Creating Vocal Variety in Puppetry Unit, Lesson 1

Lesson 1


TH:Cr3.1.7b. Develop effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work.
Standard 7–8.T.P.5:Communicate meaning using the voice through volume, pitch, tone, rate, and clarity.


Enduring Understanding:

I can use my voice to tell an interesting story.
Projection and diction are essential to helping audiences to understand the story.


Essential Question:

How do I project correctly in order to protect my voice? What does good diction look and sound like?


Educational Objective:

Students will demonstrate their understanding of projection and diction by performing a tongue twister for the rest of the class which will be seated at the back of the auditorium.



Chromebooks for pre-assessment
Printed copies of modified pre-assessment quiz

Projector and Sound system turned on
Printed Tongue Twisters
Students need a pencil and piece of paper.


Introduction (10 minutes)

●  Announce the at home preview assignment and the character worksheets for those that were absent.

●  Have students finish their pantomime performances from last class.


Hook (15 minutes)

●  Open up Canvas and take a short quiz.

●  The questions in this quiz are about using your voice, which is our next unit. I know that

you might not already know what these words mean, so just give me your best guess. This quiz is NOT graded, I just want to understand what you might already know about voice within the context of theatre.

●  You can have as much time as you need.


Teaching Presentation and Guided Practice (15 minutes)

●  We just finished our movement unit and we created short pantomime stories, where we focused on telling stories with our bodies. What other elements of theatre help us to tell stories?

○  Voice (Segway)

○  Lights

○  Sound

○  Costumes

○  Dance


●  We can use our voice to tell stories in a compelling way just like our bodies.

○  When do you tell stories either formally or informally? (Answers might include: to family and friends, etc.). We use our voices to tell all the interesting things that happened to us or to someone else.

○  Watch this clip

  • eOnline

  • I will post the link on Canvas, so you can keep watching it there if you would like!

  • ○  Questions about storytelling with voice.

    • What was the story?

    • What was your favorite part, why?

    • What did you like about how they used their voice?

    • What did they do with their voice to help tell the story

    • ●  Transition:

○ Have you noticed yourself doing this same thing when you talk with family and friends? Or have you noticed someone else doing this when they tell a story?

■ It is essential for us to understand those who are telling the stories, otherwise, it’s harder to appreciate the characters and story that they are creating. Projection and diction help us to be understood by the audience.


● Projection

○  Have students lay down on the stage, hand on belly, watch your breath.

○  Instruction: Projection is using our breath to power our voices so that it will carry throughout the space. When you breath in, breath through your diaphragm (your belly) instead of through your shoulders. When you exhale, notice your diaphragm moving. We don’t yell because we want to take care of our voices.

  • Have students practice breathing with their diaphragm. Then, have them exhale and yawn saying “Ahhhh” from high to low. Make sure that they are powering this with their breath not with their throat.

  • Have students imagine being able to see their breath. Have them yawn again and this time have them try to get their breath all the way to the ceiling. This visualization should help them “be louder” but by using their breath instead of their vocal chords.

  • Do “ahh’s” until the students grasp the concept.

○ Get into partnerships and practice saying “My favorite animal is ____” as you project. Start 5, then 10, then 15 feet away from each other, can you hear each other? Project by using your breath.


● Transition:
○ Grab a pencil and scratch piece of paper on your way back to the stage.


● Give the students a pop quiz but use bad diction. As you give the questions, mumble, talk to fast, etc. Tell students that you can’t repeat any questions.

What is the name of the school?

What is our school mascot?

What time does this period end?

What is your favorite class this semester?

What class do you have next?


○  “Put your pencils down on the ground next to you. This won’t actually count towards your grade. I was exhibiting bad diction. Turn to your neighbor and talk about what you can do to have good diction.”

○  Ask the class to come up with an answer to the question, “What does good diction look like?”

● We are now going to do some diction exercises to help us enunciate.

○  A,B,Cs with good diction.

○  The tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips…


Independent Practice (30 minutes)

●  Tongue twister performance (7 minutes rehearse, 20 minutes perform and discuss).

○  Get into partners.

○  Number partnerships 1-7. Based on their number, that is the tongue twister copy they pick up.

○  Practice doing your tongue twister with projection and diction. You will be saying it for the class, who will be sitting towards the back of the auditorium.

○  Perform them for the class. All the partnerships that had tongue twister #1 will get on stage together and perform their tongue twisters one after the other. Then all the partnerships with the #2 tongue twisters will come up and perform theirs.

●  Transition: On their way to find a space in the classroom to rehearse, ask them to put their pencil away and throw their paper away.

●  If time, we can make it a competition.

○ Those that want to enter can. The partnership that can do it the fastest, clearest,

and still projecting wins!


Closure (as they perform)

●  Remind students to project and to enunciate their words.

●  After each partnership’s performance, ask the audience students,

○ Can you hear and understand them?

● If students were not heard, have them put their hand on their belly and take deep breaths

while they perform it a second time for the class.