This is Your Bug Life!

play by Marian McGuinness , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Experiment with using tone, volume, pitch and pace to present lines from a play.  

Make a statement to the class, deliberately speaking in a monotone voice with minimal expression. Make the content of the statement as exciting as possible in contrast with the dreary tone of voice, for example sharing that you have won $1 million.  

Discuss how the tone, volume, pitch and pace doesn’t match the content. View the video, Pace, Emphasis, Diction, Tone, and Volume, on YouTube, for more information on this topic.  

Invite students to share examples of how the statement should be presented, ensuring they identify it would suit a presentation style with increased volume, quick pace, and an excited tone. Discuss key words to emphasise with expression, such as ‘one million’.   

View a video of Funny Kids Roast Quiz Show Host | Hard Quiz Kids Special, on YouTube. Discuss the way the presenter, Tom Gleeson, varies how his voice sounds. Examples include:  

  • Speaking quickly and with expression when saying the names of the contestants  
  • Extending pauses before making dramatic statements, such as the contestants chosen specialist subject  
  • Slowing down when asking a question 
  • Using an excited tone when one of the contestants says they own the Hard Quiz board game and book  

Place students in pairs and display a range of statements, including:  

  • I am worried about you.  
  • This is the best day of my life.  
  • I am so excited to be here.  
  • I am dreading this.  

Instruct students to experiment with saying each of the statements, using the most appropriate tone, volume, pitch and pace. Students may prefer to experiment with saying the line, ‘I love cheese pizza’ in a variety of ways based on the punctuation found on the resource Reading with Expression Practice! I Love Cheese Pizza.   

Read the play. Discuss how the lines might be presented. For example:  

For the character of the host, identify the following:  

The line: ‘Douglas Dung Beetle, This is Your Bug Life,’ would be said at a slow pace, empahsising words such as, ‘this’ and ‘your’, and with an excited tone and high pitch.  

Saying the line that is capitalised, ‘THIS IS YOUR BUG LIFE,’ in an excited tone, highlighting the use of capital letters to demonstrate extra emphasis.  

Note stage directions, such as ‘(with authority),’ informing students this might need a brisk pace, and slightly deeper pitch.  

Draw students attention to further stage directions, such as:  

Doug Dung Beetle: (gets a little teary) Dad! You adopted me when I was a little larva.  

Discuss how this line might be presented (with extended pauses and talking in a whisper as if holding back tears).  

Place students in small groups. Instruct them to discuss further examples of how each character may present certain lines. Tell students to each select a character and experiment with presenting their lines.  

Once students have had time to experiment with presenting their chosen character’s lines, match groups together so each group of students has another group to present to. Instruct students to take turns presenting the lines.  

Discuss differences between the way some students may have presented the same lines. Inform students that directors and actors often have their own interpretation of a script, and how lines should be presented.  


Students film their performances, using video recording software. Recordings could be viewed by the students to enable them to reflect on their delivery of the lines.