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About the Panchatantra:
The Panchatantra is one of the world’s oldest books and even today it remains one of the most popular works of literature. It originated in India and was initially written in the Indian languages of Sanskrit and Pali. It is a collection of stories with morals that aim to help people to succeed in life. It is believed to have been written around 300 B.C by Vishnu Sharma. The Panchatantra has been translated into fifty languages and there are over two hundred different versions available.
Background to the Panchatantra:
The legend behind the Panchatantra is there once lived a king who had three sons. The sons were not very bright. The king was worried that they might not rule his kingdom justly and fairly when he died. The king asked a Brahmin called Vishnu Sharma to help his sons become more knowledgeable. Sharma decided to pass on his wisdom by the use of stories. In these stories, all animals take on human qualities. Pancha means “five” and tantra means “ways” or “principles.”
The five books or principles are:
Book 1: The separation of friends. (The Bull and the Lion.)
Book 2: The gaining of friends. (The Four Friends and the Hunter)
Book 3: Conflict and solutions. (The Owl and Crow)
Book 4: Loss of gains. (The Monkey and the Crocodile.)
Book 5: Ill-considered actions. (The Sage and the Mouse.)
Write Your Own Panchatantra Tale
To help you write your own tale, the following is a list of the most common characters found in the Panchatantra:
The Four Friends and the Hunter
Characters: Three storytellers, mouse, crow, deer, turtle, two hunters.
Storyteller 1: Long, long, ago there lived three friends in the jungle.
Storyteller 2: There was a deer, a crow, and a mouse.
(Deer, crow and mouse are all jumping and playing with each other.)
Storyteller 2: They always played together and looked out for one another. One day, a turtle came along.
(Turtle plods slowly towards the three friends.
Turtle: Hello, everyone. May I play with you and be your friend?
Deer: Of course.
Crow: You are most welcome.
Mouse: Come and play with us now.
Storyteller 1: Then, suddenly, the mouse stopped and sniffed and he said…
Mouse: I smell some hunters.
Deer: What will we do?
Crow: Quick, let’s get out of here.
(Enter two hunters looking for prey.)
Storyteller 2: The deer darted through the jungle.
Storyteller 3: The crow flew high up into the sky.
Storyteller 2: And the mouse scarpered into a hole, but the turtle moved very slowly indeed.
Hunter 1: Oh no! We just missed that juicy deer.
Hunter 2: Never mind (points to turtle); we can catch that turtle and we will have delicious turtle stew for dinner.
(The hunters capture the turtle. They put a net over him and start to pull.)
Storyteller 3: The turtle’s three friends were very worried.
Mouse: They have caught the turtle!
Crow: How will we save him?
Deer: Listen, I have an idea. (They huddle up together and whisper to each other.)
Storyteller 1: The crow flew up into the sky and spotted the two hunters carrying the turtle near the river.
Crow: (shouts down and points) There they are.
Storyteller 2: The deer darted through the jungle and when she came to the path, she lay down as if she were dead.
Hunter 1: Do you see what I see?
Hunter 2: Yes, it is a dead deer.
Hunter: We really will eat like kings tonight.
Hunter 2: And we can sell its beautiful skin to the highest bidder.
Storyteller 3: In their excitement, they put down the turtle.
Storyteller 1: This was exactly what the deer had planned.
(Mouse sneaks out very quietly and starts to gnaw at the rope)
Turtle: I’m free! Thank you mouse. You are a true friend.
Mouse: Come with me.
(Turtle moves slowly and then disappears into the river and the mouse runs into the jungle.)
Storyteller 1: Just as the hunters were going to lean down and take the deer, she got up and darted off into the jungle.
Hunter 1: She wasn’t dead at all.
Hunter 2: Never mind, we still have the turtle.
Storyteller 2: They turned around and saw that the trap was empty and the turtle was gone.
Hunter 1: The trap is empty.
Hunter 2: (sighs) Looks like we will go hungry again tonight.
Storytellers: The moral of this story is this: A friend in need is a friend indeed.
if you would like to read more plays based on the Panchatantra then go to
Adventure in Space
Resources needed: Clear space, balloons, flags, and objects for the moon (optional).
Introduction: Tell the children that they are going to become astronauts. Explain what an astronaut is or show them pictures of an astronaut in space. An astronaut is a person who is trained to travel in space. Discuss some interesting facts about astronauts with the children.
Ten interesting facts about astronauts:
• Yuri Gagarin was the first man to travel in space in 1961. He was Russian. His space shuttle was called “Vostok 1.”
• John Glenn was the first American to travel in space in 1962. His space shuttle was called “Friendship 7.”
• Laika, a stray dog trained by the Russians, was the first living thing to go into space. Unfortunately he died a few hours after launch. Ham, the chimp, was the first animal taken into space by an American astronaut. He arrived safely back to earth after 16 hours in space.
• In space you float because there is no gravity. The inner ear doesn’t need to keep you balanced. When astronauts come back from space they are very clumsy.
• In space, there is no gravity to weigh you down so your spine stretches and relaxes, and the astronaut can grow up to 5cm. or 2 inches.
• In space the sun rises every 90 minutes.
• Astronauts in space can see other planets without a telescope.
• In space it is not possible to breathe air normally. The space suits have oxygen attached to them to help astronauts breathe when they are outside the space shuttle.
• The longest time an astronaut has spent in space is 2 years and 73 days.
• Astronauts have to sleep in buckled bunk beds. If they are not strapped to the bed they will float when they are asleep, as there isn’t any gravity.
The teacher discusses with the children that they are going to go on a special mission to space. Ask for suggestions for the name of their space shuttle. Ask them how they will move in space as there is no gravity. They must move in slow motion with their space suits. Get the children to practice moving around the room very slowly. Get them to jump up and down in slow motion. Once they are used to the slow movements, the story can begin. The teacher will be the pilot.
Pilot: Astronauts, this is space shuttle (name of the space shuttle). My name is (pilot’s name). I am your pilot for this important top-secret space mission. (All the astronauts walk on to the shuttle and take their positions on the floor.) Welcome on board the (name of the space shuttle). Our flight time will be (time) and we will be flying at an altitude of (altitude), at a speed of (speed). At this time all electronic devices must be switched off or set to space shuttle mode. (All the astronauts take out their devices and mime switching them off.) Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt. (The astronauts lie on the floor with their feet in the air.) Astronauts, please prepare for blast off. Everybody count down 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLAST OFF. (Everybody count from 10 to 1 and creates a loud explosive sound.) Keep your seat belts on as there is a lot of turbulence. (Astronauts are shaking from side to side while fastening their seats.) We have reached a height of (height). The seat belt sign has been switched off. (The astronauts take off their seat belts, and because there is no gravity they start moving in slow motion and imagine that they are floating. They go forwards and backwards, up and down, side to side as they look out of the windows.) Astronauts, due to a technical problem with the space shuttle we have to make an emergency landing on the moon. Everyone, please take your seats as quickly as possible. (The astronauts sit back in their seats and put their seat belts on.) Everyone hold on tight. (They make an emergency stop and they all go forward and backward.) We are going to be stuck on the moon until we manage to fix the technical problem with the space shuttle. If you would like, you can put on your space suit and go for a walk on the moon. (The astronauts put on their space suits.) Remember to use your oxygen masks. (Everyone puts on their oxygen mask.) You have to move slowly on the moon because you don’t want your space suits to burst open. (They all get off the rocket carefully.) Everyone take your time going down the space shuttle steps. Hold on tight. Now that we are on the moon we should put our country’s flag on the moon. We should all take something from the moon as a souvenir. (Astronauts move around the room carefully and slowly and they mime picking up something and putting it in their space suit pocket.) Oh, look, it is a meteorite. (Teacher throws a balloon in the air which represents a meteorite.) Astronauts, we must make sure that the meteorite doesn’t hit the moon as it will cause a crater. (The astronauts try to keep the balloon from hitting the floor. They work together. The teacher can keep adding meteorites or balloons until they start to drop on the floor and cause craters.) It has turned into a meteorite shower and it is getting worse, and we have to run to the rocket to take cover. (They run as fast as they can in the space suits. Remember they can burst them if they run too fast. They all climb the stairs and get back into the rocket.) Welcome abroad. Please take your seats and fasten your seatbelts. (They lie on the backs with the feet up.) Count down begins 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, lift off. (They count down and make the sound of the engine taking off. They slowly begin to sit up as the rocket levels off and is floating through space.) The seatbelt sign has been switched off. Everyone look out the window. Remember what you see so you can tell everybody on Earth. (The children take off their seatbelts and look out the window.) Astronauts, it is time to return to Earth. Everyone fasten your seatbelts. I hope you enjoyed this space flight and will join us again in the future. (They land safely and everyone alights from the space shuttle.)
Closure: The children sit in a circle. One by one they take out their souvenir from the moon and explain what it is, what it looks like, or what it feels like? Each child says what they saw or experienced in space.
This story is from the book “Movement Start: Over 100 Activities and Stories for Children”.
‘Panchatantra on Stage’ consists of eighteen plays that are based on the old Indian book the Panchatantra. Each play is between five and ten minutes long. The plays can be used for performance, readers’ theatre or to promote reading in groups. The plays are simple so it is very easy for young children to memorise their lines. The cast list is flexible – more characters can be added and existing characters can be changed or omitted depending on the size and requirements of the group. Most of the characters can be on stage throughout the play, with children walking to the centre of the stage when it is time to say their lines. The teacher/leader can assume the role of the storyteller/s if the children can’t read or are not at the reading level required.
The following is a play adapted from Roald Dahl’s classic “The Twits.”
Characters: Mr Twit, Mrs Twit, three narrators, four little boys, Roly Poly Bird, monkeys and birds – you can have as many monkeys and birds as you want.
Narrator 1: Mr and Mrs Twit were truly awful people. They were awful in every way. They were awful on the inside and awful on the outside. They never realised that if you are ugly on the inside, you’ll be ugly on the outside too.
Narrator 2: Everybody knows that if you’re beautiful on the inside, you’ll be beautiful on the outside, even if your feet are too big and your ears are too small and you have a wonky nose. When you think beautiful thoughts they shine out of your face like sunbeams. Mr and Mrs Twit never, ever thought beautiful thoughts, so you can imagine how awful they were to look at.
Narrator 3: They hated everything and everyone, and even hated each other. They only thing they loved doing was playing nasty tricks, and they were always trying to see which one of them could be the nastiest.
Mrs Twit: Hmmmmm, what kind of trick can I play on Mr. Twit today? I know! I’ll put some worms in his spaghetti. He’ll never know because I’ll put lots of sauce and cheese on it.
Mr Twit: Where is my dinner?
Mrs Twit: Here it is, dear.
Mr Twit: Hey, my spaghetti is moving!
Mrs Twit: It’s a new kind called squiggly spaghetti. I think it’s delicious.
Narrator 1: Of course, there were no worms in Mrs Twit spaghetti.
Mr Twit: I don’t like it. It is too squishy and bitter.
Mrs Twit: Stop complaining and finish your dinner. I didn’t slave over a hot stove for nothing.
Mr Twit: Okay, okay. (Continues to eat, making faces the whole time, then finishes and wipes his mouth on his sleeve.)
Mrs Twit: Do you want to know why your spaghetti was squishy and bitter?
Mr Twit: Why?
Mrs Twit: Because their were worms in it! Ha, ha, ha!
Mr Twit: (running away with his hand in his mouth) I’ll pay you back for this!
Narrator 2: That very night ……
Mr Twit: Hmmmm, what can I do to get Mrs Twit back for putting worms in my spaghetti? I know since she hates frogs so much, I’ll catch one and put it in her bed before she goes to sleep!
(Mr and Mrs Twit go to bed)
Background noise: Ribbit, Ribbit!
Mr Twit: Good night. (Giggles to himself.)
Mrs Twit: Hey, there’s something in my bed.
Mr Twit: What? Something squishy and slimy.
Mrs Twit: Yes, how did you know?
Mr Twit: Oh, I was wondering…
Mrs Twit: Wondering what?
Mr Twit: If It could be a ….
Mrs Twit: A what?
Mr Twit: A frog!
Mrs Twit: Ewww!
Mr. Twit: What’s wrong?
Mrs Twit: There is one in my bed. (Kicks and kicks and kicks and kicks.)
Mr. Twit: Are you okay?
Mrs Twit: Ohhhh …(faints)
Mr. Twit: Hee, hee, hee!
Narrator 3: If you think that’s bad, see how they are to their people.
First little boy: Hey, let’s climb that tree!
Second little boy: But it’s in Mr and Mrs Twit’s yard.
Third little boy: Never mind, we can be quick.
Fourth little boy: Okay, let’s go.
Narrator 1: What the boys didn’t know was Mr. Twit had spread sticky stuff on the branches of the tree, so that he and Mrs Twit could have tasty things for supper, like bugs and birds and small children. As they climb the tree, the first little boy notice something was wrong.
First little boy: Hey, we are stuck.
Second little boy: What do you mean?
Third little boy: Try to get up?
Fourth little boy: Ahh! I can’t.
First little boy: Take your pants off!
Other little boys: Huh?
Narrator 2: The first little boy who was the smartest, knew that it was just their pants that stuck to the tree, and if they took them off, they would be able to get away.
First Little boy: We’re free, we’re free!
Other little boys: We’re free! We’re free.
Narrator 3: All this time, Mr and Mrs Twit had kept some monkey in a cage not far from the tree. They had been caught in the same way that the Twits had try to catch the little boys. When the birds would come and try to roost on the Twits’s tree the monkeys would shout:
Monkeys: There is sticky stuff all over the tree.
If you land on the branches, you will never be free.
So fly away! Fly away! Stay up high!
Or you’ll finish up tomorrow in a hot bird pie.
Narrator 1: The Roly Poly Bird, who watches over all birds, animals and insects decided that enough is enough and that he’d better get involved.
Roly Poly Bird: What is going on here?
Little boys, monkeys and birds: The Twits are awful, they won’t leave us alone.
Roly Poly Bird: Well, let’s see what we can do. Since the Twits have turned your life upside down, maybe we can return the favour and show them what it is like.
Narrator 2: So, all the monkeys, the birds and the little boys set to turn the Twits house upside down. One day, when the Twits were out, they glued all the furniture in the house to the ceiling! Imagine the Twit’s surprise when they came back that day.
Mr Twit: (opening the door) Whoa!
Mrs Twit: What?
Mr Twit: Everything’s upside down!
Mrs Twit: I know! We’ll stand on heads and everything will be right side up.
Mr. Twit: Good idea!
Narrator 3: Just then, one of the birds that had helped to the glue the Twit’s furniture flew in and dripped some glue on the Twits’ heads, but they were far too excited to notice. This was the last and most important part of the Roly Poly Bird’s plan.
Mrs Twit: Ready?
Mr. Twit: Okay!
(The Twits stand on their heads.)
Twits: Oh no! We’re stuck!
Narrator 1: The Twits were indeed stuck. They stayed stuck, no matter how hard they tried to get away and eventually they shrank and shrank until there was nothing left of them but two stinky piles of old clothes.
If you enjoyed this play and would like to see more children’s plays please click on my Amazon page.
Classics on Stage FREE on Amazon Today!
Classics on Stage is a collection of ten plays adapted from popular and cherished works of children’s literature. This is a unique collection of scripts that will entertain and educate readers. The plays are written with a sense of fun, which will engage and delight children of all ages. The plays in the collection are:
The Wizard of Oz
Alice in Wonderland
How the Leopard Got His Spots
How the Elephant Got His Trunk
The Happy Prince
The Selfish Giant
The Canterville Ghost
Around the World in Eighty Days
The book is available on Amazon as an ebook. Click below:
It is also available in paperback.
The following is a guest post by Samantha Marsden author of ‘How to make a living as a freelance drama teacher.’
I taught drama to 3 – 7 year olds for nine years. During this time I had hundreds of parents tell me how drama had improved their child’s confidence. Here are some tips on how to help students gain more confidence in your drama class.
Performing: Plan your lesson so that students get a chance to perform in front of their classmates. The more they practice performing, the easier it will become for them. Even if a student gets up for only three seconds and shows the class their impression of a cat, this counts as a performance.
Praise: Even when a student mumbles a few inaudible lines, find something to praise them for. Chances are it took a lot of guts for them to get up and do that in front of the class. Try and make the praise specific. It’s ok to include constructive criticism as long as it’s said in a gentle and kind tone. For example, ‘Lily I really liked the way you smiled during your poem but do you think you could make the words a little louder?’
Applaud: Whenever someone performs in front of the class encourage everyone to clap afterwards. Make sure you clap as well and if it was really good throw in a few whoops and cheers!
Comparisons: Always compare a student to themselves not to others. Progress should be measured by how far a student has come, not by what they are like compared to other students.
Respect: Respect your students’ ideas and never belittle an idea even if it is a little crazy! If a child is speaking or performing give them your full attention and make sure the class does too.
No nastiness: Make it a very strict rule that no one is to say anything nasty about anyone during the drama class.
Don’t put a child on the spot: Please don’t ever randomly pick a child and ask them to answer your question or perform. Children hate looking stupid in front of their peers and if they don’t know the answer to your question they will quickly lose confidence and won’t volunteer themselves to do anything in your class in the future.
Simplicity: Keep the lesson content simple. If you make the lesson too complex, which is easily done with this age group, students will lose confidence as they will feel out of their depth.
Make mistakes: Kid’s love it when you make mistakes. If you get the words of a song wrong,laugh at yourself and say, ‘Silly me.’ Don’t try to hide your mistakes. They’ll love it if you muck up and it will make them feel better about themselves. I’ve been to known to fake a few mistakes so that students feel more at ease.
No forcing: Never force a child to perform or to do anything in your class. They will join in and perform when they are ready, not when you are ready. By forcing them you may ruin their confidence and then they may never perform as they have a terrible memory of the time they were forced to do it. If you don’t force anyone and only positively encourage students I can guarantee you that every student will be volunteering to perform by week 5 or 6.
Thumbs up: If a child is particularly terrified whilst performing stick your thumbs up at them as they perform and encourage other members of the class to do so as well.. You’ll often see a smile spread across the terrified child’s face when you show them support.
Friend: Buddy children up and help them to make friends with each other. They’ll have a lot more confidence if they know they have a friend routing for them.
Stickers: Give out stickers and be specific about why you’re giving them. The children will be more proud of their achievement if they know exactly what the sticker is for, for example: ‘Well done Caleb I really liked your lion face in that song.’
Certificates: Give out certificates. Each week have a ‘performer of the week,’ or two, or even three depending on the size of your class. Keep a list of who gets the certificate each week and make sure everyone gets it at least once during the term.
Student praise: After a performance, ask the class what they liked about it. Try and get about three positive comments from the class per performance – any more and you won’t have enough time. You’ll be amazed at what lovely things they have to say about each other.
Written by Sam Marsden, author of ‘How to make a living as a freelance drama teacher.’
Whether you’re an experienced drama teacher or straight out of college, my new book Teach Drama: How to Make a Living as a Freelance Drama Teacher will help you get work as freelance drama teacher.