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My kids loved to read plays! And we often read one just before a holiday, before summer vacation, or on another occasion when an especially engaging activity was needed – but reading a play doesn’t have to be just for a break! There are lots of everyday close reading skills that can be incorporated into reading a play, and you can make it as simple or as complicated as you have time for.
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Of course, you can find plays in reading anthologies and magazines like Scope, but there are also free resources available. Here are two possibilities:
Aaron Shepard’s Reader’s Theater Page – Free reader’s theater scripts to download for upper elementary through middle school.
- Zoom Playhouse – mini scripts from PBS Kids.
Three readings are actually perfect for reading a play if you have the time. You can use the close reading process, and the final presentation will be much more enjoyable thanks to all the preliminary work. Here is one way to incorporate the close reading process into reading a play:
Reading One – Students read the play silently. Follow up with oral questions to be sure everyone understands the story. Then, have students choose the characters they hope to portray and read short passages aloud as a “try-out” for the final production. Assign all students a part, either as a cast member of an understudy.
Reading Two – It’s time for the cast and the understudies to practice. Students work with a partner to practice reading their parts aloud. After practicing, go over any unfamiliar words with the class, or do another vocabulary activity with words from the play. For more follow-up activities, have students demonstrate their understanding of character traits by drawing “costume designs,” and their understanding of the setting by drawing “set designs.”
Reading Three – The big event! Students read the play aloud for the class. Students not reading could be assigned to write a review or complete a graphic organizer about the characters. Since students should be very familiar with the content after this third reading, a simple story map might be all that’s needed as a final evaluation.
Here are a few more ideas:
- Popcorn – Add to the theater atmosphere by serving popcorn in those red and white movie-style containers. Or have students make their own from white lunch bags.
- Shorter Options – No time for a whole play? Try a shorter option, such as a poem designed for choral reading.
- Kids’ Skits – Have the class present a skit written by students based on a section of a story that they have read.
- Puppets – Even older kids get into puppet theater. See this Edutopia article about using puppets written by a high school English teacher.
Of course, you can’t read plays every day, but you probably do want to have your kids practice close reading on a regular basis. If you are could use more close reading resources, you might want to take a look at Close Reading – Wild Winter, one of the choices in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Several of these resources, including Wild Winter, are sets of four articles with questions and follow-up activities for each of three readings. Others are single articles.
This guest post is by Sharon from Classroom in the Middle