Classroom Exercise Teaching Drama

Round-Up: Warm-Up Activities that Encourage Communication

Warm-up Activities
Written by Kerry Hishon

In this round-up, we’ve gathered a whole host of useful warm-up games that you can use in your drama classroom that focus on different aspects of communication. Communication isn’t just students talking to each other – it encompasses many different ways of sharing stories, thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

Vocal Technique & Clarity

We’re starting with the basics – vocal technique and clarity. If your students are speaking too quickly or garbling their words, the audience won’t be able to understand the story they are trying to communicate. 

A simple, yet effective warm-up for vocal technique and clarity is to recite the alphabet out loud, as a full group, in a slow, over-enunciated, and exaggerated manner. Have students open their mouths and eyes wide, and really focus on drawing out every single sound from each letter. And yes, you will all look silly together!

For an additional challenge, once you have gone through the alphabet once slowly, you can either speed up the tempo of the group alphabet (without losing any clarity), recite the alphabet backwards, or have students do a gesture (such as bending their knees or clapping their hands) on every third letter. 

Try these warm-ups too:

Active Listening

Are your students listening to understand, or are they just waiting until they get to speak again? Active listening is a huge part of effective communication. There is nothing more frustrating than talking to someone and feeling like you aren’t being listened to.

Here’s a fun warm-up game for students to practice active listening while practicing their improvisation skills. Have students sit or stand in a circle. Going around the circle, give each student a number in succession – 3, 5, and 7. Give the students a topic to talk about or a story starter prompt. The first student starts the story with 3 words, the second student continues with 5 words, the third student continues with 7 words, the fourth student continues with 3 words, and so on. It’s up to you to decide whether the story should be silly or serious. For example, here is a story about birds:

Student 1: A bird named

Student 2: George decided to go to

Student 3: South America to visit his friend. So

Student 4: he purchased a

Student 5: ticket for the train. However,

Student 6: once he arrived, he realized he forgot

Student 7: his favourite suitcase.

Students need to listen to each other to continue the story in a way that makes sense. Feel free to mix up the number of words each student gets to use.

Try these warm-ups too:

Nonverbal Communication

It’s not just about what your students say, it’s how they portray it with their bodies and faces. Try this warm-up exercise (which is also great for working on active listening). Narrate a simple, yet descriptive story of a student walking to school. While you are narrating the story, have students move about the space, acting out their interpretations of what you’re describing. For example:

“You exit your house and lock the door behind you. You heft your backpack across your back. It’s heavy with textbooks and binders, but it’s a nice sunny day with a slight breeze. You’re feeling good – your homework is done, you’ve packed a lunch, and you’re wearing your favourite shirt. As you’re walking, you notice a strange feeling on your foot. You pause and look at the bottom of your shoe and see that you’ve stepped in a large wad of gum. You don’t want to touch it with your hands, so you try different ways to scrape it off, but it stays stubbornly stuck. While you’re trying to get rid of the gum on your shoe, you notice an odd, wet feeling on your back. You look behind you and notice that your water bottle is leaking through your backpack onto your clothes…”

And so on! Make the story as long or short as you need to for the warm-up. Try to leave your descriptions clear enough for students to come up with ideas on the fly, but open enough for students to come up with creative ways of acting out your narration.

Try these warm-ups too:

Click here for two more warm-up games for communication: Interpretations and the Bean Bag Name Game.

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.

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About the author

Kerry Hishon

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. View her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.