DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Cheryl Murphy

Acting Lesson Plan


Don’t Speak!


Goal: For students to explore non-verbal communication culminating in a performance piece.


Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that:


  • There are many forms of communication
  • Communication can be effective with or without words



Essential Questions

  • Is there a right way to communicate with others?
  • What forms of communication work the most effectively?
  • How do you communicate with others?
  • Can you communicate without using words?
  • Why is it important to utilize multiple forms of communication?
  • How does using multiple forms of communication relay your ideas more completely?




    1. Warm up:  Mime it down the alley *– communication with body/ no sound
    2. In small groups students will discuss and come up with a list of different ways to communicate with one another.
    3. As a whole class groups will share their lists and a master will be created on the board.  Possible ideas: speaking, singing, dancing, listening, non- verbal, sign language, mime, etc
    4. Next, students will take part in a series of activities that that explore forms of non-verbal communication:


  • Gibberish Sentences *- communication without words
  • Building a scene activity without words (variation of Martha Game) *– communication with body



    1. After the completion of each exercise, class will discuss what form of communication was used.



    1. Performance evaluation to demonstrate understanding:

In groups of 5-6 students will create a performance piece utilizing at least 2 non-verbal forms of communication identified in the class discussion. 


Each group will be given a list of topics to choose from as the focus of their performance piece. 


List of topics




Police Brutality


Child Hunger

 Job Loss

Teen Pregnancy




    1. Groups will have the remaining time of the first class period to brainstorm with group and the first part of the following class to rehearse piece.  The remainder of the second class will be the performance time.



Rubric for grading:


Group participation                                                        50 %

Effectively communicating your message non-verbally  25%

Creativity of performance piece                                     25%



Literacy Objectives:

  • Participate in class discussion
  • Respond to what was viewed and heard
  • Communicate in a manner to be heard and understood
  • Make an oral presentation




* See attached for activity instructions







Game Type: Skills Development

Age Range: 10+

Number of Participants: 8-10/line

Materials: None

Explanation: A pantomimed version of "Whisper down the alley". Participants try to communicate an object or idea to each other so that the last person has the same "message" as the first.

How to Play: Participants are divided into groups of eight to ten people. Each group sits in a straight line, facing backward except for the first person. Participants are not allowed to talk at any point in the game. The first person in each line is given an object to mime (i.e., a toaster, a computer, a jack-in-the-box) – the only requirement is that it can be shown in pantomime in a seated position. The first person taps the second person in line on the shoulder so that they turn to face each other. The first person mimes the object, and when the second person thinks he knows what the object is, he nods. Then the object is mimed to the next person, traveling down the line to the last person. The objective is for the pantomime of the object to be clear enough each time that it stays the same object all the way down the line. Usually, the object changes into something entirely different – the interesting thing is to see how it changed along the line. Each person should tell the others what they thought the object was, and discuss what they saw the others demonstrating.

Notes: There are many variations that can be played with this game, by changing the object to a movie or book title, or incorporating concepts from a curricular area into the game. For example, the pantomime could be of a preposition or a science concept.




The Martha Game

I have no idea who Martha is or how this game got its name.  Works best with a group of 8 - 12.  With a larger group, divide them into two teams.

Group stands outside a designated performance space.

One person runs into the space, forms her body into a statue and announces what she is, as in "I'm a tree."

Instantly the next person runs on and forms something else in the same picture.  "I'm a bench under the tree."

The next person further adds to the picture.  "I'm a bum on the bench."

"I'm a dog peeing on the tree."

"I'm the newspaper the bum is sleeping under."

Etc., until the whole group is part of the picture.

Start again.  And again.  Etc.

Coach this to go very, very fast.  There is no time to think--just go!

If there are two teams, they alternate.


Fast, Fast, Fast!

Make sure a different person starts each picture.


After a while, you might say, "Okay. . .on a count of three this becomes a moving picture!"

Or even, "A moving, talking picture!"

Author Unknown



Gibberish Sentences


Play the Game
Students sit in a semi-circle.  One student volunteers to go to the front, and glances at the top card in the pile.  (Sometimes I manipulate the deck so that the most advanced students get the hardest sentences.)  The student's job is to communicate the precise meaning of the sentence as efficiently as possible without the use of spoken language.  (Sometimes I say without making any sound, but usually I allow sounds as long as they are not words.  The title of the game comes from the fact that I sometimes allow the students to speak "gibberish" as they gesture.)  The student must imagine that he or she is a stranger in a new country and does not speak a word of the language.

Students raise their hands and try to guess the meaning of the sentence.  I do not, of course, insist on exact words, but I am fairly picky about precise shades of meaning.  (For example, if the card says, "I like your new haircut," I do not allow "Is that a new haircut?"  but I do allow "Nice haircut!")  Depending on the success of the class and the sophistication of the particular sentence, I may coach and hint--"you're close!" etc.  After a minute or two if no one has guessed the student tells the class what his sentence was.  If this happens I always ask the class for suggestions for how the student could have made the meaning clear.
I play the game until everyone has had a turn, or until time up.


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.