Creative Drama in the English Language Arts Program

Jessica Dovichak


What is English Language Arts?
English Language Arts (ELA) is a multidimensional discipline that incorporates the six language arts (listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and visually representing) into one comprehensive program. The rationale behind ELA is that the students gain knowledge and skills in the art of communicating ideas and meaning through a variety of mediums.

Why Creative Drama in ELA?
Because of the broad nature of ELA there are a variety of approaches to studying and creating text. Using creative drama as a way to engage students in studying texts and gaining knowledge and skills in the way of ELA is one of them. Often the six langauge arts are divided into groupings and studied as separate entities; for example, reading and writing studied together, but not in conjunction with viewing and visually representing. Using Creative Drama is a way to incorporate all six of the language arts in one all-encompassing activity. Creative drama has been used for centuries to communicate themes and ideas as well as to engage audience and entertain. The ancient Greeks are among the most famous for doing this. In the modern classroom creative drama is a very open medium that can manipulated to be used for a multitude of purposes. It can be used to respond to texts or themes, and may also be a way to have the students extend their thinking and create, for themselves and others, an authentic experience. It also helps students to reflect on a particular circumstance and to make sense of their world in a deeper way; which, essentially, is what language arts is all about.

Aspects of Creative Drama

Creative drama consists of two main components: creation and performance. Each aspect provides certain benefits for students in language arts:


The creation aspect of creative drama involves the idea that students will respond to a text or extend their knowledge by creating an original script or improvisation. Some benefits to creation in drama and ELA include:
  • Allowing students the opportunity to learn through interaction with a static piece of writing
  • Enhances student engagement
  • Encourages imaginative thinking
  • Introduces the genre of scripts and screenplays
  • Introduces and works with dialouge
  • Engages in creative writing


The performance aspect of creative drama involves the students presenting and sharing their ideas and commuperformance.jpgnicating meaning through physiciality of dramatic interpretation. Some of benefits of performance drama in ELA include:
  • Students are active participants in their own learning
  • By taking on roles they transcend themselves and discover their own potential
  • Hands on for kinesthetic learners
  • Develop group work skills
  • Encourages discussion and higher level thinking
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves confidence

Creative Drama Activities

Divison 1 (K-Grade 3)

The performance aspect of creative drama is best suited to this divison. Students are just beginning to read and write so creating a written script would be slightly above their level. However, performance based activities can easily be used to engage this division with creative drama in ELA.
The best types of creative drama for this level of students includes:

Example: Story Drama (Performance)

Story drama is the most popular form of classroom creative drama. Many teachers use it without really knowing what it is. The basic concept is to take a piece of literature that the students can appreciate, and act it out. By using a storybook, poem, lyrics, or folk tale, and allowing it to come to life, you can transport your class to the world of drama. (CLICK HERE TO FIND MORE ON THIS LESSON IDEA)

Divison 2 (Grades 4-6)

Creative drama as well as performance drama are very well suited to division 2. Students are now quite competent with reading and writing so a teacher may introduce the concept of a script. Students may begin by performing a written script and eventually work towards creating their own script to be performed.
The best types of creative drama for this level of students includes:

Example: Charater Role-Playing(Performance)

Students will study character traits by creating their own script for a fantasy news report. The students will study a character in a piece of literature. They will make a chart of the character's traits and find evidence in the book that supports it. The students will then use this information to write a script (using the quotes found in the book) to create dialogue as if the reporter were investigating the main events of the story. CLICK HERE TO FIND MORE ON THIS LESSON IDEA

Division 3 & 4 (Grades 7-12)

The creation aspect of creative drama can be the main focus at this level. Students would be able to write and perform their own scripts as well as respond to more serious issues using drama. Some great examples of activities for this level would include:


Example: Playbill (Creation)

Students will create a playbill that outlines the plot of a story. Extensions to this activity could include the students creating and then performing their own plays.

Other Online Resources:

Drama Actvities (ONLINE RESOURCE)
ESL Drama in the Classroom (ONLINE RESOURCE)
Drama Resource


Creative Drama for Diverse Learners (VIDEO)

Scholarly Articles:

Using Process Drama in the Language Arts Classroom (ARTICLE)
Theatre Games in Language Arts (ARTICLE)
Drama for ESL Students (ARTICLE)
Classroom Drama in Language Arts (ARTICLE)
Use of drama in a language arts classroom to change attitudes and actions (ARTICLE)
Creative Drama in the Classroom and Beyond (ARTICLE)
Teaching ESL Through Creative Drama (ARTICLE)
Drama in Teaching ESL: A communicative approach (ARTICLE)