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Guidelines For Performing Reader’s Theater


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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. And, 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!

Looking for additional ideas for engaging challenged readers? Try poetry! Check out 10 Tips for Using Poetry with Challenged Readers.

Setting Guidelines for Reader’s Theater in Your Classroom

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:

Download this printable Reader’s Theater tip sheet!

Guideline #1: Follow Along

You must follow along with the script, even when it’s not your speaking part.

Guideline #2: No Reminders

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.)

Guideline #3: Repeat (if needed)

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.

Guideline #4: Have Fun!

Now, get into it and have some fun! 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.

Check out this video for another fun way to use your Reader’s Theater scripts!

Phonics-Based Reader’s Theater

This is a pinnable image for the Phonics Based Reader’s Theater for Reading and Spelling Generalizations product.

In my Phonics-Based Reader’s Theater Scripts, I have written a Reader’s Theater that I think your students will love. They are the perfect reading fluency supplement while your students are practicing their phonics skills. 

Each play focuses on one reading and spelling generalization at a time. Topics of the plays include traditional folktales and fictional stories. There are 12 reader’s theater phonics scripts in all!

Grab these scripts at my Literacy Nest Shop or on TPT!

To learn more about how you can engage your challenged readers, sign up for Building Readers for Life Academy. Both educators and families are welcome!

Building Readers for Life Academy is a monthly membership program that empowers educators AND families by diving into structured literacy and strategies for ALL learners. With BRFL Academy, you’ll learn what it takes to help EVERY student become a reader for life.

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  1. Great tips,totally agree with the part about encouraging self accountability, it's an important life skill and something that I find many students have to work on!

    Thank you for sharing,


  2. I love your suggestion about not allowing the students to nudge each other at their turn. I never thought about asking them to just repeat their line! I'm going to implement that right away!

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