Drama and role play

Please note: this guide was written before the 2014 National Curriculum and some of the advice may no longer be relevant.

Drama can play a spontaneous part in lessons, be a focal element in part of the course, or take the central role in a topic. It can be done by groups or the whole class.

Drama works best if it is set in a specific historical context. There are three strands involved:

  • the identity/roles of the people involved in the situation;
  • the time and place of the events;
  • a focus or issue that concerned the people involved.

Before you begin, decide what sort of historical learning you hope to achieve.

An historical resource such as a story, document, picture or artefact can provide a good starting focus for drama.


Some drama strategies

  • Teacher in role
  • Hot-seating
  • Making maps or plans
  • Still image
  • Overheard conversations
  • Forum theatre
  • Counsellors giving advice
  • Meetings


Lessons incorporating drama in the resources section of this website:

Queen Victoria and the trains at KS1
Roman baths (KS1)
Roman market (KS1)
The Great Plague of London (KS1)
Gunpowder plot
Florence Nightingale (KS1)

Archimedes and the Syracusan War
The end of Roman Britain
Vikings: Egils Saga

Children in Victorian Britain: Henry at boarding-school


Short lessons

Role play
Ancient Egypt:Akhenaten

Victorian chimney-sweep

Discussion and debate
Columbus: was he a hero?

The Thing and Viking migration

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