Party Hats – more extended Drama

Posted: November 8, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Following on from the positive feedback from my ROBOT Drama post, I’ve decided to put up another game that works well over an English (or Drama) class. Once again, it is one that I recall from the out-of-print When Are We Going to Have More Drama by Peter Moore. It provides for some good follow-up work covering communication and prejudice, which I’ll come back to at the end of the post.

Premise: Students are, in groups of three, to make a party hat.

Procedure: The fiddly, time consuming bit comes in the set up for this lesson, which is the only real downside. You will need to get 8 bags (for a class of 24 – for numbers less than this, just remove a bag per three students), 8 “lots” (2-3 big broadsheets work well) of newspaper, 7 lots of scissors, 7 lots of stick tape and various smaller items that are self-explanatory from the instructions that are found in each bag. I also look to put a piece of coloured paper in the bag (like an A4 sheet size of one colour) that can be used to help highlight the hat’s “beauty”.

When your students enter the class and are in groups of three, one member can select a bag that, to all intents, appear the ‘same’. There are no ‘returns’ on the bag – it is a lucky dip that you commit to.

Here are the 8 sets of instructions that you split,  putting one in each bag. You will see that the instructions are simple and outline the task very effectively:


*You are to make a party hat. *You have 25 minutes to make it. *You have no handicap.


*You are to make a party hat. *You have 25 minutes to make it. *Two of your members are blindfolded. *Only these two are able to use the materials.

Paper hat

From the basic… (Photo credit: shufgy)


*You are to make a party hat.

*You have 25 minutes to make it.

*Each member will have masking tape placed over the mouth to stop talking.


*You are to make a party hat.

*You have 25 minutes to make it.

*You are not allowed to use your writing hand. This must be placed behind your back at all times.


*You are to make a party hat. *You have 25 minutes to make it. *You must use your tie to bind your wrists together (separately) and must work in this fashion.


*You are to make a party hat.

*You have 25 minutes to make it.


To the unlikley… (Photo credit: George Eastman House)

*You must use your tie to bind your left wrist to the right wrist of one of your team members (and theirs to yours).


*You are to make a party hat.

*You have 25 minutes to make it.

*You have no scissors.


*You are to make a party hat.

*You have 25 minutes to make it.

*You have no tape.

Run Through and Follow Up: Reading through the above will probably prove self-explanatory as to how the game would run. While the task is running you are likely to find: that the group without sticky tape finds the process the most challenging, that students may use their initiative and may use any and all (including the scissors!) products – and the bag – in making their hat, that you will need to monitor some groups more than others to see that they “stick” to their challenge.

At the end, students model their hats at a hat parade. From this point, some follow up activities that extend the drama  in a number of directions can include:

  • students create a one minute ‘pitch‘ to accompany the launch of the hat – this can be used to promote (and perhaps explain!) the hat and its features
  • having an outsider ‘judge‘ the hats. One aspect to this is to not tell about the handicaps, or perhaps to amend this by mentioning that there are handicaps but not which ones are which
  • once the judging has been done (and the clean up!), a debrief on the task is useful. This includes the students’ reaction (especially when the judge knew nothing of the handicaps) to not winning. Stimulus points for discussion are useful, such as how wider society views individuals and groups (e.g. judging us on our handicaps and not our potential) as well as how both communication and handicapping can affect group and individual dynamics.

Overall, this can be a messy, noisy and enjoyable lesson and can act as an effective ‘one off’, or a good segue to units dealing with underprivileged groups, ‘able’ society and its responsibilities, and communication and values more generally. Let me know if you’d like further Drama ideas and suggestions like this and the ROBOT game.

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