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Playwriting Exercise: Baby Photo Prompt

In this article you’ll find instructions for a playwriting choice board exercise. For this exercise, students should bring in a photo of them as a baby or toddler. It needs to be a physical copy, not a screen capture on a phone, because some of the options require students to trade the image with a partner or put it up on the wall. If students are uncomfortable with bringing in a photo of themselves or aren't able to do so, they can bring in a photo of another baby or toddler — perhaps a parent or sibling, or a magazine cutout or printout from the internet.

Depending on your timeframe and the size of the assignment you wish your students to complete, you can have students select one or more options from the choices below. Two of the choices are individual, two are for pairs, and two are for groups. So, for example, you may wish for students to complete one individual selection and one partner/group selection. If you want to add a performing component, you can have your students workshop the pieces aloud after they’ve been written. Adapt the exercise to best suit the needs of your class.

You’ll find an evaluation rubric in the giveaway below.

Choice Board Options:

Individual: Write a monologue from the perspective of your younger self. It could be in the voice of the baby or toddler, or in an adult voice speaking about childlike topics. It can be comedic, dramatic, whatever you wish.

Individual: Write a monologue from the perspective of the child about to have a total meltdown or temper tantrum. What happened that made them so upset? How did they get from the state they were in in the photo to melting down? How can you write the monologue to indicate that it should have different levels, not just screaming?

Partner: Write a scene together in which your two younger selves meet for the first time. Where are they? Why are they meeting? Who are they with? What other details should you include?

Partner: Trade photos with a classmate and write a character sketch about their baby photo. It doesn't have to be accurate — feel free to make up details! Trade the character sketches back and write a scene together from the perspective of the babies in the character sketches, using the details your partner created. Try to stick to what they wrote, not what you know about yourself.

Group: The teacher will collect all the photos and post them on the wall in small groups (3–5 per group, depending on the size of the class). Those students will get together and write a Rugrats-style scene featuring the group of babies on an adventure.

Group: In small groups, students will write a comedic “baby newscast” scene. Using the details in the photos, each group member will write a segment about issues facing babies, from the perspective of the baby. For example, if one of the baby photos features a baby with food all over their face, the baby might express frustration that they’re messy. A baby wearing overalls might discuss baby fashion dos and don’ts. One of the students’ babies can act as the host or anchor of the newscast to tie all the pieces together.

Click here for a free evaluation rubric.
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