Reader's Theater Lesson Plans

Reader's Theater lesson plans get students reading in a fun and motivating way.

By Lesley Roberts

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Reader's Theater Lesson Plans

Readers' Theater is a fun and interesting way to get students reading. As most teachers know, it is an activity in which students, while reading directly from scripts, are able to tell a story in an entertaining form. This is a reading activity, so students are not asked to memorize their lines. They are, however, encouraged to "ham it up" and use intonation and gestures appropriate to their characters and their characters' words. The Internet is a terrific source for entertaining scripts.  Teachers can also use copies of texts from the classroom library and highlight the dialogue, setting, and sound effects. These are also great ways to identify the parts of text.

Readers' theater serves many useful functions, such as providing repeated reading practice, an important factor in building fluency. Repeated reading practice also improves students' confidence in, and enthusiasm for, reading. You can make the performance as simple, or as elaborate, as you wish. For quick oral practice, students can read their lines while sitting at their desks. You can also hold a more dramatic reader's theater in the classroom simply by having readers stand in front of the class to deliver their lines. You can even create a full stage performance with costumes, props, and an audience of students, parents, and teachers. 

Reader's theater offers an easy and dynamic way to practice reading. By using reader's theater scripts, you encourage students to read with expression, and to practice important fluency attributes, such as pausing, and using inflection and intonation. But don't forget to go over the vocabulary. It is a good idea to pre-teach, and review difficult words. Teachers can monitor students' oral fluency, their ability to follow along silently, and their ability to listen to spoken cues as other students read. Reader's Theater also gives students practice in public speaking, and a great opportunity for group interaction and student cooperation.

Taking on character roles helps students understand literary elements, such as motivation and characterization as well. Reader's theater scripts also promote listening skills as students follow along silently and listen for spoken cues. The scripts provide a great opportunity for student cooperation, and they're a fun break from the usual reading routine. Allowing students plenty of opportunity to practice fluent delivery of their lines before performing a reader's theater can also boost their confidence before having to read in front of a big crowd, or even in front of their peers. This can be done by pairing students with partners and allowing them to gather in separate corners of the room. You can use the following lesson plans to help you to implement reader's theatre in your classroom.

Reader's Theater Lesson Plans

It's My Turn to Read   

Students explore reading fluency and reading with expression. They discuss four books and complete four different activities for each of the books discussed. Students read each book and act the story out using puppets, perform a reader's theater, and work with felt characters from the book and group reading.

Reader's Theater   

Students receive a copy of a reader's theater script and read it aloud as reading if  any other piece of literature. They then practice as a class re-reading, doing an echo reading and a choral reading activity. Once they have practiced, they choose and read parts as in a play, put together props and costumes, and invite others to attend the performance.

Phonics Expectancies and Reader's Theater   

Students examine phonics expectancies and participate in a reader's theater activity. They examine expectancies using visual clues, discuss words and match open and closed syllable expectancy. Next, they participate in a reader's theater reading of "The Legend of Lightning Larry" by Aaron Shepard.

Fluency Instruction: Reader's Theater 

Students participate in a reader's theater activity using readings that are downloaded from the Internet. In this lesson, they use the story entitled, "Peddler Polly Goods Bought and Sold There." They move around the stage using gestures and movement that is appropriate for the reading.

Reader's Theater and Instant Reads   

Students rehearse and read text aloud to an audience in a performance such as a reader's theater. They practice reading a text and students practice reading aloud to an audience. They perform a reader's theater using the text.

Instant Reads  

Students explore the five essential categories of successful reading; reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing through the use of reader's theater. They focus on the speaking aspect, and practice and rehearse a reader's theater script and present it to the class.