Elevate Learning with Drama Circles: The Ultimate Novel Study Culminating Activity

03 July 2023

Are you tired of the routine book reports and presentations for novel studies? Do you dream of adding an engaging, interactive, and imaginative twist to your novel read aloud? Well, if you haven't heard of them before, welcome to the world of Drama Circles, an incredible tool that can take your novel study culminating activity to new heights.

Breaking down Drama Circles

I started to make drama circles over 20 years ago for my classroom.  Over the years, my drama circles have evolved from random fun topics that got my students building confidence in drama activities, to a more engaging and kinesthetic activity, offering students a new way to delve into their favorite books or learn more subject-based content.

Why Drama Circles?

Now, you might be wondering, why Drama Circles? How do they provide more value than a traditional book report or worksheet?

1. Active Participation

Firstly, Drama Circles encourage active participation, acting as a great student engagement strategy. Each student plays an integral part, making them feel responsible for their contribution and promoting active learning.  They must follow along (encouraging active listening skills), then follow the instructions on their card to perform once it is their turn.

2. Develops Social-Emotional Skills

Drama Circles are wonderful for building social-emotional skills. They foster empathy as students step into the shoes of different characters, experiencing their struggles, joys, and dilemmas. This is particularly impactful with books like "Wonder," which delve into themes of acceptance and kindness.

3. Enhances Comprehension

By acting out scenes from the novel, students deepen their understanding and comprehension of the plot. Becoming the characters, explaining their motivations, and acting out the conflicts, makes novels like "The City of Ember" or "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" more vivid and engaging.

4. Creativity and Imagination

Unleashing their creativity, students reimagine scenes from novels, add dialogue, and even craft new scenarios. This is a powerful exercise that fires up their imagination, making the learning process fun and exciting.

5. Boosts Confidence 

Standing up in front of the class, performing and expressing oneself helps students improve their communication skills, boosts their self-confidence, and reduces stage fright.  And this is a great thing to remind them of when they are nervous about an upcoming oral presentation - look what you've already done in the classroom!

Implementing Drama Circles in Your Classroom

You can kick-start Drama Circles in your classroom by trying one out at the end of your novel study.  They are easy and no-prep - just print, cut out the cards, and go!  Assemble your students in a large, standing circle (you can do this in the classroom by moving around some desks).  Hand out the cards, in random order, to all students in the class.  Depending on your numbers, some students may have more than one card.  (This is where your 'teacher wizardry' comes in - match the amount of dramatic activity and difficulty of lines to the student's ability as you hand out the cards.  As the lines are bolded on the cards, this is very easy to do quickly).  After you hand out the cards, allow a few minutes for students to read over and plan their moves - they may also want to check with a peer beside them if they have any questions about the words or the meanings.  And then, that's it.  Have the person with the first card step into the middle of the circle and start the drama.  Students do not read out the card numbers, and they only read out the bolded lines on the card.  The actions are not in bold, they are simply to be performed.  Students must listen and follow along so they know when their part is, however, if a student misses their line, the cards are numbered so you can easily pick up where you left off.

Take a step back and allow the children to steer the action. You'll be amazed at how they interpret the text, bring it to life, and, in the process, deepen their understanding of the novel.  And you'll be even more amazed as some of your shyest students come of their shells.

If this is their first drama circle, students sometimes start a little shy.  However, it is amazing to watch how quickly the students catch on and how popular the drama circles become with a little practice as the format for every drama circle is the same.  One teacher friend said, "My students loved these!! They would beg to do them. It was so wonderful to see kids come out of their shells to act out parts. My 5th graders could be a tough crowd at times but they ALL laughed and had fun together during these. Some of my favorite moments from the school year!"


Why show a movie at the end of your novel study when you can get your students out of their seats, improving their comprehension and presentation skills, and maybe even grab a drama mark or too (yes, a rubric is included) with a drama circle?  Trust me.  They'll like them.

Take a peek at my new (with more being added all the time) line of Drama Circle Novel Culminating Activities by clicking HERE or on some of the titles below:

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