I’m writing today about a reading activity that I absolutely love doing with students: Reader’s Theater. It’s such a great way to build in fluency practice and have fun at the same time. Over the years, I’ve picked weeks here and there in my reading workshop plans to take a little break from the typical schedule, and use the time to perform reader’s theater scripts. I try to find scripts that match the curriculum for that grade.
When I taught third grade we’d do scripts about the Pilgrims, Tall Tale characters (my personal favorites), Aesop’s fables, famous people in history, and even the American Revolution. However, during the weeks leading up to Christmas vacation, I would try to choose something holiday related with a message of giving to others. I don’t have to tell you how much excitement there is in a classroom in the days leading up to a major holiday!
Reader’s Theater provides a chance for valuable oral reading, fluency and public speaking practice. Plus, it gives children a different kind of focus when it’s really hard to do just that!
Do you ever have a hard time getting some students to follow along when you practice? Here are just a few guidelines I share with my class when we practice a script:
1. You must follow along with the script, even when it’s not your speaking part.
2. When it is your speaking part, NO ONE is going to give you a reminder or even a little nudge. (This is tough on the others that want to give a little pssstt!! Believe me, it builds much better accountability on behalf of the reader, and everyone follows along.)
3. If you finish reading your part, and you know the next person hasn’t caught on that it’s their turn to speak, just repeat your last line again. Keep doing it until the next person realizes it’s their turn.
4. Have fun, and use your best expression. If you make a mistake, calmly stop, take a deep breath and reread the line again.
*These guidelines have made performances run so much more smoothly, and there’s a lot more ownership of the parts.
In my Gift Of Giving Holiday Pack, I have written a Reader’s Theater that I think your students may enjoy. It’s based on the classic tale The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry. In my version, a twin brother and sister from a poor family want to buy each other a special gift, but don’t have any money. The plot is a bit sad at times, I admit, but the message is very important: “It’s better to give than to receive.”
You can see it in my store for purchase. Why not take a break in the upcoming week from the regular curriculum, even just for a day or two? Try out my guidelines, and see if they work for your students. I’d love to hear from you.