Travel/Time Machine

Number of Players


What Is It and Why Use It?

Travel/Time Machine is a dramatic device used as a physical ritual to transition or “travel” into and out of an imagined place in a story, across time, or in another part of the world. This strategy is used to dialogue about and prepare for the imagined journey; it is often used to lead into other role work strategies such as Narrative Pantomime, Hot seating, or Paired Improvisation.


Invite students to make a seated circle. Introduce the larger content area to be explored. Today we will travel back in time to meet the Tonkawa people who lived in this land 300 years ago. Take time to assess prior knowledge and share information that might be useful for the trip. Next, explain that the group will be building and operating a time machine together to imaginatively travel to difference place and/or time. Lead the group through a series of pantomimed actions to prepare for travel (e.g., build the time machine, pack for their journey, put on a helmet, fasten seatbelts, and/or start the engine of the time machine). Once prepared, invite the group to count down from ten to zero. Make a traveling sound (clicking the tongue in the mouth works well) and then count down again from ten to zero for landing. Next, lead actions to leave the time machine (un-do seatbelts, take off helmets, and turn off the machine) and offer any necessary final instructions about the new place. From this point, step into a Narrative Pantomime or another type of Dramatic Dilemma to explore the new place. After the trip is completed, repeat the time machine pantomime process with the group to travel back to the present day or prior location.

  • How did it feel to use the Time Machine to get to and from our destination?
  • What do you remember most about our trip?
  • What did we discover about ­­­­________ and what connections can we make to our classroom work?
Possible Side-Coaching
  • What is another part of our time machine we need to make sure we build?
  • What do we need to do to keep our bodies safe as we travel through time?
  • What do you expect to see or hear when we arrive at our destination?
Possible Variations/Applications
  • Science: Have students travel to different seasons or ecosystems. Based on where they’re traveling, they have to make decisions about what they will pack. Once there, students can explore the weather, surrounding environment/geography, plant/animal life, etc.
  • Social Studies: Have students travel back in time to a specific time period or event. While there, students might engage in Paired Improv or Hot Seating with different individuals from that time period and/or involved in an important event in history.
  • Reading/Writing: Have students travel into a story setting and/or conflict. The students and teacher might also create and travel to an imaginary world, then write about their experiences in that world after as prompt for creative or persuasive writing.
Source Citations

Katie Dawson