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Build a Play: How to teach Gospel Students through Drama

Here's a great example of using drama to help gospel students learn from Seminary Mom:

One of my number one desires as a seminary teacher is to have my students fall in love with the scriptures. I want them to know these individuals we read about who really lived a long time ago. I want the students to feel the truthfulness of what they are reading and to care so much about what they've studied, that they begin to instinctively apply gospel teachings. They will not always be in a seminary class with the gospel fed daily to them. I want them to learn on their own how to apply its sustenance to their souls.

I feel the students can only do this if they truly immerse themselves in the scriptures, not just hear about them. I want the students to live a life worth living in God's eyes. Again, I want them in the scriptures, not just hearing about them. Because one day (for all of them), if they are actually reading the scriptures diligently and finding them delicious, they, too, will have a powerful witness of the word of God - if they are actually reading these powerful words. I want that for them. So I seek to make all of my classes heavily based in the scriptures themselves, coupled with what is in the teacher's manual.

It is so important that these kids daily taste the living waters of the word of God. And if they're not reading them outside of class, I want to make sure I always have time in class for them to pour over their scriptures with a specific purpose. I guess that's why I'm always trying to think of ways to get them into the scriptures themselves, rather than just hearing me talk about them.

So today we put ourselves in the shoes of those we were reading about - literally. We did what I call "Build A Play." And what is exciting is the kids did all the work - and seemed to enjoy the experience of getting to know these historical figures and learning their important message.

First, to get us started, we reviewed the "backstory", the stuff that was happening before the "curtain" goes up in our current block of scripture: Helaman 7-9.

We did this by re-reading the chapter headings of Helaman 1-6. I wanted the students to remember during our brief review each essential step we had previously studied which led up to what would be happening today.

Each student took turns reading a heading from chapters 1-6, reviewing the significance of that chapter. Chapter by chapter, we quickly reviewed our previous studies until we arrived at today's block of scripture study (again, Helaman 7-9).

To give a bird's eye view to what we were about to explore now in chapters 7-9, we did the same thing - read the heading and briefly talk about the importance of each chapter.

The Assignments

At that point, I gave them individual roles to roleplay out of the three chapters Helaman 7-9. Their studies were to be intense. The roles I assigned were:

* Nephi, Son of Helaman (as found in all three chapters)

* Judges/secret Gadianton robbers (as found in 7:4-5; 8:1-7, 10; 9:11-13, 16-17, 19-20, 37)

* [Optional: Messengers (as found in 7:11) - but I would only include these if I had a very large class as this role is very small]

* The Open-hearted people (as found in 8:7-9)

* 5 witnesses (as found in 9:1-5, 13-15, 18)

* Murdered judge (as found in 8:27; 9:6)

* [Optional: Servants (as found in 9:6) - but I would only include these if I had a very large class as this role is very small]

* Multitude (as found in 9:7-10, 40-41)

Their assignment was two-fold:

As they dove into the scriptures, I passed out paper and had them write down responses to these four questions:

As you read in the scriptures about your assigned characters, write down the answers to the following questions. You may need to think deeply about what the answers might be....

What was the main motivation of your character (is obedience to God behind their decisions?)
Did they choose to listen to the prophet?
Why did Mormon include this in The Book of Mormon?
Most is the important concept learned in these verses?

Then they were to decide which verses to use as their dialogue for the play tomorrow. (I suggested they lightly circle the verse number for each verse they planned to use so that during the performance, "the play" run smoothly.)

But the most important part as they planned their dialogue was that they were NOT to make up their own dialogue in any way; they were strictly to use that which was recorded by Mormon.

(Obviously for the part of Nephi, Nephi's words had to be narrowed down. Otherwise the sleepy seminary students in the morning might fall asleep if all three chapters of Nephi's words were used! :0) But working through this was healthy for the student selected to play Nephi. He had to work doubly hard to ponder the weight of Nephi's message and to determine which verses to deliver to the class so they could share in Nephi's absolutely important message.

So in summary, today they researched, studied, and pondered the scriptures found in Helaman 7-9. Tomorrow they will present what they learned and put on their play!

The Next Day....

This morning the kids presented their production they had researched and prepared yesterday. I think they were surprised how much they enjoyed the experience and how much it flowed. They presented their play, reading dialogue as it appeared straight out of the chapters.

The words of the scriptures themselves are so potent and I believe the more the youth get into them, the more they will have the ability to avoid being deceived in today's world. It is so important they come every day to seminary, to be strengthened in the gospel and in the spirit. In yesterday and today's activity, not only were we able to discuss the important events of Helaman 7-9, the kids were actually able to live it!


Although I have costumes which I have used in the past, I didn't bring them out for this activity. I wanted the students to really focus on the words of the scriptures, rather than the fun costumes. But sometimes costumes can help the kids get into what they are doing. So if you do have costumes for the kids to throw on before they act out their roles from the scriptures - sometimes it can make everything that much better!

This post originally appeared at Seminary Mom's Seminary Class Notes blog. I am sharing it here so it doesn't get lost

Post Date: March 13, 2011
Scripture Reference: , ,
Age Group:
Author: Jenny Smith


Jenny Smith
Jenny Smith is a designer who started blogging in 2004 to share lesson and activity ideas with members of her home branch Mississippi. Her collection has grown, and she now single-handedly manages the world's largest collection of free lesson help for LDS teachers with faceted search. Her library includes teaching techniques, object lessons, mini lessons, handouts, visual aids, and doctrinal mastery games categorized by scripture reference and gospel topic. Jenny loves tomatoes, Star Trek, and her family -- not necessarily in that order.
Jenny Smith is a designer, blogger, and tomato enthusiast who lives in Virginia on a 350+ acre farm with her husband and one very grouchy cat.
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