Creative Dramatics Lesson Plans: Nine Reasons to Teach Radio Theater
In high school, I had a fan girl crush on John Boy of “The Waltons.” Maybe you don’t know of the television show, but I bet you can find it running somewhere on television. This birthed my love of radio theatre.
Part of the mystique of the show was the time period (during the Depression) in which the show was set. How I could romanticize the time period, I’ll never know but I kinda think it’s because of John Boy. Also, I thought it was very heart warming when the family sat around the radio and listened to the evening radio show.
Anyway, back to the reasons I’m blogging about this topic.
Want a FREE guide and lesson plan for elementary students? Click here Guide
Creative Dramatics Lesson Plans
I taught radio theater for over twenty years and I’m amazed by how many people in this day and age still don’t know much about the media.
I’m going out on a limb here, but really friends, if you need an unusual creative dramatics lesson plan try radio theater, because–
- It’s creative
- It’s a perfect example of differentiated instruction.
- Listening skills are strengthened–listening for one’s cues, creating sound effects by focusing one’s attention to them
- Speaking skills are polished–enunciation, rate of delivery, and diction come in to play when a student reads aloud
- Reading skills are cultivated–when a reader reads something repeatedly, they can’t help but become a better reader
- Language skills are honed–students become better communicators
- Cooperative learning is such a necessary part of this study
- Many of the radio theater play scripts I teach with are from previous eras–what a super way for students to learn about the past
- It’s just plain fun!
Although I use radio theater in my drama classroom, I am acquainted with several teachers who have implemented it in the language arts and social studies/ history classes as well.
There are scripts of classic books (Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde, H.G. Wells) and historical moments, some fictionalized. Today I found one about Abraham Lincoln. How great!
How about these:
- The Hindenburg Disaster
- D-Day Invasion
- War of the Worlds
- Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor
- Nazis Enter
- Albert Einstein Speaks on the Importance of the Radio
- Winston Churchill’s Speech, “We Shall Fight on the Beaches”
- John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis
- And countless more!
For instance, you take any book they enjoy and turn it into radio theater. Or maybe you use a particular fairy tale and present it as radio theater. You see? The ideas are endless.
I am busily creating radio theater scripts at this writing. I plan to offer some for each grade level, so keep looking for them.
I have a few ready now. There are several choices. One is the radio theater unit only. I developed it so teachers can use it to complement their teaching of a particular script of their choosing.
Radio Theater Unit Only
If you’d like to see a preview of my middle grades radio play, Bow Wow Blues, check it out Bow Wow Blues Radio Theater Unit .
If you’d like to hear the script performed by students, check out: https://youtu.be/ouj4Ui5M2Eo
This TEN DAY unit, nearly 30 pages in length, is suitable for middle and high school drama classes or elementary gifted classes study creative dramatic and includes:
• a lesson on the history of radio theatre,
• information about Foley engineers
• three links to video clips of Foleys
• student created sound effect project
• five links to radio play performances (some vintage and some recent)
• a lesson in writing and producing radio commercials
• links to four commercials and two acting exercises focused on sound effects
• procedure plan to follow throughout the unit
• teacher’s questions
• a sound effects quiz
• a student group example of a radio commercial
• trivia about radio theater stars
Need some guidance on radio theater hand signals? Check out: Radio Theater Hand Signals
Here is a production by an ESL class in Tbilisi Georgia. They did a wonderful job!
Or may you’d like a bundle of them: Radio Theater Bundle
There are individual scripts available too.
Radio Theater Unit and Free Play
Looking for something to spur conversation about our personal perceptions of ourselves and how the world sees us? Based on the story by H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man is a terrific play to use with your students. It consists of a cast of 17 + with roles for both experienced and novice actors including several Foley engineers, a pitchman and music tech. The play runs about 25 minutes with commercials.
Here’s one school’s version of The Canterville Ghost! https://youtu.be/BqFpChUkPbA
If you are looking for something spooky, but fun then The Canterville Ghost is a great choice. The Canterville Ghost radio play is based on the novella by Oscar Wilde has a cast of 15 +. There are roles for experienced performers and novices, several Foley engineers, a pitchman and music tech. The play runs about 30 minutes including commercials.
I ran on to this script and was ecstatic because it includes pirates, mystery and fun. My husband, who is a instrumental music teacher, composed a song for the pirates to sing (optional, of course) but it makes it so engaging. It’s scary and creepy and loads of fun. The play runs about thirty minutes.
I really enjoyed adapting this radio play hoping students would enjoy the subjects–pirates, stolen treasure and mystery! The Frozen Pirate is based on the novel by nautical author William Russell and requires a cast of 15 +. My husband, an instrumental music teacher and composer created a sea shanty reminiscent of songs from the time period, too! There are roles for experienced performers and novices, several Foley engineers, a pitchman and music tech. The play runs about 35 minutes including commercials. Bow Wow Blues, my last product listed here is an original comedy I penned for my class. It’s full of humor, puns, funny characters and a quick moving plot. Students love it! I’m so glad.
And lastly, I offer them as a set. So, for example a teacher gets The Canterville Ghost AND the teaching materials for radio theater (Or they can purchase The Invisible Man with its teaching materials and so forth.)
If you are looking for classics, how about The Cask of Amontillado or the Monkey’s Paw?
So many choices, huh?
Guess what? Now I have begun creating radio theater scripts for grades three to five. Here are two:
Check out other products of mine at: Dramamommaspeaks Teacherpayteachers
What experiences have you had with radio theatre? I’d love to hear about them. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DeborahBaldwin.net
For more information about other drama education products, check out these posts:
Stage Properties are a Lesson in Wonderous Creativity
The Drama Exercise to Jazz Up Your Class and Impress Your Parents
The Ultimate Guide for Drama Teachers: Creative Movement? Are you kidding me?