Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Blocking Exercise

Subject Area

Arts Education




Through this activity the students will collaborate, problem solve, and decipher the blocking that creates a scene. The students will develop the physical and vocal traits of their characters in the scenarios based on the blocking.

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 7 - Theatre


    Develop effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work.

    Unpacked Content




    Skills Assessed
    Exploring the Concepts:
    • Expression in improvisation and group collaboration with prompts demands personal reflection and group problem solving techniques.
    • Expression in improvisation and group collaboration with prompts demands personal reflection and group problem solving techniques.
    • Students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills and use creative initiative in projecting and evaluating unique approaches to a specific task.

    Essential Questions

    EU: Theatre artists refine their work and practice their craft through rehearsal.
    EQ: How do theatre artists transform and edit their initial ideas?

    Skills Examples

    • Use theatre as an exploration in the use of the 5 W's of improvisation (who, what, when, where, and why) through expression and group collaboration. Students will use prompts demanding personal reflection and group problem solving inspired by the influence of character, relationships, setting, and conflict. Students will discover how the 5 W's are revealed through the practice of improvisation. The students will perform a short improvisational scene.
    Suggested Improv Resources:
    • Improvisation for the Theatre- Viola Spolin
    • Theatre Games for the Classroom: A Teacher's Handbook- Viola Spolin
    • Theatre Games for Rehearsal: A Director's Handbook- Viola Spolin
    • http://improvencyclopedia.org/games/
    • Teachers use concentration games to build focus. These activities are used to help children to develop a sustained focus of the mind, body and voice.
    • If it is within the group capability, teacher can introduce The Method and Stanislavski.
    Suggested Concentration Games to Strengthen Young Actors:

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 3: Refine and complete artistic work.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    The students will develop physical and vocal traits for characters using provided blocking. The students will perform their blocking exercise using the traits of the characters they developed.

    Activity Details

    This is lesson uses backward design. The students will memorize the given blocking then create characters with specific physical and vocal traits for their blocking. The students create their traits and characters from the story the blocking tells. 

    The students will be in groups of 5.

    Give each group this blocking:

    A knocks/ C looks at B/ B Looks out window/ B turns back from window/ B nods at C/C turns to D/ C nods to D/ D crosses behind C and goes to the door/ D reaches for doorknob/ D opens door and steps back/ A enters stopping by D/ A nods to D/ A looks at C/ A crosses to C's right and stops/ D crosses back to C's left/ C turns to A/ A shakes head negative/ C Looks back front/ C stands/ C turns to left and starts to cross around D/ E raises hand to stop C/ C stops/ C looks at E/ C looks to left/ C exits/ A crosses in front of chair/ A sits/ D crosses around to right of chair/ A looks at E/ E crosses to A's left/ A looks front/ A looks right at B/ B turns away to right/ A turns front

    Give students 15 minutes to cast and memorize the blocking. It is important that they just memorize the blocking first.

    Next, ask the students to come up with a scenario for the blocking and the characters within their scenario. Many times, they have already started creating a scenario without the teacher even asking. Lastly, remind them that their characters need to include detailed physical and vocal traits. 

    For example, the group may decide that the blocking is a story about a king being overthrown and leaving the castle. Each member of the group decides who their character is, based on the blocking, and how their character reacts vocally and physically in the scene. They must stay within the structure of the blocking but can create any character that fits the story within the blocking.

    Coach the students to memorize the blocking. This is a problem solving activity. They need to follow through and not give up.

    Have the students rehearse their scenes with the characters they created. Are they becoming the character by making choices related to physical and vocal traits?

    Lastly, have the students perform for the other groups.

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Informal assessment:

    Did the students memorize the blocking?

    Are the students collaborating?

    Are the students developing effective physical and vocal traits for their characters?

    Formal Assessment: Have each group perform their scenario with the blocking for the class. Is each group member making effective physical and vocal choices to convey the story their group created?

    Variation Tips

    Relate this activity to the importance of blocking and staging. Blocking and staging tells a story on stage. The students usually can really grasp that concept after experiencing this activity.

    Consider creating an exit slip that asks, "How does blocking relate to the story onstage?"

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    Students need to have copies of the blocking. Students need to be in groups of 5.