hands together.

Bricks: Clap your hands on your thighs.

Huff/huffed: Blow.

Puff/puffed: Blow harder.

Blow/blew: Stamp feet on the ground.

Narrator: Once upon a time, there was a mother pig who lived with her three little pigs. One day she said, “Little pigs, I think it is time for you to leave and make your own way in this big world. You each need to build your own house.” The little pigs were very excited about their new, big adventure. Mother pig gave each of her little pigs a hug, but she warned them, “Remember to watch out for the big bad wolf.” The little pigs waved goodbye to their mother, and they trotted into the woods. They were laughing and smiling, and soon they came across a man who was carrying some straw. The first little pig said, “May I have some straw to build my house?” The man said kindly, “Of course, you may.” The man gave the first little pig some straw to build his house. Just before they left, the man warned them, “Watch out for the big bad wolf.” The first little pig built his house of straw.

The two other pigs trotted on down the road. They were laughing and smiling, and soon they came across a man who was carrying some sticks. The second little pig said, “May I have some sticks to build my house?” The man said kindly, “Of course, you may.” The man gave the second little pig some sticks to build his house. Just before they left, the man warned them, “Watch out for the big bad wolf.” The second little pig built his house of sticks.

The third little pig trotted on down the road. He was laughing and smiling, and soon he came across a man who was carrying some bricks. The third little pig said, “May I have some bricks to build my house?” The man said kindly, “Of course, you may.” The man gave the third little pig some bricks to build his house. Just before they left, the man warned him, “Watch out for the big bad wolf.”

The third little pig built his house of bricks. The first little pig had just finished building his house of straw when the big bad wolf appeared. He said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

The first little pig replied, “Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin.”

Then the wolf said, Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I will blow the house down.” So, he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the house down.

The first little pig trotted very quickly to his brother’s house made of sticks. The second little pig had just finished building his house of sticks when he heard a knock on the door, and to his surprise, it was his brother. Suddenly, the big bad wolf appeared.

He said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

The second little pig replied, “Not by hair of my chinny, chin, chin.”

Then the wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I will blow the house down.” So, he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the house down.

The two little pigs trotted very quickly to their brother’s house made of bricks.

The third little pig had just finished building his house of bricks when he heard a knock on the door, and to his surprise, it was his two brothers. Suddenly, the big bad wolf appeared. He said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

The third little pig replied, “Not by hair of my chinny, chin, chin.”

Then the wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I will blow the house down.” The wolf huffed, and he puffed. He huffed, and he puffed, but he couldn’t blow the house down. He heard the three little pigs inside the house. They were laughing. This made the wolf very angry indeed. He decided he would climb to the top of the roof and come down the chimney.

The third little pig heard him on the roof, and he came up with a clever plan. He put a big pot of boiling water on the fire, which was just underneath the chimney. The wolf came tumbling down the chimney and landed into the big pot of boiling water and “SPLASH!” That was the end of the big bad wolf. The three little pigs lived happily ever after.

Warm-up: One child is chosen or volunteers to be Mr. or Ms. Wolf and stands at one side of the clear space. His/her back is to the other children, who are standing at the opposite end of the space. The rest of the children shout out: “What’s the time, Mr. /Ms. Wolf?” The wolf does not turn around. He/she replies in a rough, wolf-like voice: “Four o’clock.” The children walk forward the number of steps the wolf calls out (in this case, four). The children ask again: “What time is it, Mr./Ms. Wolf?” The wolf replies: “Five o’clock.” The children take five steps forward. The children continue to ask the question and to walk the appropriate number of steps forward. Eventually, when the wolf thinks that the children are near enough, he/she will say: “Dinnertime!” Then the wolf turns around and chases the children. They must try to rush back to their starting place. If Mr./Ms. Wolf catches one of them before they reach home, that child is the wolf in the next game.

Choral speaking: Teach the children the following poem. Get them to think of different actions for the straw, sticks, bricks, pigs and wolf. They say the poem in unison.

 Straw, Sticks and Bricks

Straw, sticks and bricks.

Straw, sticks and bricks.

The pigs built their houses

Out of straw, sticks and bricks

The wolf came by,

He blew the straw down.

He blew the sticks, but the bricks were strong

The pig lived happy all the days long

In their house of bricks.

Occupational mime: Divide the class into groups of 4: three pigs and one wolf. The pigs move round the room in a “follow the leader” style. The pig at the front of the line is doing the actions. The first pig mimes collecting materials and building a house of straw. Second and third pigs follow, copying the mime. When the house is blown down by the wolf, the first pig moves to the end of the line. Second pig then heads the line and mimes building house of sticks. Finally, third pig takes a turn and mimes building a house of bricks. The wolf moves around the room avoiding pigs as they build until it is time to blow the house down.

Role-play: Encourage different movements such as gathering straw, breaking sticks or lifting heavy bricks. Encourage the wolves to use their body and facial expression to look fierce and threatening. Give everyone in the group the opportunity to take on the role of the wolf. When the children are comfortable with the character movements, get them to use speech. Ask the following questions:

What does the wolf sound like?

What would he say to the little pigs?

What do the pigs sound like?

What would they say to the wolf?

Talking objects: Ask children if they can take on the role of the wolf. They use their breath to blow down the house. Get them to huff and puff and huff and puff and blow the house down. Everyone sits in a circle and the teacher presents the group with objects that can be blown down by the breath, the wind or a hurricane such as a leaf, balloon, paper, tree, car or even a bridge. Every child becomes an object; they enter the circle and give the group some information about who they are. For example: “I’m small, I’m green and live on a tree.” Once the rest of group have guessed correctly, everyone blows the object down.

Conclusion: The teacher discusses with the group reasons why the wolf gets very angry. The teacher asks the children how they can show the wolf how to relax using his breath. The wolf uses his breath to blow things down, but he could use his breath for relaxation exercises.

Tummy breathing: The children find their own space on the floor. They lie down and place their hands or a stuffed toy on their tummy. They inhale on a count of three. They see their hands or stuffed toy rising as their tummy fills with air. They exhale on the count of four and they see their hands or stuffed toys falling. Repeat this process 10 times. When everyone is finished, ask the children the following questions:

How do you feel?

What did you notice about your hands/stuffed toy when you inhaled and exhaled?

How would this exercise help the wolf?

Burst balloon: The children all lie on the floor. The teacher gets them to imagine that their body is a balloon. They are going to close their eyes and inflate the balloon. They fill up their tummies with air. Then when they are full, the teacher counts to three and the children shout bang and they let all the air out of their bodies like a deflated balloon.





Posted in Mime, Mime for all ages, Mime for children, Mime for kids, Movement activities

Cu Chulainn – Mime Play




Cu Chulainn

(This is a mime play with a storyteller, the mime actions are in italics).

The storyteller:

This is the story of Cu Chulainn and how he got his name and became one of Ireland’s most famous warriors. Cullen was a blacksmith to the high king of Ireland. His job was to make swords of flashing steel that could cut the thickest of trees and bronze shields that would protect the king from the wrath of the fieriest dragon in Ireland.

Mime action:

Cullen the blacksmith walks to the centre of the stage. He has got helpers. They make a still image of a blacksmith’s forge. Then, they mime making the swords. They hand them to each other. They brandish them. They cut down trees to see if the sword is sharp enough and they present if to the king who is sitting on his throne.

The storyteller:

The high king was pleased with Cullen and one day he held a royal feast in his honour and invited all the noble warriors in Ireland to the feast.

Mime action:

The King leads the procession of warriors. Servants bring in seats. They sit and the servants carry in great plates of food and bottles of wine.

The storyteller:

As night fell, Cullen left his mighty black hound to guard the king’s palace. The hound was very fierce with ugly red eyes and huge teeth.

Mime action:

One of the children takes the part of the hound. The High King,, Warriors and Cullen stretch out and go to sleep. The hound stands in front of them and guards them.

The storyteller:

The King had forgotten that a boy called Setanta was playing hurley on the field outside. No one had warned him about the dreadful hound.

Mime action:

Setanta approaches the palace. He is happy and swing his hurling stick. He sees the hound. The hound attacks Setanta. The battle continues in slow motion as the storyteller speaks. The king, warriors and lords wake up and watch the fight.

The storyteller:

There was a mighty fight between them. Setanta eventually kills the hound by ramming his hurley down the hound’s throat.

Mime action:

The hound dies.

The storyteller:

The king, Cullen and all the noble warriors rush out when they hear the combat. The king hugs Setanta as he is delighted that the boy is safe.

Mime action:

The king comes forward and praises Setanata. Cullen stands over the dead hound. The King and warriors go to him.

The storyteller:

Cullen however was sad and grieved at the loss of his great guard hound. He wondered who will guard his workshop. Who will guard all the bronze and gold in the workshop that’s needed to make the swords and shields.

Mime action:

Setanta lifts his hand and gestures that he will take the place of the hound. He could take the mask from the hound and change this into a helmet which he lifts high and then places on his head.

The storyteller:

I will guard your forge from now on and I will take the place of your hound” said Setanta. So he did – and guarded the forge of Cullen, the blacksmith. He was known by his new name Cu Chulainn – the hound of Cullen. He became the highest and greatest of Irelands’s ancient warriors.There are many more exciting stories about Cu Chulainn and the heroes of Ireland. Make up your own mime plays from these stories.


For more mine activities click here


Visit my Amazon page for more drama activities, plays and monologues.


Posted in Drama for children

Movement and self regulation for young children



Movement is very important for helping children increase their control over their own thoughts, emotional responses and actions. The following movement activities are fun and can be introduced easily into the day.


Movement Activity: Imagine You Are……

Resources needed: Clear space.

Instructions: This game helps children do traditional stretches in a creative and fun way. These stretches can be done individually or in pairs.

Imagine you are a whisk

Get the children to stand in a circle and put their hands over their head. They join their hands together and move them around in a large circle. Initially, they move their hands in a clockwise direction and when the group is comfortable moving in this direction, get them to move their hands in an anticlockwise direction.

Imagine you are an inchworm

Get the children to bend down and put their hands on the ground. Next, get them to walk their hands out in front of them until they are supporting their own body weight. The children get into a push up position.  They walk their feet up to their hands and then they continue walking their hands out and walking their feet up to their hands until they have moved to the other side of the room. Make sure that they have their own space and don’t bump into one another.

Imagine you are a car wiper

Get the children to lie on the ground. When they are comfortable get them to put their legs in the air. Slowly they move both legs from one side to another.

Imagine you are a cat stretching

Get the children to put their hands and feet are on the floor, arch their back high in the air and stretch.

Imagine you are a giant

Get the children to take a big step and lunge on each step.

Imagine you are a marching soldier

Get the children to swing their arms and bring their legs up to their chest on each step.

Imagine you are a leaping frog

Get the children to squat down. They put their hands between their knees and jump around the space.

Movement Activity: Movement Sequences

Resources needed: Clear space.

Instructions: The teacher discusses with the children different ways of moving. He/she asks the children to come up with as many ways to move as possible.

Suggestions for different ways to move:















Walk sideways

Walk backwards

The children will come up with many more ways of moving than those listed above.  The teacher calls out different movement sequences such as



Extension: If the children are older then give them an opportunity to be the leader and call out their own movement sequences.


Movement Activity: Butterflies

Resources needed: Classical music pieces, scarves or dance fans

Other Benefits: Co-ordination, energy, focus, trust.

Instructions: Give the children two colourful scarves and encourage them to fly around like butterflies to the classical music. Butterflies is an excellent activity for children to use their imagination. Most children will love classical music if they are introduced to it at an early stage.

Suggestion of classical music pieces:

Carmen Overture, Georges Bizet

In the Hall of the Mountain King, Edward Grieg

The Flight of the Bumble Bee, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, Henry Hall Orchestra

The Nutcracker, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi

Carnival of the Animals, Camille Saint Saens

Hoe-Down, Aaron Copland

Hungarian Dance No.5, Johannes Brahms


The above activities are from Movement Start by Julie Meighan.

Movement Stories for children ages 3 to 6 by Helen Landalf


Posted in Drama for children

Self-Regulation Strategies, Ideas and Activities for ECEC Practitioners




Self-Regulation Strategies, Ideas and Activities for ECEC Practitioners

When implementing trauma-sensitive practices in ECEC settings it is important

To focus on relationships

To promote safety and trustworthiness

To engage in choice and collaboration

To encourage skill-building and competence

To create a safe and secure environment for children, which has very clear boundaries and a consistent structure.


Comfort Box

A comfort box is a physical box that is used to distract a child from negative thoughts and encourage more positive, soothing ones. It is an anchor of comfort when a child is experiencing periods of anxiety.

Your child’s comfort box should include only items that create happy memories, soothing sensations or pleasant feelings using the five senses. Here are some examples of items to consider including for each sense:

  • Smell: bathtime soap or your body spray/aftershave
  • Taste: their favourite sweet treat or snack
  • Sight: a picture or drawing of a fun, family experience
  • Touch: a comfort blanket or favourite cuddly toy
  • Sound: an audiobook, piece of music or sound of a loved one talking

There are lots of different things that you can include in a comfort box obviously, you will want to tailor it to the children in your care. Here are some more ideas of things in you can things you can put in a comfort box for children.

Bottle of bubbles

Fidget toys such as fidget spinners, Tangle Jr. or Puffer ball

Cuddly toy

Weighted cushions/ blankets

Sensory tunnel

Yoga poses cards



Plastic snow globes

Stress balls

Play doh, clay or silly putty

Flashing toys

Pipe cleaners – to twist and bend

Spinning top

Harmonica, whistle bell, chimes

Small mirror


Sensory bottles

Therapeutic stories deal with anxiety, worry or loss.

If you want to write therapeutic stories for children the following books are useful resources:

Using Story Telling as a Therapeutic Tool with Children by Margot Sunderland

Using Stories to Build Bridges with Traumatized Children: Creative Ideas for Therapy, Life Story Work, Direct Work and Parenting by Kim S. Golding

Posted in clay, Clay Play therapy, play therapy

The therapeutic benefits of clay in play therapy

potter at work

Clay work is like the Cinderella of the art therapies. She still waits to be discovered with her magic, her beauty and her ability to transform the wells of human suffering into places of insight and celebration. Her dark earthly solid mass, often appearing in greyish, brownish or terra-cotta dress, is hardly alluring at first sight. Touching this sticky cold mass, you sense she has a longing and determination to merge with your skin.” (Sherwood, 2010)

Children have always played with clay however more recently it has become a valuable tool for play therapists as it provides children with a natural method of connection and expression. This blog post examines the therapeutic benefits of using clay in play therapy. Initially, when I started play therapy with my clients, I did not include clay in my tool kit. After a few months, clay was introduced into the playroom and it was very apparent to me from the outset that my clients were instantly drawn to it. They all used the clay but interestingly they used it in very different ways. Its many qualities such as its strength, malleability and its concreteness make it very responsive to human feelings. My clients liked feeling, modelling, squashing, rolling and pounding the clay. I felt undoubtedly it was instrumental in moving the clients forward in their therapeutic process. Children are naturally attracted to clay and are drawn to its visual appeal (Henley, 2002). It is a strong expressive medium and is ideal for enhancing children’s development and holistic learning (White, 2006). This blog post gives some insight into the therapeutic benefits of using clay in a play therapy setting.  I will do this by examining relevant literature on the subject and by using some of my own personal experiences dealing with clay as a play therapist.

Landreth (2002) states that it is difficult for children to access their feelings at a verbal level as children do not have the cognitive or verbal ability to express what they are feeling in a manner that can be expressed into words.  Since the inception of play therapy, clay has always been an important tool for a therapist (Axline, 1947; Landreth, 2002). It is advocated by many psychotherapists as one of the primary devices for helping clients to explore difficult concepts and express fundamental emotions in a non-verbal manner (Freud 2006). There has not been much research done on the therapeutic aspects of clay or clay as a therapeutic medium in general (Sherwood, 2010, Gavron and Sholt, 2006, Souter-Anderson, 2010). The dearth of research and books on the subject may be a result of the belief that clay therapy comes under the umbrella of art therapy. Souter- Anderson (2010) in her book Touching Clay, Touching What?” refutes this and claims clay therapy has a “unique theoretical anchoring in the same way that sand-play music therapy and authentic movement have their respective theoretical bases” (Souter-Anderson, 2010: 13).

In order to explore the therapeutic aspects of clay, it is important to briefly describe the role clay has played in history. Clay products such as vases, pots, symbolic figures have been present in past civilizations. In addition to the functional aspects of clay in creating a variety of containing tools, it has been used in many cultures as a method of expressing the religious dimensions in human life. Clay originates from the earth and as the earth is viewed as the source of all things it can be inferred that clay can anchor very powerful emotions. Sholt and Gavron (2006: 66) claim there is a link “between symbolic clay products and the mental-spiritual realm of humankind early in human history. Accordingly, clay figures which are made of the earth may reflect the connection between the human mental world and the material world”

Clay involves a very primal mode of expression and communication as it involves touching (Henley, 2002).  Tactile contact is actually the first mode of communication that a baby learns (Bowlby, 1969). It is the sense of touch that enables people to understand the very boundaries of themselves (Sunderland, 2004).  Touch, before all else, is the primary, non-verbal way a child has to relating to its mother.  From the moment of birth, touch is the way in which feelings are communicated and experienced. The sense of touch is closely linked to early attachment. (Bowlby, 1969). Attachment is the bond that develops between a baby and its primary caregiver.  It is characterised by the interaction patterns which develop in order to fulfil the infants’ needs and emotional development (Bowlby, 1969). According to Bowlby (1969) not developing a secure attachment in early life, could prove damaging to the child emotionally and these difficulties could filter through to adult life. Souter-Anderson (2010) states that many therapists see their clients’ relationship with clay as a metaphor for their attachments with different people in their lives. Cattanach (1996:196) states that the medium of clay has its own specific qualities and says “it responds and reacts and has to be grappled with, in the same way as a human relationship does if it is to progress”. Baring this in mind it could be concluded using clay in the playroom could help children or adults not only to explore their early attachment bonds but also help them examine and look at their current relationships.

Clay leaves an imprint and feelings move through hands into clay making the invisible visible. In addition to touch, modelling clay requires body movement. Touch and movement are interlinked.  Real past memories and the “central window to the unconscious” can be unlocked through touch and movement (Oaklander, 1988). Clay therapy can allow the clients to see their inner trauma and places of wounding (Sherwood, 2010). Nez (1991) made use of clay in order to facilitate healing with adults who had difficult and traumatic childhoods. He found that clay encouraged a more spontaneous and less controlled expression and response than other art mediums. He stated that using clay put the client in touch with primitive sensations and emotion.

Clay is cathartic in nature as it allows the child to express an array of emotions. Catharsis allows for the release of previously restrained and interrupted affective release via emotional expression such as pounding clay (Schaefer, 2006).  When children feel stuck, frustrated and overwhelmed by life challenges, the use of clay in therapy provides a safe place for releasing stored up thoughts and emotions and unlearning old, destructive or unproductive habits. Some children find this particularly soothing and it can be useful for releasing tension or can be a safe outlet for frustration and aggression (Hart, 1992 as cited in Sholt & Gavron, 2006). Sholt and Gavron (2006:67) state that working with clay could ” function as a control window to these unconscious non-verbal representations and maybe helpful with people who find it hard to express themselves verbally or who are defensive.

Clay is malleable and three dimensional and it can become anything a child wants it to become. It can embody a representational form or an abstract one, for example, a child could create a shape that represents a monster which could look like an animal or a fantasy figure or it just might be a shape that maybe symbolic.  Once form has emerged from the clay, it may become fixed and permanent, or be crushed and rolled back up into a ball. Creating different forms can help a child find a way of expressing their inner emotions and thoughts.

Souter-Anderson (2010) states that clay is particularly useful when exploring feelings of anger. It can also act as an outlet to prevent the build-up of negative emotions and feelings in the child. Macks (1990) as cited in Henley (2002) talks about a client who dug her nails into the clay over and over again. He says that in order for “the therapeutic process to progress than all suppressed or imploded anger must first be imploded” (Sherwood, 2010:72). I found this to be very true in my experience of working with a nine-year-old boy. He was referred to play therapy as he had some difficulties mixing with other children in the school. He became very aggressive and anger at times and the school were concerned. His mother said he appeared sad a lot of the time. He was an only child who lived alone with his mother. His parents were young when he was born and his father is a drug addict. His father has been in and out of prison due to his drug addiction. He does see his father but it is very irregularly and he has come to see him as an acquaintance rather than a father.  He used to just come into the room and throw the clay at the board. I noticed he did this when he was annoyed or angry about something not necessarily his father but something that had happen in school or if he was angry with his mother or teachers. He eventually made it into a game. He drew a circle on the board and the nearer he threw the clay to the centre of the circle the more points he received. Sherwood (2010:105) states in her book is a particularly good way “for the release of anger since it splats on the board. The release is dramatic”.

Clay being an earthy medium by its very nature can take a lot of anger and rage. Clay in therapy provides a medium to work through issues such as anger, grief, and fear and move the client on in their therapeutic process. Another client used the clay to represent a lot of different emotions. The client was a ten-year-old girl that lived with her mother, her brother and half-sister in a disadvantaged area in the city. Her parents had separated two years previously and at the time the sessions commenced she was having difficulty accepting the situation. Her father and his new girlfriend had a baby and he moved in with her and created a new family unit. She did not consider herself to be part of this new family and over the course of the sessions, she became more isolated from her father and felt abandoned by him. She had difficulty using any of the tool kit but when the clay was introduced she used to throw at the board and the walls. She used to feel energized and it would improve her mood. Interestingly, in the latter phase of her play therapy, she began to make smiley faces. On one occasion she used the clay to do this. This client found it very difficult to talk about her real feelings so I felt the clay gave her an outlet to express them in a non-verbal way.

Self esteem

Working with clay can be rewarding for children who are hesitant about their creativity. You need very little skill to use clay and so there is hardly any chance of failure (Henley, 2002). The play therapy is non-directive and as the play therapist does not enforce any expectations or boundaries on the client, he can express himself freely in a confident matter and without restraint. Additionally, the important aspect of using clay which is often ignored in play therapy as we focus on the process rather than the product is the way it enables children to produce lasting pieces. This permanency of creation promotes a child’s self-esteem and when functional pieces are produced (e.g. cups, bowls) children see themselves as capable of engaging in a truly purposeful activity (White as cited in Schaffer, 2006).

I had this experience with one of my clients. This specific client had abandonment issues and was suffering from low self-esteem. In the early sessions, she preferred to talk but in one session she choose to work with the clay.  She made a SpongeBob out of the clay and she wanted to take it home however this conflicted with the boundaries we had set out for the play therapy sessions. She had agreed to leave everything in the playroom until her therapy was finished. However, this seemed very important to her and up to this point, she hadn’t asked to take anything else out of the room so  I spoke to my supervisor who told me to get her to make another one that she could specifically show her mother and her friends. The next session we created another SpongeBob in the room and she took it away.

The next week she told me how great her friends and mother thought it was.  She was extremely pleased with herself. The fact is clay can give children the material to make something out of nothing. They can put their own imprint on clay and therefore they bring something from the unconscious to the conscious (Heimlich and Mark, 1990 as cited in Sholt and Gavron, 2006). Clay products are tangible and can be examined at a later stage and the importance of this was evident in the case of my client. She used to look and admire her clay creations every week. Play provides children with unlimited opportunities to create, through the construction of clay, whereby they gain a sense of confidence and self-efficacy that boosts their self-esteem (Schaefer 2006).  Oaklander (1988) also advocates projective techniques such as clay sculpting which she claims is very useful to facilitate children and help them explore negative self-image and increase self-acceptance and self-esteem. I found from my own clients that using clay can be a satisfying experience that enables a child who can be hesitant about their creativity to be creative.

Group work

For many years clay has been used by psychotherapists and art therapist. in not only in As clay has been advocated by therapists as something that advances the therapeutic process individual but also group therapies (Anderson, 1995; Mattes and Robbins, 1981 as cited in Sholt and Gavron, 2006). Using clay can also be a very social activity. When appropriate, groups of children with similar presenting concerns are encouraged to interact together verbal communication skills, confidence and social skills are developed and promoted. Children will often exchange ideas and suggestions on how something can be made, and being able to show another child how to make something can be particularly rewarding (White, 2006). Co-operation and sharing of ideas in groups promote a sense of identity and a sense of belonging.  In a study carried out by Sweeney and Thomas as cited in Souter-Anderson (2010) focusing on the issue of transition, clay was the second most popular medium used. Sand tray work was the first. I found this very apparent in a group of four girls who were aged eleven I had for group play therapy. The overall aim of the therapy was to enable the clients to become more confident, more self-assured and to have a more positive image about themselves. One of the girls had difficulty in each session trying to decide what to do. The others in the group would just ignore her but one of the weeks we were using clay the other girls gave her ideas on what she could make. She felt supported and gave the strength to finish her clay model. She made a face. Up to this point, she had never completed anything. After she had completed her model with their direction, they as a group decided without being asked they decided to make a clay model together. They decided to make a plaque and decorate it with glitter and stars. The girl who could never complete anything to that point became very much involved and suggested that they are put their initials on the plaque.

The group had been quite separate up to the session we used the clay and I felt it was definitely instrumental in the bond in the group becoming closer and for moving them forward in the therapy. The client who found it difficult to decide what to do every week became much more confident and uninhibited when working with the clay. She put the clay all over her face (see photo below). She was enjoying the freedom of using the clay with no pressure to get it right or produce a perfect model. Another interesting observation I made was when one of the girls in the group made an ashtray for her father she spoke to the group of how she was very worried he would die if he didn’t stop smoking. These revelations led to another member of the group opening up about her fears for her mother who also smokes see photo below it is the clay model at the front. I felt this was certainly true with this particular group I had.

Using clay as a metaphor

Using clay to create metaphorical meaning can directly progress a client’s therapy. As mentioned earlier clay allows a client to access to their unconscious. If a client can tap into their unconscious they can begin to face the underlying cause of their difficulties. Winner (1998) as cited in Henley (2002) says that metaphors are a more effective way of capturing meaning than talking. The use of metaphors allows for the exploration of client’s social and emotional difficulties without having to confront the issues directly or resort to negative criticism (Henley, 2002) by creating symbolic equivalents to their thoughts feelings and behaviours. Working with metaphor as a means of problem-solving is an enjoyable and fun way of confronting serious issues.  The photo below shows one of my client’s clay representations of how he sees his mother. He sees as her as a snake.  It wasn’t a negative thing as the snake can represent protection and transformation. Henley (2002) states the in order to use clay as a suitable therapeutic medium it is important that the child has some ability in to think abstractly. Thus he believes that using this medium is most suitable for children over the age of 6. He believes that younger children may enjoy using the clay they would not necessary to benefit from it therapeutically.

This blog post explored some of the therapeutic benefits of using clay in play therapy. I have discovered that it undoubtedly helps a play therapy client express their emotions and this is due to the tactile nature of the clay. It is this mode of primal communication (touching) that helps emotions such as anger, greed, and grief be expressed in the clay. Using clay therapeutically allows you to grab an emotion and look at it in the face, touch it, shape it and feel it. It makes the intangible touchable.  From my research and my own personal experience, I have concluded that clay is extremely cathartic as clients have a strong emotional experience working with the clay. Due it is to its ability to be three dimensional, it can represent real-life objects. It can lead to regression and according to Henley (2002) regression that occurs through clay work leads to a cathartic release. It is powerful and penetrating and it enables an enormous release and transformation without the client having to talk about what is going on. However, the use of clay can tap into the unconscious mind and a therapeutic conversation about the visible product with the client can unlock the hidden memories. I have also seen how clay can act as a catalyst in encouraging group interaction and it helps with self-esteem and self-confidence. It also helps clients develop their social skills and helps the group members to support one another. It also can be instrumental in developing empathy. I feel that clay work that is symbolic or metaphoric can facilitate verbal communication and encourage people to speak about matters they wouldn’t have normally disclosed. Additionally, I think because of the need to focus on the clay when one manipulates clay can led to improved concentration.

I have a chapter about clay play therapy in the book below:


 Axline, V. (1947). Play Therapy: The inner dynamics of childhood. Cambridge: MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Axline, V. (1969). Play Therapy. New York: Ballantine Books.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and Loss (vol. 1). Hammondsworth: Penguin.

Cattanach, A. (1993). Process in Art Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publications.

Freud, S. (2006). The Interpretation of Dreams. London: Penguin Group.

Henley, D. (1996). Clayworks in Art Therapy: Plying the Sacred Circle. London: Jessica Kingsley Publications.

Landreth, G. (2002 ). Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship. New York: Routledge.

Oaklander, V. (1978). Windows to Our  Children. New York: The centre for Gestalt Development Inc.

Schaffer, C.  & Kadoun, H. (Eds) (2006)Contemporary Play Therapy. New York: Guildford Press.

Sherwood, P. (2010). The Healing Art of Clay Therapy. Melbourne: Acer Press.

Sholt, M. & Gavron, T. (2006). Therapeutic Qualities of Clay-work in Art Therapy and Psychotherapy: A Review. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 23 (2) pp.66-72. AATA, Inc.

Souter-Anderson (2010) Touching Clay, Touching What? Dorset: Archive Publishing.

Sunderland, M. (2003). Using Storytelling as a Therapeutic Tool with Children. Oxon: Speechmark Publishing Ltd.