How to Teach History with our Bodies

The last Sam the Ant blog taught you how to use the concept of using and holding energy with young learners. You can take that idea into any form of learning, any lesson, anytime, anywhere. I learned this concept from acclaimed international Mime artist, Rick Wamer, who is also an amazing colleague, educator, friend, and one of the creators of Embody Learning. Make sure to check him out!

In today’s blog, you’ll be shown how to use this approach to teach any portion of history to your students at any age. This is an example of Embodied Learning.



Once you choose your historical topic, engage your students in a conversation and identify the key moments/events which took place.


With your students, identify the order in which these moments/events took place.


With your students, identify the key people, places and things which were a part of each moment/event.


Ask your students to create physical representations of each person, place and thing individually, and later in small groups. Compare the differences and similarities of the varying representations of the same people, places and things. Avoid having only one representation. Having multiple representations, with their bodies, can lead to some meaningful conversations about why they chose what they chose.


Create “Body Poems” which represent specific times in history. Ideally, have different groups of students create multiple versions of the same event and compare and contrast the subtext, and foreshadowing of future events. Try this without the students making any sounds.  Try it again with them making only sound effects. Then, have them try with sound effects and some spoken words.

There are so many variations on this approach to learning. I strongly encourage you to:

  • Make this strategy your own.
  • Be willing to model with your body, how many different ways you can represent a person, place and thing from any moment in history.
  • Be open to improvising based on the response of your students… there is always more than one way from point A to B.
  • When asking questions, make sure to use open ended questions, in addition to linear questions.
  • Keep in mind that one of our most important goals is to help our students think, observe and create, followed by co-creating.
  • The content is part of the bridge to learning.
  • How we learn is more important than what we learn.