Drama Circles

19 March 2016
Are you looking for a fun, cooperative learning activity that builds confidence in your students AND helps with following directions AND oral fluency practice?  A Drama Circle just may be the answer!

Drama Circles aren't just for drama classes - they are great for any class, at any time.  My class loves them so much they don't even realize they working on so many academic skills at the same time.

Drama Circles Set the Tone
I like to start using drama circles right from the very beginning of the school year as it can really help set the tone for a successful year.

  • Students need to actively listen to each other to keep the activity going.
  • They must wait their turn, and give their attention to one student.
  • They need to cooperate with their classmates and build on the previous action.
  • They need to follow the directions given to them.
  • They will learn to be open to new experiences.
  • They will share a fun activity that has them learning to be comfortable with acting, performing, and reading aloud in front of their classmates.
How They Work
Students assemble in a circle, facing each other.  The teacher hands out the cards in a random order (there are 40 cards in most of the drama circles, so some students will have one card and some students will have two).  From there, the activity is similar to the "I have ... who has?" game because students need to listen to their classmates to know when it is their turn to act out the instructions on their card.  Students are encouraged to use large, over-the-top actions and reactions because it not only adds to the fun, but it also makes it easier for the other students to follow along.

Tips to Make Drama Circles Even More Successful
Sometimes you get that class that just LOVES to perform - this class won't need any help with drama circles.  They they will beg you to do them ... every single day.  But sometimes you have a class that is a little quieter, or a little more shy, or just lacking in the confidence needed to perform ... but having done drama circles from the very beginning of my teaching career, I have a few suggestions.
  • Number the cards on the back (the majority of the drama circles I have made are numbered, but some of my very earliest ones are not).  That way, if the circle breaks down, you know which number needs to go next.
  • Scan the cards as you are handing them out - give cards with a little more talking and actions to some of the more confident students in your class who love performing - you know who they are.  ;)  
  • Some teachers highlight the speaking parts on the cards - I have used a bold font for the speaking parts on my newer drama circles.
  • After handing out the cards, allow students a minute or two to read over their cards.  They can check with the teacher or person beside them if they have any questions about some of the words, or brainstorm ways to perform the actions on the card - it helps build excitement this way.
  • If time permits, let them repeat the circle if it doesn't go perfectly smoothly at first - I have found this is THE KEY to performing drama circles with a class that is a little more subdued - the second time is always better.  Let students switch cards with others in the circle - they will often see a card that they really want to perform - and will have already planned their actions and responses.
  • Have fun and let loose.
  • If you have the space and the weather is cooperative, take the circles outside!
  • And lastly ... but most importantly ... get in there and participate with your students!  Make memories with them.  :)
Fairy Tale Drama Circle
Are you convinced yet?  I've got a fun FREE Fairy Tale Drama Circle you can download and try with your class right away.  Just click HERE or on the picture to the right to grab a copy.  You can check out ALL my drama circles by clicking HERE.

We've had so much fun with the drama circles in my classroom, I've made some sets of Math Circles which follow the same format.  They are SO.MUCH.FUN when reviewing a concept right before a test - anything that gets them up and moving while learning is always a HIT in my class.  Click HERE to see all my math circles.


  1. I have a couple of your Drama Circles, but I always start with the Fairy Tale one, especially when we're talking about stage directions and how you read them, but don't speak them. The kids always start off a little nervous but four or five cards in, they're howling! They always ask to do these again. Love them!

  2. I used your Fairy Tale Drama Circle for the 5th through 8th grade summer camp class I am teaching. The students loved it and asked for more. That is why I just purchased 2 additional Drama Circles. Thank you for creating them!