Using drama to develop the "Show not Tell" technique in writing.

The other day I came across this image shared on twitter by @shaunh0pper:

It got me thinking about how I could enhance this idea using drama and the iPads. I decided to have a go at creating our own Show and Tell digital display.

The year 2 class have been thinking a lot about character descriptions and how we can improve our writing. We started by looking at this picture:
2014-01-30 10.30.03

 We discussed that every row demonstrates a different emotion. We then looked at which emotion each row displays. We tried to explain how we knew the character was happy/sad/scared/nervous and this led us to think that if we explain how a character is acting it will then show how that character feels.

I came across the "Show not Tell technique," in Alan Peat's Improving Story Writing book. The idea is that it is more effective to show how a character acts, rather than simply stating he is happy. I always say that writing should compliment the reader's intelligence and simply stating that a character is a happy doesn't do that.

Once we had discussed different ideas, I set the challenge for the children. They had one emotion per group and had to come up with an action each that they could act to portray that emotion. By children physically acting it out, I was hoping the idea would stay with them so they would use it in their writing. To help them develop their vocabulary further, I gave each group some examples from the phenomenal book "Descriptosarus."  This book is amazing for banks of words and phrases to help with story writing. Along with the children's ideas, they could then match it with interesting and varied word choices.

We then filmed each of the children acting out their action. Another member of their team then read their phrase linked to the action. All the children's videos were then mixed into a thinglink image to make an interactive digital poster. I told the class that this poster would be shared on the school blog and maybe used by classes around the world as a way to effectively describe a character by their actions. Here is their effort:


  1. This is fantastic! Not only have I never come across thinglink before but I am definitely going to use this idea for developing descriptive writing. Thank you.


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