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Vivid Vocabulary

Last changed: 05/01/2018 12:29pm
6 , 7 , 8
Theatre English Science
Grade Level Program Integration
5 45 min


Five, 45 - 60 minute sessions with a Sharing (no additional production elements required) or other culminating project for individual classes or the entire grade level during the fifth session

The length of each session can be adjusted to accommodate a middle school schedule.

Classes are typically held once a week. However, at the discretion of the teacher(s) the program may be completed in 1 or 2 weeks or spread out further to allow time for completion of classroom activities/assignments designed by the Teaching Artist with the Classroom Teacher(s).

The program can be designed and scheduled to introduce, integrate throughout or serve as a follow-up to the selected curricular unit.

*If the school calendar does not allow for 5 visits, the Teaching Artist can provide an adjusted version of the residency with 3 or 4 sessions.
In-School Short Term Residency
All year
$10 0
yes In-Person


Props needed for Drama activities to supplement available classroom resources

Originals for handouts or prompts to be used with activities during class, for individual follow-up and reflection or conducted by the classroom teacher to deepen student learning between sessions




Easel and large pad of paper with markers, if available

Paper (unlined) and Pencil for each student

Copies of handouts for students as needed


Open space in classroom or multi-purpose space large enough for entire class to participate on their feet simultaneously or spread out to work in small groups.

Access to tables/desks and chairs for writing and/or drawing related to the activities.

A suitable outdoor space near the building for sensory exploration.

If selecting a Sharing for the entire grade, will need a large enough space for all classes to meet together to present and view. Could be a stage, but not required. Should be scheduled for each class individually in session 4 and for the entire grade for session 5


I can demonstrate focus and concentration by using one or more of my 5 senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and/or smell) to fully explore an environment or object.

I can use appropriate grade-level vocabulary to vividly describe by speaking, writing or drawing what I see, hear, smell, touch and/or taste in a sensory experience of an environment or object.

I can use precise words and phrases and sensory language to add at least 3 relevant descriptive details to convey experiences and events in a written narrative or poem.

I can use sensory recall to add at least 3 concrete details or examples to a written informative or explanatory text on topics such as systems of the body, laws of motion, changing land formations or the solar system




The constant request to “add more details” often frustrates young writers. In Vivid Vocabulary, improvisational theatre exercises based on the work of Viola Spolin give students the tools to discover and describe the world around them. The experiences heighten sensory awareness, expand sensory recall and stimulate imagination/creativity; thus helping students improve vocabulary and add vivid detail to their writing, both fiction and nonfiction. Each session builds personal responsibility through individual exploration and expression and encourages cooperation with partners and group collaboration through drama activities, discussion and feedback.

What students will do:

Students will participate in a series of exercises challenging them to wake up to their environment and empowering them to clearly communicate what they experience. They will learn to turn off the “auto-pilot” by tuning in to their senses and practicing focus of attention and concentration. As observation skills improve, students will recall and reflect by writing, drawing or speaking to a partner. Ultimately, they will incorporate the sensory details from their observations into writing a poem, story or descriptive paragraph. Alternatively, the experience can be designed to help provide students with relevant facts and concrete details to use in writing an effective essay, historical narrative or scientific report. Sessions culminate with students presenting a selected portion of their work to the class.

Consider having students participate in one of these successful applications or work with the Teaching Artist to design your own project to meet their specific needs:

7th and 8th graders adding sensory details to descriptive paragraphs of locations from novels they are writing using NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

6th and 7th graders writing and illustrating original Haikus

7th and 8th graders analyzing imagery and details in poetry

6th, 7th and 8th graders applying their observation skills to incorporating detail as they develop Science Fair projects and write/present reports




Exercises may include: Seeing a Sport, Listening to the Environment, What Am I Listening To?, Identifying Objects, What's That Food? and Blindfolded Trust Walk.

At least one of the activities is best done in the outdoors, weather permitting.

Teachers may request adapting the program to a particular unit, topic or project from the current grade level curriculum and focus the writing assignments accordingly.

*All ACTive Learning programs have been developed and implemented by a professional Theatre Educator in collaboration with Classroom Teachers and Arts Specialists.

1-3 are welcome, if the classroom teacher desires. They can be most helpful in the 4th and 5th sessions to facilitate preparing and implementing the grade level Share.

Grade 6

Grade 6: Writing Standards: Text Types and Purposes # 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well structured event sequences. d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
Grade 6: Science Standards: Structure, Function and Information Processing: MS-LS1-8. Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.
Grade 6: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 3: Revise and complete artistic work.: a. Articulate and examine choices to refine a devised or scripted drama/theatre work.
Grade 6: Theatre: Performing: Anchor Standard 5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. a. Recognize how acting exercises and techniques can be applied to a drama/theatre work.

Grade 7

Grade 7: Writing Standards: Text Types and Purposes # 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well structured event sequences. d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
Grade 7: Science Standards: Structure, Function and Information Processing: MS-LS1-8. Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.
Grade 7: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 3: Revise and complete artistic work.: a. Demonstrate focus and concentration in the rehearsal process to analyze and refine choices in a devised or scripted drama/theatre work.
Grade 7: Theatre: Performing: Anchor Standard 5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. a. Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.

Grade 8

Grade 8: Writing Standards: Text Types and Purposes # 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well structured event sequences. d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
Grade 8: Science Standards: Structure, Function and Information Processing: MS-LS1-8. Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.
Grade 8: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 3: Revise and complete artistic work.: a. Use repetition and analysis in order to revise devised or scripted drama/theatre work.
Grade 8: Theatre: Performing: Anchor Standard 5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. a. Use a variety of acting techniques to increase skills in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.
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