Readers' Theater

Download the Activity

Language Arts, Reading, Oral Language, Listening, Speaking

Grade 3- 5

Objective

Students will participate in Readers' Theater productions with a baseball theme. Readers' Theater is drama without costumes, props, stage, or memorization. It is done in the classroom by groups of students who become the cast of the dramatic reading.

Directions

Ideas
You can give the students the two activity sheets using the book, Bobby Baseball. The first gives them specific sections of the book that they have to re-write as Readers' Theater productions. The second page gives them some more general instructions for writing Readers' Theater scripts about baseball or other childrens' books.

Staging
Your classroom is the stage. Place four or five chairs or stools in a semicircle at the front of your class or in a separate staging area. If you have no stools, have students sit on the tops of their desks, facing the audience. Students may use simple costumes like hats or coats, but generally no costumes are used in this type of dramatization.
If you have plain robes or simple coats of the same color or style so that everyone looks about the same, this can have a nice effect. Students dressed in the same school uniform or colors create an atmosphere of seriousness. Props are not needed, but they may be used for additional details.

Scripting
Readers' Theater can be done using a standard play format. It is also easy to convert well-written dialogue from children's literature into a dramatic format.
Keep the number of actors to four or five. The most important reader with the largest amount of text is the narrator. You can easily have the narrator role divided between two actors, if the text is long.
If you choose a children's book, such as Bobby Baseball, find a selection with a good deal of exciting or interesting dialogue.
  • Assign the narrator to the sections without quotes.
  • Assign separate actors to each role in the dialogue, such as Dad, Bobby, Mom, Jason, and Grandpa. If there are too many roles, have one actor do two parts. (Make sure these two parts don't have to talk to each other.)
  • Drop the inter-dialogue remarks such as he said, answered Dad, or remarked Jason.
  • Copy the text so that each child has a clearly marked, useable script.
  • Place scripts in folders that are uniform in color and size.
  • Allow children to practice for several days before presenting in front of the class.

Performing
Students should enter quietly and seriously into a dimly lit room, with their scripts held in the same position. Actors should sit silently and unmoving on the stools or desks and wait with heads lowered or alternatively focusing on a point above the audience such as a clock. The narrator should start reading and the actors will then focus on their scripts. The actors should focus on whoever is reading, except when they are performing.

Extension
Encourage students to add movement and memorization to performances after several experiences with Readers' Theater. They can introduce mime to the performance and add props or costumes, as the circumstances allow. Some students may begin to add accents as they become more familiar with the drama.

Resources

  • copies of Readers' Theater Activities idea sheets (see the link below)

© 2017 Teacher Created Resources. All Rights Reserved.