Beyond the review: Stage 2 Drama – playbuilding and digital storytelling using Tinga Tinga Tales

An image of Cathy Sly and Cath Keane An image of Cathy Sly and Cath Keane
Image: Cathy Sly is assistant editor and Cath Keane is the editor of Scan

The learning context

The following teaching and learning suggestions support Stage 2 outcomes from the English K-6 syllabus and the Creative Arts K-6 syllabus by exploring opportunities for using two resources that are reviewed in this issue of Scan. Claudia Lloyd’s picture book, ‘Why Elephant has a Trunk’, is a title in a series called Tinga Tinga Tales. These stories about Elephant, Lion, Hippo, Monkey, Tortoise, and Tickbird are based on African tales about native animals. Like all traditional stories, African folktales are grounded in the oral tradition. This series combines traditional African tales with the bright, colourful Tingating a artwork of Tanzania.

Tinga Tinga Tales Official site hosts a large selection of videos and the Tinga Tinga Tales app has interactive games.

One little picture book, ‘Why Elephant has a Trunk, offers a means to a range of available and exciting activities.Using this publication as a springboard to go beyond the book can lead to an even wider realm of learning,collaborating, creating and sharing in relation to storytelling. Students can engage with the e-book,view a video that extends the tale, and explore other titles in the series.

Responding to narrative

Different cultures have folktales that tell of events, traditions, and beliefs.

For centuries these traditional tales were passed on through word of mouth. Information and communication technology can span physical, cultural and historical distances enabling children to share narrative voices from other lands.

Digital storytelling is a combination of traditional storytelling techniques, sometimes combined with live performance techniques, and with the use of multi-media to provide sound and video to supplement the spoken word.

Steve Cisler, 2011

Digital technology provides an opportunity to merge the traditional art of storytelling with interactive technology and create cultural narratives that immerse the audience in a new cultural experience.

Patricia Search, nd

Using the Tinga Tinga Tales as a starting point, students can be encouraged to create their own stories and present them in the oral tradition and through dramatic performance. Students can be guided towards developing digital stories using pictures, voice and sounds, and can then share their stories with other children through the use of internet technology.

A suggested learning sequence for collaborative teaching

The suggested teaching ideas focus on oral storytelling to playbuilding to digital storytelling, and include:

  • connected KLA outcomes, skills knowledge and understandings
  • information literacy: programming ideas for Stage 2 Drama – playbuilding using Tinga Tinga Tales for the organising phase of ISP
  • guidelines for preparing and presenting a digital story
  • story mapping scaffold
  • storyboard template
  • links to digital tools to further explore and extend student learning.
An image of connecting drama and english outcomes. Oral storytelling to playbuilding to digital storytelling An image of connecting drama and english outcomes. Oral storytelling to playbuilding to digital storytelling
Image: Figure 1 Connecting drama and English outcomes

Use these drama forms to build on the context and elements in Figure 1:

  • playbuilding
  • storytelling
  • puppetry (optional)
  • mask (optional).

Students will be involved in:

  • devising, shaping and symbolically representing imaginative situations, ideas, feelings, attitudes and beliefs
  • creating roles and situations developed within dramatic contexts and expressed through dramatic forms (storytelling, puppetry, mask, video drama, playbuilding) using elements of drama (dramatic tension, contrast, symbol, time, space, focus and mood)
  • working collaboratively to make and devise the action of the drama
  • interpreting the meaning of their own drama and that of others.

Use these narrative forms to build on the context and elements in Figure 1:

  • spoken
  • written (books, e-books)
  • electronic (video, slideshows).

Students will be involved in:

  • reading, viewing and exploring literary texts and visual images produced in different media
  • responding to themes and issues in texts
  • recognising recurring character types and their traits
  • using scaffolds for planning
  • responding imaginatively to literature to create their own animal folktale
  • obtaining information from selected internet/computer sites and other computer graphics and texts
  • using digital authoring tools to create narratives
  • contributing to joint text-construction activities, including blog messages
  • sharing and assessing learning.

Enhancing opportunities for extending student learning

Provide opportunities that enable students to choose an extended learning experience, such as:

  • use imagination to build characterisations and create own tale
  • use props for dramatisation
  • experiment with sounds to depict animal of choice (predictive like ‘Peter and the Wolf’)
  • photograph group members experimenting with movement to depict animals and create a sequence using, for example, PhotoPeach, add music and a written story
  • locate Tanzania and Kenya on a world map (Google Maps)
  • investigate Tingatingaartworks and use these as a springboard for artmaking
  • create African masks and Tinga Tinga masks

to enhance dramatic performance

  • create backgrounds and scenes, and then add characters to structure performance and create stories using a digital tool such as NGA Kids Art Zone Jungle interactive
  • use keyword searches to find links to Tinga Tinga to collaborate in the creation of a webpage using a tool like Montage
  • create a SMART Notebook resource

Most of all, the students should develop new skills and understandings while engaging in enjoyable reading and activities that promote pride in their learning and presentations.

An image of story mapping template An image of story mapping template
Image: Figure 2 Story mapping scaffold
An image of storyboard template An image of storyboard template
Image: Figure 3 Storyboard template

Topic/Unit support: Stage 2 Drama – playbuilding using Tinga Tinga Tales

Drama Making: Tinga Tinga Tales are animal creation stories from different places in Africa. They describe how many how animals came to be the way they are today. Students will use imagination to create a magical world of animal transformation stories through drama.

Specific focus: In small groups, students use their knowledge of Tinga Tinga Tales’ themes and characters to create and perform their own story. They may choose to use storytelling, puppetry, masks and soundscapes in their performance.

Quality Teaching elements:

Higher-order thinking

  • Students manipulate information and ideas and engage in problem-solving to prepare for performance.


  • Students read, listen to, view, write and tell about and demonstrate their understanding to construct their own stories and performances related to the task.


Lloyd, C. 2010, Why Elephant has a Trunk, Tinga Tinga tales (series), London, Puffin

Meet the animals – characters

NGA Kids Art Zone Jungle interactive


Tinga Tinga tales app

Tinga Tinga Tales Official site

Tinga Tinga Tales_Why Elephant has a Trunk by Tinga Tinga Tales Official

Pre-unit assessment to gauge current level of understanding(in terms of unit/topic/focus) Pre-test, teacher judgment, brainstorm, discussion questions prior to unit study

Using the information skills framework to support learning: in Defining, Locating & Selecting phases students have

  • brainstormed the oral tradition of storytelling
  • read, listened to and viewed examples of traditional animal creation stories
  • explored the characters and environments
  • discussed their understanding of the reasons for such tales.

Evidence-based practice: As a pre-test, before any explicit teaching is done, students could write a brief response to the questions:

What is oral storytelling? What do you know about animal creation stories? How could you tell others about how jungle animals came to be the way they are today? Re-visit these questions at the end of the sequence of lessons. Compare the pre-test and assessment task work samples, including the performance and students’ reflections.

Syllabus outcomes Creative Arts K–6

DRAS2.1 Takes on and sustains roles in a variety of drama forms to express meaning in a wide range of imagined situations.

DRAS2.2 Builds the action of the drama by using the elements of drama, movement and voice skills.

  • consolidate interpretive and symbolic work in the drama form of puppetry or mask.

Related English K–6 outcomes:

RS2.7 Discusses how writers relate to their readers in different ways, how they create a variety of worlds through language and how they use language to achieve a wide range of purposes.

  • makes comparisons and identifies differences between text produced in different media

Related computer competencies focus:

Students will:

  • use keywords to search for and in Tinga Tinga sites
  • use digital tools to create digital sequences.

Related information skills focus area: organising and synthesising

Students will:

  • organise their ideas through group negotiation and story map scaffold
  • use exploration activities to structure their playbuilding
  • select and organise the drama to express and synthesise their views and convey the group’s ideas.

Suggested teaching and learning activities/strategies

Getting started

  • discuss the way students need to work
  • establish the dramatic contract – students agree to explore the make-believe and work together to create the drama
  • discuss the way the drama involves using voices and bodies to create characters and stories – recall reading, viewing, talking and listening experiences with Tinga Tinga stories, Meet the animals and Watch: Elephant
  • discuss how drama communicates the ideas of the group.

Exploring space, mood and symbolic movement


  • discuss how drama can bring stories alive by stepping inside books and taking on the roles of the characters for example Elephant, Monkey, Crocodile
  • experiment with movement and space to create the environments in Why the Elephant has a Trunk!


  • talks the students through the exploration, instructing them to become animals in the jungle and at the river (appropriate music can be used as a background)
  • encourages students to create their own soundscapes using voice, instruments and other objects to create mood and atmosphere.
  • asks questions to encourage student responses about the feelings and ideas evoked from the previous activity.

Playbuilding short scenes

Students, in small groups:

  • create a short scene that shows, for example, the tension felt by the animals when Crocodile snaps the end of Elephant’s stubby nose and pulls and pulls
  • improvise and then begin to structure their scenes to communicate their ideas (see Story map).


  • facilitates the group work, helping students structure their scenes and encouraging experimentation with elements of drama (see Figure 1).

Appreciating the drama

Students (in response to improvised playbuilding for a short scene):

  • discuss choices made by each group to communicate their ideas
  • think of ways they could have improved their performance.

Planning group performance

Students, in groups:

  • use knowledge of Tinga Tinga Tales’ themes, characters to create and perform their own tale
  • may choose to use storytelling, puppetry, masks, and soundscapes in their drama. During the Presentation phase, student performances can be videoed and used for reflection activities, assessment. The videos can be shared on a class blog or wiki. Photographs of the performance could be used to create a scripted slideshow, for example, using PhotoPeach.

Student assessment (after performance presentation)

Students watch the video and discuss:

  • Did we work well, both alone and in groups?
  • Did we develop an interesting play?
  • Were the characters convincing?
  • Did we use appropriate voice and movement?
  • Did we make good use of space?
  • What have we learned to do and learned about?
  • Can we improve our performance? How?
  • For example, post-test, guided evaluation sheet, skills achieved in context of outcomes (indicators) and planned assessment

Post unit assessment to determine progress towards stated outcomes

Assessment for learning – teacher will note students’ ability to reflect on their learning – see Student assessment. Determine which students need further assistance to reflect on their learning experiences over the whole drama process. Re-visit the questions posed in pre-unit assessment.

How to prepare and present a digital story

Steps for teaching and learning the process of composing a digital story:

1. Read some Tinga Tinga tales in book or e-book format. View the Tinga Tinga Tales videos for additional ideas.

2. Explain that students will compose their own story in the style of the Tinga Tinga Tales and that they will use ICT to present their tale as a digital story.

3. Use a brainstorming session to discuss the story the group would like to tell. Using an online brainstorming tool such as bubbl.uswould work well with an IWB. There are various group options for this stage:

  • the teacher devises a storyline for the class to work on as a whole group or divided into small groups
  • class operates as a whole group working on one storyline
  • class agrees on one storyline and then works in small groups so each group will have their own interpretation of the story
  • small groups devise their own storylines and presentations.


4. Use a Story map (Figure 2) to plan the story. Include the following:

  • a point of view. Who is telling the story?
  • a dramatic question. Create some tension so the audience wonders how it will be resolved during the story.
  • some emotional content to engage your audience with the characters.

5. Discuss ideas and write your story (as a group).

6. Edit your story (as a group).

7. Prepare for the digital version of your story.

To represent your characters and settings you will need (choose):

  • pictures
  • drawings
  • photographs
  • masks and a backdrop
  • puppets and a backdrop.

To tell the story you will need:

  • clear character voices
  • sound effects and music (optional).

8. Use a Storyboard (Figure 3) to plan your visuals, oral delivery, actions, and sounds.

9. Practise telling your story.


10. Use technology tools to create you digital story.

11. Share your digital stories on your class blog or wiki.

Links to websites and digital tools

Africa and Tanzania

Image map of Africa’, The Africa guide

Interactive map of Africa

African animals

‘Animals index’, Kidcyber: animals

Animal masks to print

‘Animal masks’, LearnEnglish kids,

‘Animal masks to print’, Activity

SparkleBox role-play masks

Digital storytelling tools



My Story Book Creator School Edition

My StoryMaker NGA Kids Art Zone Jungle interactive


Photo Story 3



Technology tips and cybersafety

Images and clip art

Zoo animal colouring


Puppet crafts for kids, Danielle’s place of crafts and activities


Musical instrument crafts for kids

Note: Remember to check the Terms of use and Privacy information for age eligibility statements as some of these e-resources require joint construction with a teacher and then enjoy these teaching and learning experiences.

References and further reading

Albini, A. 2010, ‘Engaging students with Kahootz 3’, Scan vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 11-14.

Cisler, S. 1999, ‘Preserving and stimulating oral tradition using the Internet’, paper presented at the 65th IFLA Council and General Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, 20-28


Digital storytelling, EducatorsWeb2-0, accessed 14 January 2018.

Lloyd, C. 2010, Why Elephant has a trunk, Tinga Tinga tales (series), London, Puffin. SCIS 1487146

Search, P. (ND), Digital storytelling for cross-cultural communication in global networking, accessed 14 January 2018.

Keywords: Year 3; Year 4; folktales; innovation; digital stories; digital authoring

How to cite this article: Sly, C. & Keane, C. 2011, ‘Beyond the review: Stage 2 Drama – playbuilding and digital storytelling using Tinga Tinga Tales’, Scan 30(2)

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