March Shortcut: 5 March Readers Theater Ideas and Tips for Enjoying Readers Theater All Year
By Carol Montgomery © 2017
One spring I represented Readers Theater All Year at a curriculum conference with a vendor's table. A young girl with dark braids walked by with her mother and became very interested in Readers Theater. I briefly explained a Readers Theater script to her and we read the script for Aesop's Fable "The Beaver and the Lumberjack" together.
She changed her voice for the part of the beaver and used her normal voice for the part of a narrator. When we came to the end of the script her face lit up like radiant sunshine as she asked, "Can we do another one?"
The little girl was inspired. And, her mother and I were inspired. We all had fun while she was building life-long skills.
March inspires many Readers Theater opportunities. Here are five ideas to help inspire you:
We often think of spring as the season of flowers, not fish. But, baby fish hatch in the spring in waterways around the globe. One of our secrets is a science series of three free Readers Theater scripts, "Students Save Shad!" Based on a true science story from the book Let the River Run Silver Again by Sandy Burk and trustworthy online resources, this 3-part environmental script series shares how students helped save the American shad (fish).
Hosted by student TV journalists, our free "Students Save Shad!" Readers Theater scripts integrate curriculum across subject lines in a memorable experience. Complete with annotated curriculum links for easy lesson plans and further research, this inspiring story will motivate elementary and middle school students to take action and make a difference. And, if you really like it, there's a separate cheer to go with the book. You'll find Part I here; but all four of the scripts (including the cheer) are found under Science in our Free Scripts Catalog: "Kids Save Shad" (grades 1-3) and "Students Save Shad!" (grades 3-6+). If March is too busy for you save this script for April's Earth Day.
2. St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Day can become a mysterious holiday in a classroom. Why not let our "St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Radio Show" help share some of the facts?
"Top 'o the mornin' to ya! I'm Shammy O'Leary with Right as Rain Radio..."
That's the start of our humorous and informative script "St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Radio Show" with trustworthy, annotated curriculum links for easy lesson plans. The small cast in this free Readers Theater script makes it flexible for 3-part choral reading, puppet plays, family fun, tutoring, small group classroom Readers Theater, and performances. It's perfect not only for St. Patrick's Day, but also for a unit study on Ireland or immigration. Don't miss the fun Kelly Green story!
We have three different readability levels in our script buffet table: "St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Radio Show (Simplified)–grade 3.6, our original script–grade 4.4, and our middle school script–grade 6.8. (Warning: The reading levels may be higher, I think, because of 4 Irish sayings included and a couple of vocabulary words.)
3. Biographies of Inventors
Biographies of inventors could carry you to the end of the year. We have a growing collection of inventors in our Script Buffet Club for most reading levels based on extensive research (i.e., Edison, Bell, Franklin). You may find more scripts online.
Also, remember your students would LOVE to write about an inventor or an invention. In our Script Buffet for paying members you'll find "The Benjamin Franklin Idea and Invention Show" (middle school version) and "The Benjamin Franklin Idea and Invention Show (Simplified)" as a launching pad for your students to study Franklin's inventions with a fun twist. (Shhh...there are commercials for some of Franklin's inventions.)
Even if you don't do Readers Theater on a particular inventor, you could encourage students to create Readers Theater commercials about inventions. Maybe you could have e a quiz show format like our "President's Day Quiz Parade" in our Script Buffet? For example, let the audience guess the answer to, "Who is the inventor behind the invention?"
Jokes, riddles, and funny stories grab attention. Laughter heals and motivates engagement. I try to insert a little humor as much as possible in our Readers Theater scripts, but what's funny for one person may not be funny for another. I do know that we have a free, funny script based on a true teacher story that I adapted for Readers Theater: "Dog Jog Adventure" (two readability versions).
These "Dog Jog Adventure" scripts are perfect for Choral Readers Theater with the boys reading the part of the brother and the girls reading the part of the sister. Since the children in the script are probably middle school age or older, even middle schoolers should enjoy the hilarity–with easy vocabulary.
5. Character Building and Virtues
Some teachers write that they are looking for character-building scripts or scripts that teach virtues. So, I created a category for that, but I try to make sure most of our scripts promote good character through role models with positive attitudes or catchy cheers within a script. Many of our Readers Theater scripts demonstrate positive character qualities in a non-preachy way. Even our Aesop's Fable "The Beaver and the Lumberjack" can teach honesty.
Ben Franklin focused on virtues. He really tried to better himself and make the world a better place. We have him to thank for the ideas of the public library and volunteer fire department. And, he never made any money off of his inventions of the Franklin Stove or the lightning rod. He once wrote in Poor Richard's Almanac, "The noblest question in the world is what good may I do in it?" That sounds like a great launch for character building to me.
I used Franklin's writings to create a script on his personal character-building ideas. The middle school script is "Benjamin Franklin's Virtues–Project Perfection." (That script also comes in a simplified version with a readability level of grade 5.0) But, for your younger students we have "Ben Franklin–the Be Better Plan" (in one or two-part versions with a readability level of grades 2-3.)
Wow! I think there are enough Readers Theater ideas to build leaders and creators with Readers Theater every week. Weekly Readers Theater? Why not? You'll integrate reading, writing, listening, thinking, speaking, literature, history, and character-building in one delightful activity. Time to march forward with Readers Theater, team! Hip-hip-hooray!