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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Emotions And The Senses - Workshop Idea(s) for KS2/3

Here are some activities centred around emotions and the senses that I have used with a degree of success in various different settings. I have found that they are great imagination-stretching exercises for younger pupils (sometimes as young as Year 2), as well as being techniques for encouraging reluctant older pupils to produce often strikingly good material. They can be strung together as part of the same lesson, or taken and adapted to form separate sessions. The beauty of the exercises is that they have the potential to address physical, performative, listening, imaginative and writing skills within a single lesson. 

Physical Exercise

Pupils generate a list of ten emotion words ('happy' and 'sad' are banned), with the help of the teacher. Pupils walk around the space, not talking or touching each other. The teacher calls out words from the list, and the pupils have to walk and move their bodies as though they are feeling that emotion. 

Performance Exercise

Each pupil is provided with a very short poem - 'The White Horse' by D.H. Lawrence works well. Each pupil then chooses an emotion word from the list generated in the warm up, and keeps it a secret. Pupils take it in turns reading out the poem in the style of their chosen emotion word. The rest of the class listens carefully, and tries to work out what the relevant word is. 

Writing Exercise

Each pupil chooses a different emotion word from the list, keeping it a secret and not writing it down. Through a series of quick-fire, timed exercises, the teacher directs the pupils to imagine what their emotion TASTES, SOUNDS, SMELLS, FEELS and LOOKS like. Here are some tips for this part of the session:
  • pupils write in full-sentences
  • each sense begins on a new line
  • see if they can use a different sentence starter each time
  • for the 'looks' exercise, they can illustrate it instead of writing about it
The students will all have ended up with a poem without even realising it! The poem they have written reveals the importance of the 'show don't tell' dictum - i.e. that it can be more powerful to demonstrate how an emotion is felt rather than simply to say that it is - as well as the importance of making use of a wide variety of sense data when undertaking a piece of creative writing. Once each pupil has written a poem, they can perform it while the rest of the class tries to work out which emotion is being talked about. Once they have worked it out, this can then become the title of the poem!