Character Picnic

Educational Objective:

Students will be able to discover and practice their character’s physical, emotional, and mental motivators by competing in a relay race as their character. Students will be able to perform their characters to be true and believable by participating in a classroom picnic as their characters and writing a reflection paper on their experience.


Facet of Understanding

#1 Explanation, # 2 -Interpretation, # 3 Application, #4 Perspective,
#5 Empathy, #6 Self-Knowledge


Enduring Understanding 1:

True and believable characters come from who the actor is and
what he/she brings to them.


Enduring Understanding 2:

Theatre teaches empathy for self and others


Enduring Understanding 3:

Actors must use their own bodies to take on the character’s physical attributes.


Enduring Understand 4:

Theatre artists can reflect on experiences through performance



Enduring Understanding 1:

Characters approach the same situations differently.



Enduring Understanding 2:

Actors use their own motivations to portray their characters’ motivations.


Enduring Understanding 3:

When we focus on the character’s motivations, our body movements follow naturally to become the character.



Essential Question 1:

How do we keep our goals in mind as we pursue various tasks?


Essential Question 2:

How does character motivation and pursuit of objectives influence body movements?


Essential Question 3:

How does the world around us influence theatre?


Essential Question 4:

How does empathy play a part of performance?




Cardboard/carpet squares (10-15). Play Rope (with or without knots tied in it).
Plates, napkins, silverware, cups.
Blankets if desired. (Or can assign these to kids beforehand, so say, “If your food requires utensils or cups then bring them. If you don’t want to sit on the grass and want a blanket, bring it.”)
Preparation: Think of a tour guide character with a name, personality, physicalizations and a brief backstory so you can join them in character. Doesn’t have to be terribly extensive. Just enough to join them and model. Example: Tour guide Barbie, the Crocodile Hunter, etc.




Give students a few minutes to change into costumes/gather food items.

Step 1 – Find an area outside to set up. Designate an area to put the food, and an area to sit.
Step 2 – Character Presentations: Each student will stand up and present their food and costume. Present what they did and why they chose to do what they did and any symbolism it may contain. These presentations do not have to occur in character.
Step 3 – Into Character: After presentations have finished tell the students we are going into character and will remain in character until the end of the class. I’ll give you the signal when to go out of character. Halfway through I will join you as a character. You’ll see when I do this.
Step 4 – Picnic Lunch: Students will have a few minutes to eat and interact in character. Join them, walk around and ask each character questions relevant to their characters. (Ex. To Elizabeth Bennett one might say, “How is your family? Are your sisters doing well?”) Informally evaluate how they respond to your questions, and whether they are consistent and accurate in their portrayals/interpretations of various characters.
Step 5 – Tour of Natural Wildlife Preserve/Candyland: Teacher joins them in character as the Tour Guide. Take them on a tour of the “Natural Wildlife Preserve” or of Candy Land. Whichever you prefer. In character continuously remind them to stay with the group and not to hurt the wildlife (We had lots of ants I didn’t want them to step on – mostly for their sakes.)
Teacher may edit/omit activities as necessary.
Tip: Build up these activities as real and a big deal! The more you believe in it, the more they will.

All of the following activities will occur in character:

Step 6 – First Stop: Lava River/Hot Chocolate River: Students must use cardboard/Carpet Squares to get across the “River.” They must get Everyone across, and they cannot lose contact with the cardboard/carpet squares (stepping stones/marshmallows) or else the squares will be swept away. Pay really close attention so you can enforce this rule, especially at the beginning. If they fall off the squares they have to go back to the beginning and restart.
If they lose so many you start feeling sorry for them or it looks like they’re going to give up, tell them you will give them one or two back if they can sing a common children’s song in character really well. Ex. Row Row Row your Boat; Mary Had a Little Lamb; etc.
Encourage them to work together and to use teamwork, concentration, and focus to get everyone across.
Variation: The squares get stuck in the thick jello, and can’t move once they’re stuck. Ie. The students have to throw the squares from the side in order to be able to get across.
Step 7 – Second Stop: Big Boulder/Gumdrop Boulder: Oh no! There is a big (invisible) boulder in our path! We need to all work together to lift the boulder and carry it to the other side of the tree. This is a pantomimed activity. Goal, to use characters in pantomime to work together to complete activity.
Step 8 –Third Stop: Cliff Bridge/Candy Cane Bridge: We are coming up on a bridge, but the ropes of it are all tangled! We need to work together to untangle it!
There is a (real) rope with a bunch of knots tied in it. As many knots as there are people. Each person grabs the rope between two of the knots. Without letting go, moving or sliding their hand they have to untie the knots so all are gone. This will cause them to have to crawl through some knots as they are loosened. Encourage them to work together and use teamwork to complete. Don’t play so you can enforce and watch carefully that they’re not cheating and lifting their hands off.
Variation: Rope is tied at both ends and is coiled into a bunch of circles. Everyone has to put one hand on a different section of the rope and work together to untangle the rope so they are left standing in one big circle. In this one they may slide their hands along the rope, but they cannot let go. It’s basically the human knot with a rope.
Step 9 –Fourth Stop: Jangly Jungle/Licorice Jungle: Play red rover to “break through” the Licorice Vines and get out of the jungle. Students in two lines, holding hands. One person starts by saying: “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Jack Sparrow come over!” Whereupon Jack Sparrow runs and tries to break through the arms of someone in that line. If he makes it he will stay out and watch/cheer on the others. If he doesn’t make it he joins that line. Play until one line makes it all the way through. Encourage them not to hurt each other.
Step 10 – Fifth Stop: (Rolo) Troll Hole: Tug of War: There is a troll guarding the path/bridge. He likes people to prove their strength before he’ll let them through. So he’s left a rope (the same one you untangled earlier) to prove your strength. Break into teams and play tug of war. Again encourage them not to hurt each other. Mark of the space they have to pull the other team across in order to win.
Variation: This could also be done pantomimed without a rope. That forces them to Really pay attention to others and for one team to decide together whether they will lose/win.
Tip: Do NOT play tug of war if there are any knots left in the rope! (They will never ever come out.)
Step 11 – Sixth Stop: Buzzing Bees/Berry Bees: Partner Tag. There are a lot of bees buzzing everywhere! If you are connected to someone you are safe, but if you’re not, you better Run! Have everyone pair up. If there’s an odd number, you play too. Each partnership will link arms and face other partnerships in a circle.
Choose one person to be the Queen Bee, and their partner will have to Run! They have to run and link arms with another partnership. The person in the partnership who they did not link arms with then has to run until they link arms with a different partnership, then the person on the end of that partnership has to run. The Queen Bee chases until he/she can catch the person running. If caught the other person becomes the Queen Bee and the previous Queen Bee becomes the runner until they can link arms with another partnership.
If necessary give them guidelines like “you can’t link onto the partnership you came from.”
Step 12: End of Tour/Clean up. Bring them back to the picnic area, end the tour, tell them they can get out of character, and to clean up the area leaving NO trash or items behind. Bring them back inside and give them a few minutes to change and clean up.



Final Assessment for Lesson 9:

Entire picnic. See attached rubric.  Character Workshop Unit Assessment Rubric