What better way to welcome students to the theater department than to allow them to make a grand entrance through a decorated door? Many teachers enjoy decorating the doors for holiday pageants, spirit week celebrations, or just to make the classroom look more welcoming. It’s also fun for students. So why not get them involved in decorating your drama classroom door?
The following individual exercise is like a mini decor design challenge. Students will create a door design and complete an accompanying worksheet discussing their inspiration for the design as well as other manufacturing questions. You can then use the door patterns to decorate your classroom and even use a student’s design to decorate the door. It’s a great end-of-semester exercise when you just can’t think, and it can be as low-tech or high-tech as you want.
- Door template (or a blank piece of paper)
- Crayons and colored pencils
- Optional: collage supplies such as fabric scraps, magazine tear-outs, ribbons, pipe cleaners, colored napkins, and wrapping paper
- If you want to make this a high-tech project, you can use computer design software such as AutoCAD if available at your school.
1. Give each student a door template (a blank sheet of paper will do). If possible, match the door template to your classroom door, noting the style and direction of the handle, as well as any nearby windows and signage. Notice if it is a push door or pull from the hallway. It can also be helpful to include any important features nearby, such as a display window or electrical outlet.
Note: If you plan to decorate your door, we recommend checking with administrative and/or custodial staff ahead of time to ensure there are no safety hazards (eg tripping hazards or flammable materials).
2. Students will design their doors. If you want, have them create a list of topics for decorating the doors. Then ask students to color their drawings. They can use collage materials if they want/available.
Door designs should be creative and reflect what you do and learn in drama class. They can be entertaining, educational, thought-provoking, inspirational, attention-grabbing, or use interesting materials or techniques. Students could create something seasonal or related to the play you are currently studying in class, or the theme for an upcoming production, or that demonstrates a recently learned stage painting technique. The options are only limited by your students’ imaginations.
3. Students will complete the accompanying worksheet, answering the following questions:
- What is the title of your design? (“A Winter Wonderland”, “Ode to Romeo and Juliet”, “Lost in Rundoon”, etc.)
- What inspired the design?
- What materials would we need to create the actual design on the door?
- What is the estimated budget for materials? Where/how will we purchase the materials? (For example, will the student use the items they bring from home or will they take out of the recycling bin or will they have to buy them?)
- If you’re going to have a voting portion: Why should your peers vote for your design to be the winner?
4. Post each door project and accompanying worksheet in the classroom.
5. Fold or cover each student’s name on their papers so they are not tempted to vote for their friends.
6. Students will vote for the top two door designs. You can either do a secret ballot or simply ask students to raise their hands. If you want to add an additional writing component, have students complete an exit sheet explaining why they voted for the design they did.
7. You will create the design with the most votes. Be sure to credit the student designer on the door! You may want to offer extra credit or volunteer hours to students who do the work of bringing the design to life.
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.
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