This Setting Needs...

Number of Players


What Is It and Why Use It?

In This Setting Needs students build an environment with their bodies based on a teacher’s prompt. By embodying objects/people/animals/actions in a space, students explore the many characteristics and aspects of a location, setting, environment, or event.


Invite students to sit together on the floor or in chairs as an audience, facing a large empty space. Introduce the strategy: Today we will create an environment or a setting using only our bodies. If needed, help students to construct a shared definition of the word “setting” or “environment” as a place or location where an event takes place. Next, invite students to build a familiar setting. The first setting we are going to create is a playground. Everyone take a moment and think of the different things and people that you would find on a playground. When you have an idea, please raise your hand. I will invite you to come into our stage space and shape your body into a frozen action of something you do or might find on playground, as you describe what you’ve become. Offer a few examples to the group. This setting needs ­­­a swing. Then become a swing set or become a person on a swing. Or, this setting needs a game of tag, as you become a child about to tag another person. Once instructions are clear, begin the activity. Encourage students to make specific physical choices that they can hold for a few minutes. Build each setting until 5-10 students are on stage. Once the image is built, ask questions to the audience: What do you see in this setting? What clues do the actors give you to help you understand who they are/what they are doing/how they feel about it?  If you had to give this setting a title, what would you title it? After the questions are completed, give students a round of applause and have them return to their seats. Repeat the activity, this time inviting the group to create an image of a location, setting, environment, or event tied to day’s inquiry.

  • What settings did we create today? How did we use our bodies to show the setting?
  • What actions did we see in the settings? What relationships did we see?
  • How does creating and interpreting these settings together help us to think about (different environments, our story, the way we infer to make meaning, etc.)?
Possible Side-Coaching
  • Show me the character/object with your body. Be as specific as possible
  • What else is missing from our setting?
Possible Variations/Applications
  • Have each student create the setting silently without explaining what he or she is doing
  • READING/WRITING, SOCIAL STUDIES, SCIENCE: Students are invite to choose a setting, moment in history, environment or process and begin to construct the image without sharing where it is. Others try to figure out what the image is and join in, one at a time. After 4-10 people have entered the round ends as everyone shares what setting they imagined and compares their ideas.
Source Citations