Lesson Plan: Gibberish!

Last updated: January 24, 2013

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Dog and cat looking at each other. Both are surprised and confused.

Lesson Plan Gibberish!

Technology Level: Classroom based.

Audience: 9-12

Duration: 45-60 minutes


Students will explore different modes of communication including verbal, non-verbal and gibberish. They will practice interpreting messages that are being communicated through a series of drama activities. The students will be encouraged to draw comparisons between these activities and the way animals make efforts to communicate with humans.


  1. Butchers paper and pens


  1. Lesson Plan
  2. Teacher narration # 1
  3. Outline of each community – the land of Gibber and the land of Ish
  4. Teacher narration # 2


Lesson Procedure
Topic Notes
1.Introduction (5 mins)  
1.1(5 mins)

1.1 Teacher introduces lesson and explains that through a variety of drama activities the students are going to explore different ways of communicating. Ask students to keep in mind how they communicate with others including pets/animals.

2. Body(45 mins)


2.1 Discussion and brainstorming (small group work)(5 mins)

2.1 In small groups the students will discuss and document all the different elements that help us communicate with others.

Share their findings with the group.

2.2 Hypothetical Question5 mins)

2.2 Teacher puts forward the following questions:

  • "What would happen if we couldn’t communicate through talk?"
  • "How would we get our message across?"
  • Discuss at length – create a class list of all the suggestions.
2.3 Moving into the drama(3 mins)

2.3 Using their new understanding and knowledge of communication methods/modes the teacher will explain that the class going to participate in a whole class role play. The students will be split into 2 groups:

  • Group 1. The townspeople of Ish
  • Group 2. The Gibber Clan or tribe.
2.4 Teacher Narration(3 mins)

2.4 Organise the class so that each group is clearly separated in the room.

Ask the students to sit in two circles (either on chairs or on the floor) and close their eyes.

Teacher Narration #1 (Resource 2) Teacher will narrate the script as written – outlining the two groups’ identities and the description of their lands.

2.5 Enroling each group (3 mins)

2.5 Hand out the information (Resource 3) to each group which contains the following:

  • a description of their group
  • the language and gestures they are restricted to.
  • The issue that their group is facing.
2.6 Group Language formulation(10 mins)Optional – if time allows – otherwise image the environment.

2.6 Each group will share information and work together to formulate devise their own language; based around the information they have been given. Eg. Gesture and or word that means hello, please, help etc.

The students can also set up their area – using the class furniture and other items in the classroom to represent their environment.

Give the students time to practice their new communication methods and language.

Stop discussion and ask students to sit in a circle in their groups facing each other and listening to the following teacher narration.

2.7 Teacher Narration and Improvisation. (8 mins)

Teacher Narration # 2 (Resource 4) The groups are given a scenario that has arisen that will require them to venture outside their towns’ borders.

In their groups the students will improvise the scenario up to the point where the decision is made to leave the town.

Allow students time to formulate a plan for their group for when they venture outside their borders. They must consider what they will do if they meet any one else. Their plan must be carried out in Role!

2.8 Group Roleplay(8 mins)

Group Role-Play

During their ventures they encounter the other group, each group must convey their message and their needs and wants to the other group to try and resolve their main issue.

If the group role play starts to lose focus. Freeze the moment and discuss what is happening and why. Re-direct students to think about the task at hand and how they can stay true to their group and their task.

Help them to define the problem and how it can be solved. Restart the role play when everyone is ready and re-focused.

3. Conclusion(10 mins)


3.1 Reflections, Implications & Extensions(10 mins)

3.1 Group discussion – what happened? Were you successful in the following:

  • Using only the language or communication method you had devised
  • Solving your groups problem
  • Working as a team
  • Listening to each other and valuing others ideas
  • Understanding what the other group needed
  • Why do your think we choose to explore communication with our pets this way?

How does this relate to real life?

  • How could this help us understand and relate to our pets and have empathy for animals?
  • How can we identify how our animals communication means?
  • How can this help us create better relationships with our pets?
  • How can this help us care for our pets and animals better?

Curriculum Links

Queensland Curriculum Links

Curriculum Links for this lesson
Key Learning area Curriculum link
The Arts

DR 4.1 Students select dramatic elements and conventions to collaboratively shape improvisations and roleplays.

DR 4.2 Students present devised and scripted drama using performance skills appropriate for a variety of purposes and audiences.

DR 4.3 Students make supported critical judgments about the application of dramatic elements and conventions in the context of their own work and that of others.


This lesson supports English outcomes of level 4 in the three areas of reading and viewing, speaking and listening and writing and shaping.

Level 4 Statement:

Students interpret and construct texts, from a range of generic categories that explore familiar and unfamiliar subject matter, by considering text type, purposes, implied meanings, and known and unknown audiences. They identify and use a range of textual resources that structure texts, extend and elaborate ideas and information, and express opinions. They explore how particular representations appeal to certain groups.

Suggested Homework Activities

  1. Create a school survey on reactions to how animals communicate: are people aware of how the animals around them communicate?

Suggested Extension Activities

  1. Practice with non-verbal communication (using frozen pictures).
  2. Explore the idea of non-verbal communication through frozen pictures: Students work in small groups to present the following messages using frozen pictures; facial expression and spatial elements such as levels etc need to be very clear. Try to incorporate some of the elements from the list created in section 2.2 of the lesson above.
    • Waiting for results of an exam
    • Receiving results of an exam (one group negative one positive)
    • Sharing results of an exam (one group negative and one positive).
  3. Create a language based on a unique alphabet example (only three consonants and two vowels).
  4. Analysis of debating techniques: what makes people have different opinions? Discuss background, cultural identity, language barriers, and body language.
  5. Develop a school class/school strategy for supporting your pet & learning how to communicate better with animals.

Suggestions for Adapting this Lesson for Lower or Higher Year Levels

This lesson could be adapted for lower year levels by allowing more time to explore the roles and the differing group identities. Remove some of the complications, and provide students with the language and gestures they are to use instead of requiring them to create this. Work in pairs to ask and get answers to simple questions rather than working as a large class group.

Higher year levels can use the activity to explore a range of communication methods, translators etc. This lesson can also be used to further explore the ideas of taking care of those who are unable to take care of themselves – Advocacy for animals. Different animal themes can be explored (care and empathy, cruelty and neglect) and how these are reported on via different media forms.


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