Three Chairs, A Drama Activity for Language Classes


I’ll share a quick drama activity I learned from our drama club while performing at an event at school.

  • Put 3 chairs in front of the board.
  • Put labels on the chairs as “sad-1”, “happy-2″,”angry-3”
  • Write some situations on slips of papers and put them in a box. (You are waiting at the bus stop and the bus is late / You are going to take an important exam /You are travelling to …
  • Let students choose a slip of paper
  • Give them a few minutes to prepare a very short story based on the situation they have on their papers.

Begin with the volunteers. Explain the rules.

Tell students that you will shout a number from 1 to 3 and she/he will sit on that chair and start telling the story according to the emotion written on the chair. While the student is telling the story change the numbers randomly.

This activity will be suitable for intermediate and above but I think it can also be tried with beginners as a reading aloud activity. The teacher can give a text to practise reading aloud and then asks the students to read the text sadly, angrily, cheerfully, etc


Eveline vs Edna, Reading Short Stories in Class

Another short story I love reading with my students is Eveline from Dubliners. I know it is difficult to understand Joyce for a teenager yet when guided, students get something from Dubliners. I have tried Eveline and Araby and they worked well.

I’d like to share what I do with ‘Eveline’.

Describe Ireland, Dublin and Dubliners at the beginning of the 20th century.

Create a glogster

Add links and ask students to research and tell you what they’ve come up with.

Talk about women’s place in society

Talk about daughters’ place in families.

Talk about unemployment. Causes and results.

How can unemployment change a person?

Introduce vocabulary.

Create a wordle of the story.

Put students in groups and ask them to guess the story.

Read the story and discuss your questions.

As a follow up, distribute a handout with the 1st paragraph of the story on.

Tell students to continue the story and adapt it to 21st century. I’m sure their Eveline will be more courageous.

Tell them to digitalise their story.

They can create a slideshow, glogster, comic or an animation.

Here you can see what I had previously wrote about ‘Eveline’

After reading Eveline then Enoch’s Two Letters by Alan Sillitoe, one of the angry young men of literature, I realized we can compare the two women in these two stories, Eveline and Edna. When I choose to read Eveline in class, I usually continue with Enoch’s Two Letters.

After we read the story, I tell my students to compare and contrast Eveline and Edna

  • They can write an essay
  • Create posters (glogster) describing two women, highlighting their differences.
  • They can write a pop song comparing Eveline and Edna.

A handout for Eveline and Enoch’s Two Letters

And I will also be glad if you share your ideas 🙂

Reading Short Stories ~ Roald Dahl in Class

One of my favourite writers for the ‘Reading Class’ is Roald Dahl. I’ve been using his short stories for almost a decade and the students have always loved them.

I just came across with this pdf

But you can also get more ideas for using Bloom’s taxonomy in reading classes which I find very practical when preparing my own handouts for my students

I mostly use the following Roald Dahl stories with my 11th and 12th graders.

The Landlady, a very shocking story and teenagers love it.

Here are some great lessons of the story I found on the net.

Word games and puzzles

An adaptation on YouTube

My suggestion as a follow up:

Pretend you are Billy. You just found out what happened to the two young men and realised you were also poisoned, and locked into a room. Luckily you have still your mobile (as the landlady is a little bit old-fashioned she hadn’t known anything about mobiles and social media). Write a text message to a close friend, update your status on Facebook and send a tweet to the whole world and ask for help. Write your version of the story.

Create a scrapbook based on the setting, events and characters from the story. (You can use a web 2.0 option for this task)

My students’ web 2.0 projects on the story.

The Way Up To Heaven

A YouTube video

A suggestion on how to analyse this story

A pre reading task:

Lamb to Slaughter

Years ago my students adapted the story to stage, wrote the script and performed. Unfortunately in those years, technology was not like this and I was also a bit technophobic so even a simple camera recording isn’t available now.

Here are some links to inspire you to prepare your own

A Short story inspired writing lesson

From Roald Dahl’s fans

A web 2.0 suggestion:

You can watch a clip fro Hitchcock’s ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ then ask the students to redirect the movie. They have can prepare a PowerPoint presentation, a prezi or a glogster and introduce to the class their cast, soundtrack, setting, etc giving their reasons why they chose the actors and the music. They can also create a movie poster.

More ideas for reading classes:

Or if you can read all the stories in a row, maybe you can ask the similarities of these three women.

Fun with Class Readers 1

Fun with Class Readers 2

Fun with Class Readers 3

Reading Challenge

And don’t forget to visit the beautiful official Roald Dahl page


Teachers as Storytellers



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”I actually think one of my strengths is my storytelling”.
Quentin Tarantino

Last week we talked about storytelling at ELTChat and Leahn summarised the chat on her blog. You can find many interesting ideas and links there.

While chatting I realised the chat is more focused on students’ telling or writing stories.I attended the winter warmer at British Council Istanbul and listened to Carol Read and Alec Williams and amazed how powerful their stories were and then I had another chance to listen to a great storyteller, Jan Blake, at Istek Elt. It didn’t stop there and luckily I attended Michael Berman’s IATEFL talk and I’m very much interested in telling stories in efl classrooms at the moment.


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I’m not a good storyteller. I invented stories for my kids but I must confess I was not a master but as they were ready to hear my stories, they used to listen to me attentively. Yet, listening to all these wonderful people I mentioned above, I decided to tell a story to my grade 5 students. I chose a story with a lot of repetition and rhymes. I found some drawings for the animals in the story, prepared a handout to pre-teach vocabulary then instructed some very easy tasks for while listening and after the story finished, we found other rhyming pairs together and they wrote their own stories.

Last week at BESL 2011, Prof. Sy-ying Lee suggested preparing power point for the images in the story. The alternatives to tell stories in the classroom are almost endless.

I usually find my students’ stories very dull and I’m sure you also complain from time to time that those stories lack imagination. Recently, I put some of the blame on teachers. Students cannot tell stories if they don’t hear stories. I’m sure there are wonderful teachers telling stories in their classrooms but I’m pretty sure that there are others who are mainly concerned with the curriculum. Teaching is role-modelling. If we do something with great enthusiasm, our students will also follow us. I go back to the 1st plenary of Istek Elt and remember Jan Blake, she just led us to the amazing world of stories.

What kind of stories we can tell in the class?

  1. Real stories, our stories to make them realise that they also have stories to tell.
  2. Stories with a lot of repetitions and rhymes to teach certain grammar point or vocabulary.
  3. Fairy tales, cultural tales to encourage critical thinking and discussion.


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Some useful links for storytelling

Alec Williams in Istanbul
Jan Blake at Istek Elt and more Jan Blake on youtube.
The magic of story time
 Story telling for preschoolers, guidelines and how-to tell a story
While writing this post I came across with this wonderful post, Fairy tales continued on  The Hedghog Blog.
‘Stories in Language Teaching’
And don’t forget to bookmark Leahn’s wonderful summary with lots of ideas and links for the production stage.