Teaching Tip – Comic Strip Drama

This is an amazing activity that I have used time and time again in the classroom. The kids really respond well to it, it doesn’t take much in the way of planning, and it can give you a quick and easy drama mark if you need one for an upcoming report card.

All you need for this is a few days worth of the newspaper. You don’t even need the entire paper; all you need is the comics page.

Next, let the students form their own groups of two or three people.

Give each group one page of comics. Their task is to pick a comic strip that they would like to act out. If they cannot find a comic from the page you have given them, they can trade with another group. It is important to have different comic strip pages for each group so that two groups won’t end up performing the same strip.

In most comic strips there are only two or three characters. If the students have chosen a comic that has more characters in it, they will need to get creative by having a member act out more than one part.

I usually do this activity in the second term so that the students are already familiar with the rubric I use to assess drama activities.

I give the students ten minutes or so to decide how they will act out this comic strip in front of the class. We review the rubric together and I tell them exactly what I will be looking for in their presentations; 1) loud, clear voices 2) action – they need to move around 3) props – if needed 4) they need to establish a sense of setting and character, and 5) they need to work together as a group. All of these things can be assessed with the rubric.

Since comic strips don’t have a lot of dialog in them, I also expect the students to memorize their lines. Before they perform their version of the play, I collect their comic strip so I can follow along with it to see whether or not they have communicated the essence of the strip properly. They are allowed to add extra scenes, characters, or props but they must use the dialog as written.

Not every student needs to have a speaking part. I have had students play a lamp, a dog, or a tree before in their presentations. This allows the students to be creative and allows those who are not good at speaking in public a chance to be part of the performance in a non-threatening way.

I really like using this activity. I have found that the students always want a chance to perform a second strip as well. I usually end up having to do this activity two weeks in a row due to the enthusiasm of the students. That is a good thing and a great way to get them excited about drama.

Remember to check the Teaching Tips Table of Contents for more great tips, strategies, lessons, websites, and ideas you can use in your classroom. So far there are sixty tips there with a new one being added each week. If you have any ideas, you would like to add, please contact me.  I’d love to hear from you.