Learning Description

Students explore the drama strategies of Statues and Tableau, and then bring positional words to life through the use of partnered tableaux.


Learning Targets

GRADE BAND: Kindergarten

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"I Can" Statements

“I Can…”

  • I can use my body to create simple tableaux showing positional relationships.

Essential Questions

  • How can utilizing theatre help students explore language arts concepts?


Georgia Standards

Curriculum Standards


ELACCKRF2  Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). 

ELACCKL4  Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content. 

Arts Standards


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


South Carolina Standards

Curriculum Standards


K.WL.4.6 With guidance and support, use prepositional phrases.

Arts Standards

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


Key Vocabulary

Content Vocabulary

Aboveor Over - On top of or higher than something else.

Below or Under - Beneath or lower than something else. 

Inside - The interior part of something, the place or part within. 

Outside - The exterior part of something, the place or part not within.

Beside - Next to something. 

Position - The location of somebody or something in relation to other things.

Positional words - Words that indicate the position of somebody or something.

In Front of - Coming first in a sequence, or located closer to the viewer or another external point.

Behind - Coming later in a sequence, or located farther from the viewer or another external point.

On - Connected to or located atop.Off - Not connected to.

Arts Vocabulary

Statue (Statues) - An actor frozen in a pose.

Tableau (Tableaux) - A group of actors frozen to create a picture.



  • Drum (optional for Expressive Statues)
  • Positional words on cards, or real or virtual whiteboard


Instructional Design

Opening/Activating Strategy

Expressive Statues

  • Explain that when the teacher says, “Start!”, claps hands once, or hits the drum, the students will freeze in a pose.  This is called a ‘statue.’  Add that when the teacher says, “Stop!”, claps or hits the drum twice, they must freeze.  Model several statues for the students, showing varied use of the body and facial expression.  
  • Give the first prompt:  “Show me with your body a statue of how you look when you feel happy. 1…2… 3… Start!”  Use observational language to point out students’ creative choices, e.g., “I see Chase has his hands open and up in the air; Marisol has a big smile and her eyes are closed,” etc.
  • Remind students that a statue should be expressive, showing action or excitement or emotion.  An effective statue involves the entire body, face, and eyes as well. 
  • Give additional emotion prompts: happy, sad, mad, bored, embarrassed, scared, tired, confused, etc. 
  • Give prompts that convey opposites: tall/short, wide/thin, heavy/light (i.e., lightweight), prickly/smooth, etc.


Work Session


  • Introduce tableau:  a frozen picture made by two or more actors.  It is like a statue, but a statue is one person, and a tableau has more than one.  In a tableau, the actors are working together to create a single picture.  (If the actors are frozen but not forming a picture together, it is not a tableau, but rather simply a group of statues.)
  • Invite several volunteers up and guide them to create an animal tableau, e.g., birds perched on the branch of a tree (in varied poses), several puppies playing, or horses in a field.  Remind them that, like a statue, a tableau is still.  Encourage them to find poses that suggest movement.
  • Have students work in trios.  Give them prompts for animal tableaux.  Use the examples above, or some of your own, or things like “dolphins leaping out of the sea,” “chickens pecking in a pen,” or “giraffes and zebras in the savanna.”  Describe the students’ tableaux using position words, e.g., “the dolphin is leaping above the waves” or “the zebra is under the giraffes’ heads.”  Model describing the tableau with opposing positional words, e.g., “giraffes’ heads are over the zebra.”

Positional Word Tableaux 

  • Introduce the positional words in the list below – show word cards or write them on a real or virtual whiteboard.  Review them to ensure that the students know what they mean.
  • Still in pairs, have the students work together to make tableaux that show positional relationships.  The tableaux can involve animals and also inanimate objects, e.g., a dog under a table, or a cheetah on a branch.  (Possibly, tell them they can make the tableaux about anything, so long as they convey the named positional relationships.)  With paired positional words, have them state the relationship in the tableau using both terms.  
    • Above / Below 
    • Beside 
    • In Front of / Behind
    • On / Off
    • Inside / Outside
    • Over / Under 
  • Possibly, have each pair come to the front and show one of their favorite tableaux.


Closing Reflection

  • Ask students to recall what statues and tableaux are.
  • Ask students to describe how they used their bodies to create their tableaux.




  • Students should accurately represent assigned or chosen positional words with their bodies. 
  • Students should effectively articulate the relationships in their tableaux



Have students draw a picture of one of the tableaux they created with their partner.  Have them write or, as appropriate, dictate the sentence or sentences that describe the positional relationship in the tableau drawing.




  • Expand the list of positional words, to include synonyms and variations, such as ‘beneath,’ ‘within,’ ‘through,’ etc.
  • Have students create a sequence of three tableaux that tell a simple story.  E.g., Horse standing beside a fence, horse jumping over the creek, horse walking inside the barn.


  • Provide more modeling of paired tableaux, i.e., with several pairs.
  • Lead the class in doing the same tableau ideas, honoring the different choices that pairs make in executing the tableaux.

*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 Mary Gagliardi.  Updated by Barry Stewart Mann.

 Revised and copyright:  August 2022 @ ArtsNOW