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Using Drama for Learning

Story-based Drama Activities

Still Image variations

  • ‘Meet’ characters from stories by interviewing them in the hotseat, creating still images and bringing them to life in movement and speech.  Try this out with the characters from the audio pieces and films.
  • Work in groups to create engaging backstories for all the characters including their strengths, super powers, weaknesses and best bits.  Could you create a backstory for Ipi and his uncle, for Amelia and Aquila and for Jess?
  • Consider what conversations you think the different characters had with other people about the situation they were in? Try out a new conversation between:
    • Amelia and Aquila
    • Amelia and her mother
    • Jess and another curator
    • Ipi and his uncle
    • Ipi and his best friend


The big debate

  • You are part of an archaeological dig in Egypt. You and the team have just discovered  a hidden alleyway within a collapsing tomb. You only have minutes to decide which of two objects can be excavated in that time to be conserved for others to see and learn about ancient Egypt.
  • One object is a small figure shaped with a cats head and human body and legs. It is made with materials that are unknown and could lead to new understanding of materials the Egyptians used for their art and craft. An object like this has never been found before.
  • The other object is an exquisitely perfect mummy’s death mask decorated in gold and with mysterious message in painted hieroglyphs. Discovering the identity of the owner of this mask would lead to an understanding of ancient Egyptian life and a newly discovered dynasty of Pharaohs.
  • Break into two groups. One group is debating to keep the beautifully crafted cat/human figure, the other group to keep the priceless death mask.
  • In your own group brainstorm all of the reasons that you should keep your object. (You may want to do some research to back up your reasons.)
  • Now brainstorm all the reasons that the other object should be left behind in the collapsing tomb.
  • As a whole group take turns to present your best arguments for keeping your object. Listen to one another’s main points and take notes.
  • Take turns to respond to each other in a debate. Your teacher will help you to do this.
  • At the end of the debate as a small group, make your final concluding statement or argument.
  • Think about whether you have changed your opinions based on what the other group said.
  • You could have a class vote to see who feels which object should be saved.

Ipi’s story

The view from the ridge

Ask the children to step into Ipi’s shoes and imagine a time he has climbed up from the workshop in the Valley of the Kings, to Menes’(the watchman’s) hut, high on the ridge.  Perhaps Ipi is taking a break, getting away from his fellow craftsmen who tease him every time he makes a mistake.  As he sits, with his back to a rock, he looks down into the valley.  Pharaoh Seti 1st has recently died and it is a hive of activity as everyone works hard to finish his tomb.  Set up the Circle of Description convention and ask each child in turn to describe what they see.


A day in the life

Staying with the role of Ipi, split the children into groups of 4/5 and allot them a different time of the day and location:

  • Early morning at home
  • Morning at the workshop
  • Lunchtime break in the valley
  • Afternoon at his uncle’s house
  • Evening at the market
  • Night time up on the ridge
  • As them to create a Still Image of a typical day for Ipi, thinking about who else is with him and what he is doing.  Deepen the still image activity by selecting specific characters to Thought Track, or by bringing the images to life as a short piece of Role Play.


The nose incident!

Ask the children to imagine it is the fateful day when Ipi accidently knocks the tip off his first shabti’s nose.  Recap on what they heard in the audio story about the incident and how it made Ipi feel.  Put children into pairs and ask them to decide who is going to play Ipi, and who is going to be his older brother Khufu.  Khufu has been apprenticed to their father as a tomb painter for several years.  Ask the children to Role Play a short scene where Ipi tells Khufu about what happened with the shabti and asks his advice about how to deal with the teasing of the other craftsmen, how to get help from uncle and how to deal with future mistakes. 


Amelia’s story


Postcards from Egypt

  • Split into four groups. Each group  has one postcard – on one side is written a short message from Amelia from one of her trips to Egypt: 
    • “A wonderful day spent visiting the archaeological dig site at the temple of Amarna…it was so hot, I spent much of the time sheltering under the palm trees.”
    • “I am in despair, today I saw a beautiful ancient temple, filled with families who were living there…they had no care for the place!”
    • “Today I rescued a small wooden shabti from the street markets of Cairo, I spent a several minutes haggling over the price, all the while being harassed by other traders with things to sell.”
    • “All the crates are packed up, ready to be loaded onto the ship for England…I do hope none of my precious objects are damaged on the journey.”
  • Make a Still Image to illustrate the message you have on your group postcard – you can be people and structures/buildings in the image.  When ready, share these images with the rest of the class, at the same time as reading out the relevant postcard message as a Caption – this can be done either by a someone in the image, or by someone from another group.
  • Now introduce that this is Amelia’s version of events, but what is missing is the voice of the Egyptian people.  This time give the children another card on which is written the perspective of the Egyptian workers, families and traders who would have been present:
    • “Another hard day working on the archaeological dig site at the temple of Amarna…it was so hot, but no time to rest or find shade.”
    • “No-one had lived here for years when we moved in; we had nowhere else to go.”
    • “These Europeans!  Why do they always try to bargain us down to the cheapest price? How do they expect us to make a living!”
    • “Another crate of objects gone!  At this rate there will be nothing left here for us!”
  • Look at your still images again – does anything need to change to respond to the new set of messages?  Share your new images and captions.  With a little rehearsal time, you can move from one image into the other.  Think about the different perspectives offered by the two images. Which image do you think presents the truth and why?

Where do you stand?

Remind the children of who Amelia and Aquila are from the film

  • Set up the Where do you stand? convention and starting with Amelia, read out the following two statements:
    • Wants to protect ancient artefacts - No better than a graverobber
  • Follow with this statement relation to Aquila
    • Wants Leeds to be known as a city of culture and learning - Wants to keep the best artefacts for his own collection

Once you have established the activity with pupils you can create further statements to use on a range of themes, even involving pupils in the process of generating these.


Jess’s story

In Jess’s story, Jess is faced with a dilemma about what to do with the three artefacts that Mrs Bletherswick has contacted her about.  Reflect upon all the things that Jess says about the objects that could form the basis of an argument either for or against making them a part of the museum collections.  Discuss further with the class, inviting their points of view – can any object be eliminated at this stage?  Ask the children to imagine that Jess is sitting at her computer about to reply to Mrs Bletherswick.  Set up the Conscience Alley convention and tell the children that they are now going to become the voices in Jess’s head – what course of action should she take and what could they say that will convince her of this?