Four reasons to use reader’s theater scrips in the classroom *Freebie!
I LOOOOOOOVE Reader’s Theater scripts. They were a staple in my classroom, and I always found a way to integrate them into at least a few units throughout the year.
1. Building fluency and expression
This one’s obvious. Repeated readings build fluency because our decoding becomes more automatic and we can think about expression, intonation, and phrasing!
2. Integrating content I want students to learn and recall
I love to use Reader’s Theaters to build up content in math, science, or social studies! I do this by writing my own scripts that include the information that students need to learn in a story format.
One easy way to develop your own reader’s theater scripts is to adapt books. I have adapted several Magic Schoolbus books into scripts by assigning roles to each character, adding in a narrator for the backstory, or assigning the backstory to a character. It’s easy to do and really helps make the content engaging and suitable for rereading!
Inspired by my students, I wrote these math Reader’s Theaters: Goldilocks and the Three Angles, and Parallela and Her Wicked Stepsisters. We had a blast with them, reviewing lines and angles in a fun story!
3. Engaging students in enjoyable reading
This one’s kind of DUH! We want reading to be enjoyable and reader’s theater is a great way to do that! Look at how engaged these readers are!
4. Encouraging students to create and perform using their own unique skills
The first three reasons are pretty academic, but the fourth, bringing out what students have inside, is probably the most important. This story shows one of the many reasons why I love Reader’s Theater scripts:
One year, I had a student who struggled to control his behavior. Let’s be honest – it wasn’t just one year. But that’s the one I’m writing about today! He had anger issues and had seen a lot of violence in his home. He had a severe stutter, especially when he was agitated, and it was very hard to reach him. He had his positive moments, but on average, it was a struggle. Let’s call him Philip.
That year, I had my students practice a Reader’s Theater script I wrote for the book The Giving Tree. I love Reader’s Theater scripts and frequently wrote them and used them in my classroom. I divided up the parts by difficulty and then “randomly” distributed them – it was still pretty much random, except for a handful of more simple parts that I reserved for my kids who needed something more simple to read.
Well, you may guess where this is going. When I handed out the parts, I – completely honestly randomly- handed Philip the part of the tree. Oh, my Lord. The tree. The one who keeps giving. The one who says, “Here, boy, come and play on my branches.” The one who loooooves the boy so much.
So I wasn’t so sure if this was a good idea. For one, he didn’t seem that excited about it. I pretended like I didn’t see what was wrong with it, and I said, “You’re going to do a great job! Just practice, and think about what voice the tree would use!”
He did. He practiced, and practiced, and he learned those lines. And on the day we performed, after the narrators had introduced the plot, Philip opened his mouth, and in a high, loving, woman’s voice, said, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.”
No one dared laugh. The other kids looked at me, wide-eyed and wondering. We all kind of sat there, stunned, for a second, until the next reader realized is was his part to read. It was incredible. I almost cried (and I almost laughed). This script brought something out in Philip that I would never have seen otherwise. He continued the voice throughout the whole play.
So that’s why I love reader’s theater scripts.
This Thanksgiving, I decided to create some Reader’s Theater scripts for two readers. They’re suitable for partner time, such as Buddy Reading or Read to Someone. They’re written specifically in two parts!
One of my good friends took the scripts and laminated them. They’re each two pages long, so she used a large piece of construction paper and put the pages side by side. Each student receives a copy.
Then she put the scripts in her Read to Someone station. Are these readers adorable or what?
Want to see a play in action? Check out my poor, abused hunnybun in our Easter Partner Plays video!
Thanks for sharing this, Chrissy! I LOVED the story about the young man and just shared it on my business Facebook page (with a link to this post) to encourage other teachers.
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked the post!