Variations on Reader's Theater
By Mack Lewis
The classroom is so full of drama, you'd think it was a school teacher
who said, "All the world's a stage." From the havoc caused by a bee,
to the injustice of a letter grade, to the tragedy of a love triangle,
high drama comes naturally to kids. Here's a handful of literacy-building
ways to stage dramatic performances.
Radio Drama: You'll need a good tape deck, a microphone, and
a quiet half hour when you and the actors can meet to record. Begin
by introducing your class to some old-time radio drama such as The
Green Hornet or Fibber McGee and Molly. Experiment with
sound props, such as doorbells and footsteps, and be willing to rewind
and redo a scene that doesn't come off well.
Puppet Shows: Integration with art is just one of many benefits
to staging puppet shows. The fact that students are hidden sometimes
helps them overcome their inhibitions and forces them to work on voice
projection. Seek volunteers to assist in the classroom when making
hand or finger puppets, but also watch for puppets at garage sales
and discount stores. Imagine Paul Revere's Ride performed by frogs!
Television Production: If you're a bit of a techie and have
access to video cameras and VCRs, consider producing a simple television
show. Like radio drama, you have the opportunity to redo scenes, and
you also have a finished product that can be copied and sent home.
Be sure to promote the concept that, before you become a big star
in Hollywood, you have to be a good reader in school.
Skits: As students become proficient with adapting stories,
they can also recreate historical events in the form of skits. Individual
scenes from history such as Washington's Crossing of the Delaware
make great fodder.
is in his tenth year of teaching third and fourth grade. Look for
his original read-aloud play about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr., "I Have a Dream," in the January/February 2003 print issue of