Dubbing – Bay Area Discovery Museum


Create and improvise an original performance with a partner! One child is the Picture, and moves freely but cannot speak. The other child is the Dubber, and speaks for the Picture and provides appropriate sound effects. Both children must work together to create an original story!

Materials Required

  • Simple props such as hats, gloves, swords, etc.


1. Decide on roles. The Picture acts out the scene while the Dubber speaks for the Picture, including sound effects.

2. Brainstorm a list of potential locations for the scene to take place. Try to list original places that have characteristic sounds like a noisy subway station or a beach with crashing waves.

3. Choose a location from the list and start improvising! The Picture acts out what may be happening at this location, while the Dubber provides the sound effects and speaks for the Picture.

4. Be sure to play off of each other! The Picture must move his or her lips as the Dubber speaks, and the Dubber needs to stay alert in order to provide appropriate sound effects to accompany the Picture’s actions.

5. After practicing a few scenes, ask friends or family to watch an original performance!

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Switch roles! Make sure both participants get to act as both the Picture and Dubber.
  • Introduce new characters into the scene. Create a group of four, containing two Pictures and two Dubbers. The Pictures must interact nonverbally, while the Dubbers narrate the story and provide the sound effects. Continue adding partners to the scene, and see how large the group can grow!

Links to Creativity

This activity is great for improvisation and flexible thinking, and often leads to experiences of flow (i.e., being in-the-zone). The challenge of putting words into a partner’s mouth involves empathy. When understanding things from another person’s perspective, we are likely to consider new ideas, a hallmark of the creative process.

Supporting research includes:

Grant, A. M., & Berry, J. W. (2011). The necessity of others is the mother of invention: Intrinsic and prosocial motivations, perspective taking, and creativity. Academy of Management Journal54(1), 73-96.

Montuori, A. (2003). The complexity of improvisation and the improvisation of complexity: Social science, art and creativity. Human Relations56(2), 237-255.

Sawyer, R. K. (2000). Improvisation and the creative process: Dewey, Collingwood, and the aesthetics of spontaneity. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 58(2), 149-161.


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. ©2015 Bay Area Discovery Museum. It was inspired by an activity by Sue Walden of ImprovWorks. For more information and resources see CenterforChildhoodCreativity.org or www.improvworks.org.


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