When you role play with your students, you let them apply content in a relevant, real-world context. You enable them to think beyond the confines of the traditional classroom setting. You provide them an opportunity to be Thomas Jefferson, or a detective, or a world-famous designer. Check out these awesome role playing resources that span across so many subjects and grades. Your kiddos will have fun, move around, and perhaps get in touch with a theatrical side they never knew they had!

Ideas for Elementary

Class Rules“Incorporate real-life learning, teach some local government concepts, and bring a little levity to the standards-packed day with ‘classroom ordinances.’ Are your students running in the classroom? Give them a speeding ticket. Are they talking to a classmate at another table? Issue a ticket for loitering. Littering? Hand out a ticket and have the class judge, jury, lawyer, and prosecutor ‘take the case to court.'” – KB3Teach

In the Hot SeatFrom Two Boys and a Dad Productions: “If you want students to really get into a character and ham it up at the same time, then have them sit in the hot seat! This resource allows a student to assume the persona of a well-known fairy tale character. Then other students get to ask the character questions, while the student portraying this character answers in character. Students just love to ham it up and talk in a character’s voice. It’s also great for learning how to improvise and really think how that character would respond to questions. Students can even dress up as their character! I really enjoy doing this activity with my students, because they really want to be this character — and so the analysis of the character’s thinking is more than just superficial. And they’re having fun while doing it!”

21 "WH" Question Crowns“My students with autism love to role play,” says Autism Educators. “It builds language skills and keeps them focused in a small group setting. Each WH Question Crown has a special hat with “WH” question visual prompts for the kids to refer to. I’m the one who chooses the crown, and the child wearing it has no idea which one it is. The other children will ask questions and give hints related to the profession, or who might wear that crown. At the end, they get to look in the mirror and see which crown they’re wearing. Crowns include everything from a safari to a firefighter to a pilot. There’s even a sombrero! This has been a Friday favorite in my classroom and was even used for my yearly observation.”

Social Skills Partner Role Play“I absolutely love using role play to teach and practice critical social skills. In my Social Skills Partner Role Plays, kids can have fun acting out greetings, following directions, using manners, asking for help, waiting their turn, and more. Best of all, role plays let kids be a little silly while getting up and moving around. There’s nothing better than moving and laughing while you learn. It’s such a fun activity in the beginning of the school year or even after vacations (we all need reminders). For each skill targeted, each set includes an explanation of the skill, a guided partner role play script, four partner role play task cards, and a reflection response sheet.” – Pathway 2 Success

Classroom Government Simulation“I have a fun government simulation for grades 3-5. With this resource, students turn their classroom into a mini-society. They learn about the three branches of government and the difference between federal, state, and local government and compare it to the different kinds of leadership in their school. They also learn about how a bill becomes a law by going through the steps themselves! To make it even more fun, students also create a name, symbol, and anthem for their classroom.” – Melissa Shutler – Evidence of Learning

Ms. Terra Cotta Tile CompanyFrom Evil Math Wizard: “I love role playing activities to make math real! Here’s one of my favorites: Students are tile designers and make prototypes and bids for different tile projects for Ms. Terra Cotta Tile Company. They present their designs and bids to ‘clients.’ It’s so much fun — and my students always thinks it’s real, as I give each student a customer profile.”

Ideas for Middle and High School

Marbury v Madison Reader's Theater“Finding new and exciting ways to make history come alive in my middle school classroom is a daily mission!” reports The Teacher’s Prep. “One of my favorite types of activities is mini historical plays, like the Marbury v. Madison Reader’s Theater. Students take on the roles of William Marbury, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and more as they re-enact a major landmark case. Taking on the roles of historical figures leaves a lasting impression in the minds of my students and truly makes history come alive!”

Who was Cleopatra?“I love getting students out of their seats and into a role,” enthuses History Gal. “It makes history come alive, gets students engaged, and, most importantly, it helps students retain and better understand the material being covered. In this activity, Who was Cleopatra?, students become detectives and investigate the events that led to the death of Cleopatra.”

Boston Massacre Study“My Boston Massacre Study and Project has students read about the Boston Massacre through nonfiction text articles. Then, they must pretend they’re the judge trying the British soldiers. They must give testimonies from the colonists, and the soldiers and then give a verdict. This is the ultimate assessment of understanding!” – Rigorous Resources by Lisa

Civil Rights MovementFrom Education with DocRunning: “This is a research activity in which students research and ‘become’ a figure from the Civil Rights Movement. With civil rights issues at the forefront of the news these days, it’s a valuable project to explore and take on the role of activists from different eras. The project culminates in a role play soiree in which the students interact as the person they researched. They love it.”

Social Skills for Teenagers“I have a Social Skills for Teenagers set that includes some role playing activities. Skills addressed include social-media etiquette and safety, dating, first jobs, grades, and more.” – Kathy Babineau

Dining Out Role Plays“My adult ESL students LOVE learning English that they will actually use ‘outside’ vs. the academic language they need to learn to prepare for future university classes. Students newly arrived to the country often lack ‘restaurant English,’ and who doesn’t like to go out to eat? These dining out role plays are scripted for the shyer students, but I’ve never had my more outgoing students NOT ad lib at the last moment!” – Rike Neville

The Giver Memory Transmission Activity“When I’m teaching a novel, I always try to include a role playing activity to allow the students to step into the shoes of the character. Doing this allows students to empathize with the character and understand his or her thoughts and actions. One of my favorite role play activities to do is with The Giver by Lois Lowry. The students play the role of the main character, Jonas, and the teacher plays the role of The Giver by transmitting new memories to the students! This activity is a free download in my store.” – Presto Plans

MacbethJulie Faulkner finds that theatrics do the trick: “I role play with each of my novel units through readers’ theater. I write revised, abridged scripts and we act out key scenes in class. I keep a prop box ready to go, and my juniors and seniors love it! My principal even stopped by one time to join in on the fun; he wore a costume, too! I love making literature come alive. Abridged scripts are included in my Macbeth and Crucible units.”