Part 2: the Antarctic explorers – a process drama

Part 2 provides teachers with a step-by-step description of a drama that invites students to travel back in time and explore the challenges of a journey to explore Antarctica.

Use an image of a group of sailors ready to sail to ask the key question: What do they hope to find and discover at Antarctica? Invite the children to wonder why they are going on this journey. What might they need to know? How do we know it is from the past?

A series of drama processes will lead the student through the drama. They will work collaboratively creating roles and developing the situation to create dramatic action.

The setting is roughly around the time of many early Australian expeditions (1911–1920). Students explore the journey of a group of sailors and scientists, and the purpose of their explorations. The students prepare for the journey, taking on roles, constructing makeshift boats and setting sail. But there are challenges on the journey and children need work together to find the solutions.

The series of activities could be managed over three to five weeks depending on the year level and time available in class.


Materials to make rough boats:

  • cardboard boxes, poles, pieces of material, nets, as many white sheets as possible, some simple musical instruments, old compasses, any scientific equipment suitable to the times, for example magnifying glasses etc (but keep it simple), badges or sticky labels.

Key words

Explorer, scientist, Antarctica, blizzard, sleet, weather, iceberg, polar, medical supplies, compass, history, anchor, voyage, journey, horizon, navigator, captain, first mate, oceanographer.

Contract and introduction

  1. Ask the children to agree to suspend disbelief and commit to a drama.
  2. Explain that they will be pretending to travel back in time and be a group of sailors/scientists who are going on a journey to Antarctica.
  3. Locate Antarctica on the class map for the students.


Students create freeze frames of: anchors, boats, icebergs, and penguins playing in the sea near icebergs, a hut or shelter from cold weather, explorers walking on ice, explorers walking in ice in a blizzard.


  1. Activity 2.1: initiation phase
  2. Activity 2.2: experiential stage
  3. Activity 2.3: reflection
  4. Activity 2.4: assessment opportunities