Skip to main content

The first resource post in this topic is a Drama Workshop "manual" from Amy Crane, one of our most prolific drama and puppet lesson and idea contributors here at The third post in the thread is an older Drama Workshop manual that shares some different ideas and and additional tips.

In the past few years, our Writing Team has expanded what's creatively possible in a "Drama" Workshop. They've brought in music, movement, taking photos, shadow theater, blacklight, and many "scriptless" techniques.  You'll see some of the Team's techniques discussed in this public forum! Go to our Writing Team Lesson Sets to see their Drama Workshop lesson plans (Supporting Member access required).

What is the "Drama Workshop" ?

In the Workshop Rotation Model for Sunday School, the "Drama Workshop" is a Bible lesson that primarily uses playful drama techniques as its main activity to both teach the story and explore its meaning.

goliath visits Sunday school drama

The Rotation Model's Drama Workshop lesson often takes place in a specially designated and drama-conducive classroom or space through which different grades rotate each week.

The room typically has plenty of space for moving around and staging different types of re-enactments. The room also has a collection of costumes, props, and things like an easy way to quickly hang a backdrop. In today's Drama Workshop, there's also usually a tripod for recording videos and photos, and a big screen to show them on.

prison front Sunday school dramaIn a traditional classroom, the teacher would rarely go to the trouble of gathering all the props and staging for just one lesson, but in the Rotation Model, because the teacher would present the same basic drama lesson for several weeks in a row to a new group each week, they can take the time to set things up and not have to tear them down each week. And the teacher gets better and better each week at delivering a fun drama-infused learning experience.

For example, few teachers would take the time to turn their classroom into "Paul's Prison" for just one class period. But because there is a designated space and different groups coming each week, the teacher can justify the effort to make Paul's Jail --or any other special staging or prop needed to tell a story.

All that being said, all types of teachers and models can and do glean from the Rotation Model's Drama Workshop resources.

Updated in 2023

The Drama Workshop  ~ An Introduction and How-to

by Amy Crane

drama1I originally wrote a version of this manual for the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in Tampa, Florida where I first taught in both Drama and Puppet Workshops in the Rotation Model. You can see many of my lessons and ideas in the Bible Story Lesson Forums, and I have been helping the Writing Team write its Drama Workshops as well.

Since I originally wrote this manual, the concept of what you can do in the Drama Workshop has greatly and creatively expanded. There is perhaps no greater resource for all these new and exciting ideas (with full lesson plans) than the Writing Team Lesson Sets.

These days in the Drama Workshop, it's rare to see kids in Bible costumes reading from scripts. Instead, teachers are using scriptless and "less-script" techniques. They're combining "acting out" with narrating and improv, interacting with music-videos, "movement" and motion, recording songs, and doing shadow plays. Our Drama Workshop gurus have even experimented with moving to a song or scripture in blacklight, and they've developed small-scale "tabletop" drama approaches in our the LEGO and Storytable Workshops.

The following manual shares some general concepts and techniques and setup ideas I and other Drama Workshop aficionados have developed. To see how they work in an actual lesson plan, look up your favorite Bible story in our Lesson Forums and select "Drama Workshop."

If you're a Supporting Member, you have a treasure-trove of super-creative drama-infused lesson plans at your fingertips. Go the Writing Team's forum and pick a couple of Bible stories to see their drama lessons.

What is the goal of the Drama Workshop?

The goal of the Drama Workshop is to get kids out of their seats in playful ways to learn, share, and understand a Bible story.

Drama in all its forms makes learning fun, interactive, and memorable. It invites students to express the story and its meaning with their voices, bodies, movements, and dialog.

It helps students explore the characters, motivations, and real life dilemmas in a story and connect it to their own story and experience today.

Acting together helps build relationships, creates laughter, and breaks down walls. And it often produces a recording that the teacher can play back for reinforcement and review of key teaching points.

But what about "scripts"?

That's what many people assume the Drama Workshop is full of, and indeed, you will find "scripts" here at  But especially in the Writing Team's lesson sets, we've been trying to get away from "stand in a costume and read" techniques, and using more creative approaches that all kids can participate in, even those who are self-conscious or who don't read well (or at all). Indeed, we've moved toward a creative play model rather than a "put on a play" model, though that too has its time and place.


The goal isn't to repeat word-for-word what's in a Bible story, but to take what we have read and turn it into a drama the EXPLORES the MEANING of the story as it is retold. Like all good workshop lessons, good life application is not an option, it's a feature!

The Drama Workshop Teacher

Most lessons that use dramatic techniques require a teacher who is good at guiding rather than prescribing, someone comfortable with creative chaos and changes on the fly. In short, someone who is playful and good at herding kids.

The Drama Workshop teacher also needs to be able to recognize "teachable moments" that suddenly pop-up when kids are interacting with each other. This is another reason why we often suggest making a video recording of the drama activities -- so that you can keep it moving and add teaching content during the always popular "showing of the video."

Kids love to see themselves onscreen of course, and the replay is usually accompanied by lots of smiles and laughter -- which are excellent memory enhancers for your lesson!

Extra Teaching Help is always appreciated in the Drama Workshop. A parent to help with one group or key actor, and another to help with the set and video recording. Playful teens and those with drama experience usually get a big kick out of helping in the Drama Workshop -- and the kids enjoy following the teen's acting lead.

The Bible story you are teaching often helps decide WHICH dramatic teaching technique you want to use.

While you can certainly act out the scene at The Cross and Tomb using traditional props and costumes, it can also be effectively and perhaps more EASILY acted out behind a "Shadow Screen" or using Blacklight Theater techniques -- so that the kids don't have to remember lines. Instead, lines can be read by narrators, and the kids "on the stage" can focus on moving and creating the shape or "tableaux" of the event. The lines can come straight from scripture -- or be "updated" or "condensed" by the students as a preparatory activity (and great memory enhancer).

Other stories like Jesus delivering the Beatitudes can have more "literal" drama activity -- like a kid dressed as Jesus sitting on a hill and talking to his disciples (fellows students). But the highly descriptive nature of the passage opens up to each Beatitude to being ACTED OUT or posed.

You could "literally" act out the Parable of the Prodigal Son in biblical costumes, OR you could update it to modern characters. Who is the "big brother" in the story now?  And what modern words would you use to describe what the Prodigal did to engage in "dissolute living"?

You could literally dramatize the Exodus and march to the Promised Land, or you could update it to a series of photos and poses showing what's holding back "kids today" in slavery and keeping them from following God?

You could literally have kids dressed in shepherd and angel costumes for a mini-Advent drama, or have them reposition it using a "flat lay" technique that is so much more fun and memorable (and watchable). The Writing Team used that technique for its Angels and Shepherds lesson set.


To depict the story of Ruth, you could roll out the Bible costumes and props again, or you could set up a "Ruth's Instagram" photo station at which students depicted certain key scenes (including poses and facial expressions) to "post" to Ruth's Instagram Page!  (This idea comes from our Writing Team's Ruth Drama lesson.)

Or take the Feeding of the 5000: Instead of stopping at re-enacting the story, you could "update" the story by having the kids come up with the "fish" Jesus wants to feed us with: Baskets of justice, baskets of forgiveness, baskets of honesty, baskets of tolerance.

The Drama Technique you choose is often dictated by who you are teaching.

Have a bunch of shy students? Try shadow drama or blacklight drama.

Have a bunch of non-readers?  Have them act out something that they helped you prepare being narrated to them.

Have a great group of self-starters? Break them into small groups and give them different tasks: 1-Retell the Bible story, 2-Retell it in modern setting, 3-Retell it without using words.

Preparing Your Space/Props

Drama is play. So after they've prepared what they're going to do, you want to make sure they have the fun staging and props to help them play well!

You don't need elaborate staging. Some simple costumes (scarves and lengths of fabric are fine), a few props, and a fun background are all you need for most Bible stories. Add a few "spotlights" (clamp lamps) and turn down the overhead classroom lighting --and you have a "stage."

As a fan of the Workshop Rotation Model, I firmly believe that the more special and unique we make our learning environment, the more your students will feel that something special is taking place. The "stuff" of a drama helps them "get in the mood" and get playful. Have plenty of it to choose from. Even if you are using space that is shared with other groups, you can put together a couple of buckets of costumes and props, and hang a fun backdrop to get up and running quickly, and be able to take it down quickly.

Consider creating a special seating area where the class gathers to hear the story and plan the day's drama. This allows the children to escape the everyday world when they enter the room. The group could be like Moses and the Israelites, wandering in the desert and gathering around a fire in front of a tent to hear stories. Maybe you are gathering in a synagogue sometime after the death and resurrection of Jesus to hear stories from both the Old and New Testaments. Maybe you are Christians gathered in the catacombs to hear stories of the faith. Try decorating the doorway like a time-machine and have the students put on Bible-time costumes when they enter the room (of course, you are already wearing your costume) and everyone is ready to explore a different time and place.

You will need open floor space so that there is room to move and create dramatic scenes. Use words to set the scene: "Come, let us sit here around our campfire (a few small logs) on this starry evening. See how the stars twinkle? That reminds me of the story of Abram." A few trees made from carpet tubes "planted" in five gallon plant containers with plaster and decorated with construction paper leaves or palm fronds don't take up much space and can be pushed out of the way if other groups use the room.

Use the furniture that is already in the room -as long as it isn't "clogging" your floor space. Your set could be a simple tent or cave defined by a blanket over some chairs or a table. Chairs can be arranged in a circle for a sheep pen or a boat.

If you have a space where you can leave your set up during the week, try building a more elaborate set. Use PVC piping to create a frame for a tent and drape fabric over it. To create a synagogue, have the students sit on benches facing a shelf holding your Ark (a box, cupboard or niche where the Torah is kept); use a higher shelf with brackets to attach a triangular shaped piece of wood and hang fabric as a curtain to enclose the Torah shelf. If you are meeting in a church basement or other room with annoying support columns, turn them into scenery! Cover them with papier-mâche and paint the room to look like caves or catacombs.  Cardboard sheets painted to look like brick walls and homes are great to have in your drama stockpile.

If you share space, make a tent or stable that folds up against the wall when not in use. Tack a large sheet of paper to the wall or hang a piece of fabric with a curtain rod. The other edge is supported by two poles in buckets of plaster. Pull the poles out for a lean-to type tent and push the poles against the wall when you don't need the tent.

Many stories have boats (for example: Noah, Jonah, Jesus calls the disciples, Jesus walking on water, Jesus calms the storm). If you have space, have a handy member of your congregation build one out of wood. Or use an appliance box for a boat that can be folded or discarded when you are done.

Flattened appliance boxes can be easily stored and brought out when you need them. A refrigerator box can be a backdrop or a building. A stove or washer box can be a boat or can be turned on its side to be a cave. Behind a piano is a great hiding place for a folded box.

Classroom Equipment for the Drama Workshop

You'll need a flipchart or whiteboard to break down the stories, make "cue cards," and provide the occasional quick backdrop. Butcher paper on the walls works great too.

Having a video camera on a tripod is a fantastic addition to any Drama Workshop. Kids love to see "how they look," and the shout, "recording! action!" often is just what everyone needs to pull it together and focus.

These days, having a tripod to hold a cellphone to record the class is a great idea. Just remember to have a cord that connects the phone to a TV for playback as well as your charging cord.

It's fun to have a little bit of special lighting on your stage area. Clamp lights work great. Lighting can also help with special effects. And you can use them to create shadow theater (backlit screens with the actors behind the screen).


Costumes need not be elaborate. A simple long FELT shawl or cloth tunic with slit for their head and a belt around the waist can help take a child out of the everyday and allow him or her to imagine themselves in Bible Times. Gather a few "modern" articles of clothing too -- like an old printed "church dress" and a man's jacket and tie (oversized makes it more fun). Don't forget to put hats and sunglasses in your costume box!

A good source for do-it yourself costumes and props (many of which the children can make themselves if your class time permits) is Bible Times Crafts for Kids: Experience Ancient Life- Styles and Customs with Kids from Preschool to Sixth Grade (Gospel Light, 1993).

For simple headgear to suggest a costume, look for the Paper Hat Tricks books. Several Hat patterns bookbooks have patterns for making "hats" out of paper specifically for Bible stories (including some great helmets for soldiers and guards).

Look for headbands with animal ears at discount and party stores.

Check costume and party stores around Halloween and Christmas (especially during the after- holiday sales). You might find inexpensive angel wings, helmets and shields, shepherds' crooks, wigs and beards and other useful costume items.

If you need something special, especially for an adult guest storyteller, costume rental shops carry all sorts of elaborate costumes for reasonable prices.


The performances are meant to be done with minimal equipment. However, if you have storage space you may want to collect some things to have on hand for when the need arises.

The following list is some "Good Stuff" to have on hand in your "magic" closet (you never know when something might come in handy!):

  • musical instruments and noisemakers (including bells, whistles, kazoos, party noisemakers, harps, toy drums and xylophones
  • sound effect junk (cookie tins, sticks, plastic jars or boxes with sand or rocks inside, pieces of PVC pipe, sandpaper and pieces of wood, aluminum pie plates, large pieces of posterboard, . . .)
  • baskets
  • bead necklaces
  • logs for a campfire (no matches!)
  • brown paper grocery bags and newspaper (Stuff the newspaper in the bags for a lumpy sort of rock and staple them shut. Use paint to cover the advertisements if you want something that looks nicer and is more permanent.)
  • large building blocks or small boxes (which can be painted to cover up the writing)
  • walking sticks
  • a doll for stories with babies (or two dolls -- one "people-sized" for drama and one "puppet- sized" for puppetry)
  • tinsel garland for angel halos
  • a baton or decorated stick for a king's scepter
  • inexpensive crowns for stories with kings and queen
  • small treasure boxes and brass bowls or vases (especially for the three magi in the Christmas story)
  • swords (can be found at costume and party stores, especially around Halloween, or cover cardboard with foil)
  • play money or doubloons
  • a fishing net
  • cups and plates for stories with meals

Also keep construction paper, cardboard, markers, tape, glue, staplers, and scissors handy for when inspiration strikes.

If you have open or easily accessible shelves and if time permits, you may let the children "shop for ideas"  to personalize their drama.

Helpful Hints for (Almost) Effortless Performances

* If you are excited about the project, the students will catch your enthusiasm. Keep the activity fun.

* Use plenty of positive reinforcement. Teach children to be comfortable with their mistakes and doing something funny (even if they didn't intend it to be that way).

* If necessary, choose characters by drawing names or some other impartial method. Don't let the children argue. Be sure to assign parts that require reading to those who can read well enough so as not to feel embarrassed.

* If a girl wants to take a male part, or vice-versa, no problem. For minor parts, you can change the character a bit - a traveler can be a woman instead of a man. (Remember that in Shakespeare's time, all the characters were played by men.)

* If the story has a crowd scene, everyone can participate. Otherwise, those without parts will be a very important part - the audience. Make sure those children have first chance at parts for the second run-through.

* Do not force anyone to perform. Have reluctant students work as the "stage crew" or help narrate or do sound effects and lighting. It is also good to have an audience to react to the performance, even if it is only one person. Do encourage reluctant participants to take part in the group warm-up activities.

* Do warm-up exercises with the entire class to get them in the mood and help them think through how to convey certain emotions and reactions in the story.

* Encourage other students to suggest possible dialog and reactions when someone is at a loss for words.

* Be careful about correcting students when they mis-speak, and encourage all your actors to "go with the flow" when someone makes a mistake, rather than show disdain.

* When working with older students, allow them to have more leadership and direction. Allow one of the students (or a team) to do the narration and to ask the prompting questions. (You may want to select a leader a week in advance so she or he can study the story and prepare.)

* Add sound effects: children can use their voices and bodies, noisemakers, musical instruments, and junk.

* If a child is mishandling puppets or props, give him or her one warning, then have him sit in the audience. Explain that it is important to keep our equipment in good shape so that others can use it for a number of years.

* When videotaping, unless the cameraman is experienced, it is best to have a stationary camera and have the children orient their performance toward the camera. Include time to play back the video so the students can see the results.

Remind Students of "How We Roll" in the Drama Workshop

  • Everyone will eventually flub up. Learn to laugh at yourself and not laugh at someone who is embarrassed.
  • Don't expect perfection from each other. Show the love! (And having to do something "over again" is a great way to really remember something!)
  • Be an example to others about how to show emotion and attitude with your face, voice, and body language (not everyone learns these things or can do them as well).
  • Everyone gets a part to play in front of or behind the camera, even if it's just being the "sound effects" person or audience "clapper."

I hope you've enjoyed reading my "manual." And don't miss the many other great ideas and techniques in these posts from our sharing community -- I can't wait to try some myself!


Images (7)
  • Hat patterns book
  • drama2
  • drama1
  • goliathvisits
  • prison-front1
  • FlatLayTechnique-Rotation.org281%29
  • Drama-in-Sunday-School-logo
Last edited by Amy Crane
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

The Similarity between "Dramatic" Children's Sermons and Classroom Dramas and Discussion Techniques

Over in the Easter ~ Holy Week Forum there is a thread of several "Holy Week Children's Sermon Ideas" --each of which is a drama or dramatic presentation that could easily be adapted as a Drama Workshop Skit. Each includes "objects" -which is what an "object lesson" is.

An object lesson is a lesson that illustrates (dramatizes) a point of a story using objects (props) to focus student attention and provide a memory hook for meaning.

Good children's sermons often tell a story, have characters and props, and include a surprise --because stories with characters, props, and ah-ha! surprises are "memory food."  Not so coincidentally, these are the same elements we emphasize in Drama Workshop activities, (and are why most teachers prefer teaching the dramatic stories of Jesus and not just one-liner verses).

From a resource point of view, this means that good children's sermon ideas and good ideas for classroom skits and presentations are rather interchangeable with some adaptations for time and space.

To wit:

  • In your children's sermons, use classroom skit or dramatic presentation techniques (story, action, props, characters, ah-ha!).
  • In your lesson plan discussions, use object lesson techniques! (story, action, props, characters, ah-ha!).

A BTW About Children's Sermons...

What's often lacking in children's sermons is the VISUAL ACTION of drama  -i.e. the movement and characters that attract the learners' eye, imagination, and memory.

These are the same things that are often lacking in poor drama workshop lesson plans and teachers.

Many children's sermon leaders are reluctant to dramatize their point in a worship setting or don't even think to dramatize their point. Why?

  • because they think too much playful action is out of place in a sanctuary.
  • or because they are self-conscious in front of adults.
  • or they are simply not good with teaching groups of children.
  • or they over-rely on their verbal abilities.

In other words,

  • they think the sanctuary is more sacred than the classroom --which is awful theology.
  • or they are afraid to look foolish in front of the adults.
  • or they forget they are supposed to be teaching the children and not the adults.
  • or they are not very creative.
  • or they think they are good at just "talking with the kids."
  • or they think the "fun stuff" is secondary and merely for entertainment purposes.
  • and all too often it is "all of the above."

The result is pastors standing still or sitting motionless while they hold up an object (prop) and talk talk talk. The funny thing is, it's often the playful dramatic children's sermons that connect best with the kids, get the best response from the adults, and feel the most personally satisfying as a pastor or teacher of children.

Drama Workshop teachers and lesson plans can suffer from these same problems. 

Last edited by Amy Crane

The following is another "sort of" manual for the Drama Workshop. It is similar in some ways to Amy Crane's seminal manual above, but also has some different tips and ideas in it.

The Drama Workshop in the Rotation Model

What is it
How do you set it up
What can you do in it
by Neil MacQueen (2008)

The "Drama Workshop" in the Rotation Model is considered one of the four "original core workshops." Other "core" workshops are Art, Video, and Bible Games.

There are a couple of reasons why drama is considered a "core workshop." The Bible itself is a drama and lends itself to being dramatized. And drama is a familiar and traditional teaching technique that works well with just about any Bible lesson.

Sunday Schools have always incorporated skits and costumes, but the Workshop Rotation Model takes it a few steps further.

  • We outfit an entire room with drama decor and props, and devote an entire lesson plan to teaching the Bible story through dramatic techniques. (The traditional model usually just snuck a quickie drama into the lesson plan,  "... 3-minute scripts and box of bathrobes.")
  • Importantly, in Rotation, we recruit a teacher who likes teaching through drama and isn't a stick-in-the-mud. Then we ask them to stay-put in that workshop each week as new groups come in. That ensures that their command of the drama lesson gets better each week.
  • Many Rotation drama lesson plans follow a familiar "script and costume" approach. But as the following brief article suggests, in Rotation we strive to move beyond that.

The Drama Workshop: More than just scripts and costumes!

Do you automatically think "script and costumes" when you think of teaching a Bible story through Drama? Most of us do. It's a time-honored approach that has its time and place in our lessons. It's an easy concept to pull off if you have a kid-friendly script, props, scenery, and a little bit of staging. (In fact, you'll see a lot of those types of drama lessons and scripts here at  

But drama in the classroom can mean a whole lot more than standing in costumes and reading a script!

When looking at your lesson, ask these questions:

  • How can we dramatize the class introduction and opening?
  • How can we dramatize the Bible reading and discussion?
  • And how can we use drama to reflect or pray?

Dramatizing a Bible story can involve many things:  acting in character, using props as you talk, using fun voices and motions, conducting a "show" or interview, or simply altering how we read a passage or changing the scene or cast of who's in the story.

You often see Bible dramas that "play it straight" and "just re-tell Bible story," but often in the Drama Workshop, the teaching insights are more ripe when you change the story, play with it, and re-imagine it in different ways.

There's a time and place to "play it straight" and just do the story.  But often, the real insights (and memorable fun) are found when you invite the kids to re-imagine parts of the story.

Ways to Reimagine the Story

Change the WAY you present the drama.
Instead of kids reciting lines on a 'stage,' use other forms of presentation, such as, a shadow drama or "radio broadcast" or "Readers Theater."  These tweaks often take the pressure off kids to perform in an overly wordy or visible way. Feels more like "play" than "a play."

Invent characters or change the story's point of view.  What if you put "Loud Mouth Larry the Disciple" on the boat with Jesus. What if you told the story of the Good Samaritan from the point of view of the innkeeper or priest?

Change the scene. What happens when the man is let down through the school cafeteria roof? ...and his "disability" is that he's socially awkward.  What would the principal and students say?

Imagine new dialog from characters in the story.  For example, what did the other 9 lepers say to defend themselves for not thanking Jesus?  What would God have said if Adam and Eve had stood up and confessed their sin in the Garden? What would the priest say to the other priests after he stopped to help the man on the Jericho road?

Experiment with different endings. What would Jesus have said if  a crowd of pro-Jesus soldiers appeared, or some angels debated and showed up to take him down off the cross?  What excuses could Mary Magdalene have given for not going to the tomb? What would God and Moses have talked about if Moses had given up and decided to leave the Ten Commandment tablets on top of Mt. Sinai?  What if Joseph's brothers had never bothered to ask for forgiveness, what would Joseph have done then?

Your main drama activity does NOT have to (and probably should not) be a recitation of the entire story.

For example, after your dramatic Bible study, your main dramatic activity can be setting up a "gameshow" or "interview show" or "news broadcast" ABOUT SOMETHING IN THE STORY, and not merely a repetition of story itself.

"We're standing here in the school cafeteria where Jesus has just healed a 5th grader lowered down through the roof, ...and here comes the principal... sir, sir, can I ask you a few questions?"  

"CNN reporting from the frontlines where Goliath has just come out and challenged Israel to a battle, ...Goliath, may I have a word with you?"

You are interviewing the sheep who just came from the green pastures and dark valleys of Psalm 23.

You are interviewing the people in the crowd watching Jesus enter Jerusalem, or die on the cross.

In these broadcast examples it's often good to have a teacher or assistant be the interviewer. Prior to the news broadcast, the characters are assigned and they prepare some questions and responses that might be interesting.  Let them write out key lines on cards or a flipchart cue-card.  You can even have fun "commercial breaks" in the middle of your show to "sell a product" (such as, "Today's Manna, for that worn out spirit. Now in super-size.")


Play acting requires a lot of teacher energy and fast thinking, and that's why the selection of a gregarious teacher who loves doing voices (and is a bit goofy) is key to making the drama workshop work. A sedate teacher who can't get out of their own chair doesn't belong in the drama workshop.

Leading these types of drama requires some IMPROVISATIONAL SKILLS on the part of the teacher ("think fast" skills) and some practice on the part of the kids. This is why you want to leave plenty of time in your drama lesson for preparation. Often, the teacher will show the kids how they might act. The more they do it, and sometimes the more silly, the more they'll drop their guard and get into it.  (We're not goofing around, we're creating a deep memory of the story through "play.")

Use kids' natural competitiveness and creativity to spur each other towards better "performances."  For example, have two groups do two different versions of "The 5th Grader Let Down Through the Roof." The second group will naturally want to try harder.

Change the way you do your drama from rotation to rotation. Some kids fear speaking in public or acting. Mix it up.

Videotaping your skits is a great way to get the kids to rise to the task and perform on cue. And it's okay if they get it wrong the first time. Doing it a second time with improvements is a great way to learn, and will give the teacher plenty to point out and discuss.

It's always great to have a couple of Senior High "hams" helping in the Drama Workshop. In fact, you could say it's REQUIRED.  They will be great at providing suggestions, setting the tone (helping kids come out of their shell), working in small groups on scenes to be presented, and acting with the kids (which can help move the scenes along and be quite entertaining).

(This post originally had a list of drama ideas. They have been moved to the MORE Drama Methods and Ideas topic over here. And more drama methods are featured in our Drama Workshop Forum.)

Last edited by Amy Crane

The Two Biggest Drama Workshop Mistakes

Having been part of this lesson-sharing website for over two decades, and having worked with the original Rotation Writing Team (2004-2010), and the "New" Writing Team (2015-Now), I've seen a lot of approaches to teaching with Dramatic techniques --including skits, plays, "storytelling," story tables with action figures, LEGOS, puppets, and plays and Shadow theater/posing/puppet techniques. ANY technique can be done well, but the biggest "mistake" I see drama-centric lesson plans making is this:

Using the drama activities to ONLY "retell the story,"
and failing to use them to explore
the LIFE APPLICATION of the story.

Take, for example, "Shadow Theater" --one of my favorite ways to do drama in a Sunday School classroom. It's easy to setup, has a wide-age-range, puts the focus on acting -- not scripts, and is a fun way to interact with the story. It's also easy to record and playback with your cellphone. You can do it with live actors or puppets, and props can be made out of cardboard.

But so many lesson plans that use the technique only use it to POSE scenes from the story, rather than POSE how the teaching from the story might look like in a student's life.

FOR EXAMPLE....In a lesson about Ruth and Boaz there are many great story scenes you can pose behind the backlight screen, BUT what would these shadow poses look like?

  • I treat "others/foreigners" at school with respect.
  • I protect others (like Boaz did)
  • I respect those who guard/keep/nurture me.
  • I promise to be faithful and trustworthy to my friends.

The second "biggest mistake" I see in teaching with drama?

Having a boring script with too many words and one that requires the kids to "learn their lines" or read their scripts.

Drama means "acting" not "reading."
And in Sunday School, we don't have the time to memorize lines

The Writing Team has written a lot of great Drama Workshop lesson plans that explore a wide variety of techniques that aren't "script-centric."  They're more playful and broadly graded. Many use movement and song, some involved the kids in creating the narration. Some involve creative ways to act in front of a video camera, like the super-fun "flat lay" technique described here, or the fun "Newsroom" technique described here.


Images (1)
  • Shadow Theater technique for Sunday School
Last edited by Amy Crane

Here are a few more drama ideas for teaching Bible stories:

  • A Talk Show host interviewing people from the story.
  • A helicopter reporter flying in over the Valley of Elah where Goliath is standing.
  • Pantomine a "Silent Movie" version of the story as it's read by others, or while a video of the story is played in the background. Or play a video clip with the sound turned off and the actors standing by the side of the screen trying to say the lines of the video. Use different teams to see which team remembers most of the key lines in the story.
  • "Can you guess the scene in the video?" game ---Watch a video and then rewind to different parts so that only the "players" can see what's on the screen. Have the players act out that scene and see who can guess and explain what scene they're acting out, and what the characters are talking about. This is a lot of fun, and very memorable.
  • Shadow puppets moving behind a backlit screen to narration.
  • Shadow actors backlit behind a white cloth (with others doing the reading and special effects).
  • A News Reporter interviewing people at the Scene of the Story.
  • A "Readers Theater" drama presentation of the script (learn more)
  • Record a Radio broadcast (with sound effects) from Jericho reporting the arrival of Jesus. (Use your cellphone's recording capability.) You can do this fully scripted, Or have only the dramatic reporter using simple lines that cue the other players to act and say things, such as, "I can hear the crowd start to murmur."  And "now they're starting to accuse Zaccheus of being a bad guy."  The kids respond to the narration and do their own sound effects. You can also record using a laptop with a built-in microphone. Play back for fun and great discussion.
  • A "dance version" of the story where people have to dance through their part. A dinosaur or bird version of the story where each character has to move like a dinosaur or bird.
  • A mixed-up characters version, where each person has a secret identity that they must act like and modify their scripted lines to match their character (you're a cop, you're afraid, you're an alien, you're a talking monkey).
  • A "frozen statues version" of the story where the kids form the scene then someone reads it while the actors stay frozen.
  • Slow motion Ninja movie version of Mary and Joseph coming to 'extract' Jesus from the Temple
  • Change the disciples to super heroes. Peter the Hulk tries to walk on water with Jesus. Hulk Splash!
  • The Avengers show up at the cross to try to rescue Jesus, but Jesus explains why they must let him die. What would Iron Man say when he flew into the scene to offer Jesus help? What would Jesus say?
  • Yell "freeze" and walk up to a frozen actor to ask them "what are you thinking about right now? Are you mad or happy with your prodigal brother?"
Last edited by Amy Crane

Drama techniques aren't only for the "main activity" in the lesson.

They can be used to

  • open the lesson

  • read the scripture

  • discuss

  • and reflect

For example...

You could OPEN an Advent lesson by asking:

  • What do surprise and joy look like?
  • What do you think Mary looked like when Gabriel appeared?
  • Show what God was feeling at the Birth of Jesus.

When READING Psalm 23...

  • You could assign different verses to actors for them to act out as they read it.


  • You could toss a prop to a person who has to answer the questions as that character.   "Hey Joseph, what's your reaction to these grungy shepherds coming to your stable?"


  • You could pass out costumes and invite each student to pray as if they were that person (what would they pray for?).   What would the shepherd pray for as they were leaving the manger scene and thinking about the rest of their life AFTER the birth of the Messiah?


Images (1)
  • Did You Know graphic
Last edited by Amy Crane

Add Reply

Post a New Topic
Lesson or Resource Inc. is a volunteer-run, 100% member supported, 501(c)3 non-profit Sunday School lesson ministry. You are welcome to borrow and adapt content for non-commercial teaching purposes --as long as both the site and author are referenced. Inc reserves the right to manage, move, condense, delete, and otherwise improve all content posted to the site. Read our Terms of Service. Get a free Registered Membership or become a Supporting Member for full access to all site resources. is rated 5 stars on Google based on 51 reviews. Serving a global community including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, and more!
Link copied to your clipboard.