Getting Ideas

Lesson 3: Getting Ideas


Lesson Objective: Students will demonstrate an ability to brainstorm story ideas relevant to their personal belief system or their community by participating in classroom activities.



TH:Cn10.1.8 – Examine a community issue through multiple perspectives in a drama work.


Materials Needed:

 “The Problem We All Live With” by Norman Rockwell (copy in the unit of lessons attachment)



Show students the Norman Rockwell painting on the projector. Ask them to please be sensitive and respectful as we are talking about a historical event and a real person and an issue that affects our country and its citizens today. Give a quick history of the painting (Ruby Bridges was six when her school in New Orleans finally integrated and allowed her to attend a previously all white school. This is Norman Rockwell’s depiction of her long walk into the school, protected by four guards.) Ask students to write a short scene inspired by this painting. This can be Ruby’s inner monologue, it can be her talking to herself or the audience. It can include dialogue from the guards or from the onlooking crowd that was booing and throwing tomatoes at her. It can be from the perspective of someone in the 1960 watching this on TV. You may even choose to pull a theme from this painting and write a story based on that theme and not necessarily this story. Be creative. Get inspired. Please be sensitive and avoid using derogatory language.


Step 1:

Get into pairs and share what you were able to finish so far. Is there anyone who would like to share? If there is more than one character, you may do a dramatic reading which means characters are assigned and the play is read with emotion but not necessarily acted out. This is what we will do with our final scripts as well.


Step 2:

After students share, have a class discussion.

What made these stories meaningful? Is this an issue that our country still faces? Why might it be valuable to read and watch plays about these themes or issues?


This is one way to get ideas for your plays. Choose an important issue that our community has dealt with or is still dealing with and tell a story about it! This is one way we can make meaningful art. 


Today we are going to do a few different activities to help us come up with ideas for our final scripts. Please be paying attention to things you like or don’t like and ideas that come to your mind.


Step 3:

Everyone sit in a circle with a piece of paper and something to write with. Don’t write your name on the paper. Don’t think too hard about this. Take thirty seconds for each step.


Write a main idea or theme at the top of the paper. Fold the part of the paper that has been written on over so that the theme cannot be seen. Pass the paper to your left.

Write a profession on the paper. Fold it again so what you wrote can’t be seen. Pass the paper to your left.

Write a Place. Fold the paper, pass to your left.

Write two nouns. Any nouns. It can be a food, an article of clothing, a person, an animal, etc.

Fold the paper. Pass to your left.


Who can tell me what a plot summary is? Now unfold the paper in your hands. You now need to spend the next 3 minutes writing the plot summary of a story including these elements. Think of how the different things written on your paper can come together into an interesting story that focuses on the main idea or theme written at the top. Have fun. There aren’t any rules to how you do this. Just DO IT.


Step 4:

This is just another way to brainstorm ideas. Keep trying new things until you figure out what story you want or need to tell. I encourage you, whatever you do, to make it meaningful. Make it something you are proud to put your name on because you are talking about something important or significant to you.


Assign Homework: Come to class with the plot summaries of at least 2 different story ideas that you might use for your final scripts.


Step 5:

Until the end of class, have students do this brainstorming activity:

Write a list of everything you remember from your life from beginning to end. The day you lost your toy at the beach when you were 2. The day your first grade teacher wouldn’t let you go to the bathroom and you peed your pants in class. The day you lost your first tooth.


Choose one of those events to write a story about. It is helpful if this event is meaningful to you. It might be because it reminds you of good memories or people you love. It might be because you learned something important that day. But figure out why these memories stand out to you and use that to inspire your stories!  It doesn’t have to be about YOU but you can draw inspiration from this real life event and maybe place other characters in a similar situation or use that story in the plot of the larger story you tell.