Process drama to explore wellbeing / worries

This process drama was written by Judy Norton (primary rep for Drama NZ) and workshopped at the Drama New Zealand conference in 2019. The plan is usually only available to paid up Drama New Zealand members but Judy has kindly given permission for it to be shared here – thanks Judy!

The drama is based around a quality picture book,  Silly Billy by Anthony Browne. Judy says:

“I use a lot of picture books in my drama work. They provide rich material to work with and immediately engage the students. Anthony Browne’s picture books are visual stunning and explore a vast range of themes. They open up not just opportunities for students to foster their imagination and creativity, but allows students to use critical thinking and explore universal themes that are vital to them.  “Talking with children about the possible meanings and different perspectives in a story and sharing questions and ‘wonderings’ are also vital if children are to go beyond surface meanings and explore issues, themes, dilemmas, characters and their motivations more deeply” (Ewing and Saunders, The School Drama Book, 2016). Silly Billy is a story thats instantly identifiable. At one time or another, children have all worried. It provides a spring board to discuss feelings and identify appropriate strategies to deal with them.  This book also allows for an integration of multiple curriculum areas. Students can respond to the text in literacy, with opportunities for descriptive, diary or imaginative writing.  There are art opportunities including creating their own worry dolls. They could paint or draw worry dolls. There is the option to explore the history of worry dolls, sample food from Central America and learn more about Guatemala. I have created an 8-lesson unit, each lesson would take approximately 50 minutes. There are opportunities for additional or alternative activities at points during the unit. 

There’s a lot to like about this book – and the drama. Perhaps best of all is that children are encouraged to see actions Billy might take to deal with his worries without slipping into trite answers or denying the complexities of the issue. Unusually for process drama, Judy’s plan doesn’t use teacher in role (though of course it could be brought in if you wanted to…) Beginner teachers will enjoy the ‘step by step’ instructions offered here, while those with more experience might enjoy using the plan as a starting point for their own planning including, potentially, as the hook for a Mantle of the Expert experience. If you do make use of it to create something new, do please acknowledge Judy and Drama NZ in your planning.

Judy’s plan was originally written for the Drama New Zealand primary resources page. Become a member of Drama New Zealand and you’ll be able to access the other stuff on there too!

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