Pantomime Summary

Pantomime Summary

Learning Description

Students will learn how to summarize a story using the “Somebody Wanted But So Then” strategy. Next, students will create a pantomime to express the key events from the summary. The pantomimes will be performed to summarize the fiction story through movement. Students will analyze how the pantomime contributed to the presentation of the story and character development.


Learning Targets


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"I Can" Statements

“I Can…”

  • I can use the “somebody wanted but so then” strategy to summarize a story.
  • I can retell a story through pantomime.

Essential Questions

  • How can we use pantomime to tell a story and enhance its presentation?
  • How can pantomime be used to summarize the key events in a fiction story?


Georgia Standards

Curriculum Standards

Grade 2:

ELACC2RL1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

ELACC2RL5 Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

Arts Standards

Grade 2:

TAES2.3 Acting by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.

TAES2.7 Integrating various art forms, other content areas, and life experiences to create theatre.


South Carolina Standards

Curriculum Standards

Grade 2:

RL.2.6.1 Use information gained from illustrations and words in a print or multimedia text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

RL.2.7.1 Retell the sequence of major events using key details; determine the theme in a text heard or read.

Arts Standards

Grade 1:

Anchor Standard 3: I can act in improvised scenes and written scripts.


Key Vocabulary

Content Vocabulary

Plot - The sequence of events that happen in a story.Summarize - To reduce something to its basic elements; to tell a story in its simplest, briefest form.Problem - A difficult situation that arises in a story.Solution - The way that a problem in a story is solved.

Arts Vocabulary

Pantomime - Pretending to hold, touch, or use something you are not really holding, touching, or using; in the theatrical tradition, acting without words.



“Somebody Wanted But So Then” Graphic Organizer (included below, or a similar document)


Instructional Design

Opening/Activating Strategy


  • Begin in silence, doing a simple pantomime activity, e.g., sweeping the floor, eating an apple, eating an ice cream cone, playing basketball, fishing, etc. Allow the students to guess the activity.
  • Debrief with the students – what made the activity clear? What were the parts of the activity? How did the hands, body position, facial expression, and other elements convey the activity?
  • Lead the students through the same pantomime, step by step. (Carefully define the steps: for example, 1. See the broom. 2. Put hands on the broom. 3. Lift the broom. 4. See the dirt on the ground, including a facial expression of mild disgust. 5. Sweep the dirt in rhythmic strokes toward a central spot. 6. Put the broom back. 7. Pick up a dust broom and dustpan. 8. Sweep the dirt into the dustpan. 9. Empty the dustpan into the garbage.)
  • Define pantomime.


Work Session


  • Teach students how to identify key events in the story using the “Somebody Wanted But So Then” strategy:
    Somebody - Who is the main character?
    Wanted - What does the main character want?
    But - What is the problem?
    So - How does the character solve the problem?
    Then - How does the story end?
    For example, with “Jack and the Beanstalk”:
    Somebody - Who is the main character? Jack
    Wanted - What does the main character want? He wants to help his mother get the money they need.
    But - What is the problem? Jack takes the giant’s goose, so the giant chases Jack.
    So - How does the character solve the problem? He escapes the giant.
    Then - How does the story end? Jack and his mother have all the golden eggs the goose lays.
  • Choose a sample story with which the students are familiar. Write a 5-point summary of the story in the graphic organizer
  • Create a pantomime sequence, with the help of the students, to summarize the story through movement.
  • Have groups of students practice performing the pantomime and explain how the movements are used to enhance the retelling.
  • Divide the students into groups of 3-5.
  • Assign another familiar story, or stories, to groups of students.
  • Students complete their own graphic organizer using pictures and words.
  • Student groups present their pantomime sequences to the class. Allow the class to guess the story or allow the groups to articulate each step of the pantomime summary.


Closing Reflection

Ask students:

  • How did we use our bodies, hands, and faces to convey parts of stories through pantomime?
  • How did you know what others were doing in their pantomimes?
  • How did the pantomime summaries contribute to the presentation of the story and character development?
  • What are the benefits and challenges of summarizing stories in this way? (e.g., It’s fun; you get to work with a team; you get to act things out; you have to leave parts out; some parts of stories are hard to pantomime.)




  • Students are able to describe the elements and steps in a pantomime in detail.
  • Students work together productively to create their pantomime summaries.



  • Graphic organizers, completed by the students, effectively summarize their stories.
  • Students effectively, clearly, and carefully pantomime the activities in their summaries.



Acceleration:Have students work first in groups, and then have them choose a favorite story to use individually to create a pantomime summary.

Encourage students to focus on emotional expression, so the pantomimes convey how the characters feel about what they are doing.

Remediation: Lead the class in several pantomime summaries as a full group, rather than having students work in small groups.

Limit the number of steps in a given pantomime activity.

Additional Resources - An 8-minute video tutorial about pantomime and using pantomime in the classroom. - A 10-minute video performance and tutorial focusing on classical mime techniques and routines.

*This integrated lesson provides differentiated ideas and activities for educators that are aligned to a sampling of standards. Standards referenced at the time of publishing may differ based on each state’s adoption of new standards.

Ideas contributed by: Whitney Jones Snuggs and updated by Barry Stewart Mann

Revised and copyright: March 2023 @ ArtsNOW