Reading with expression promotes
fluency and reading comprehension. Reader’s Theater is a fun and
engaging way to get students to read fluently with expression as they
are playing a character. By practicing a script, students are reading
the text repeatedly to gain fluency. This lesson uses reader’s theater
to lead children into reading with expression.
· Photocopies of the The Old
Woman and Her Pig Reader’s Theater script for each student. (From:
Readers Theatre for Beginning Readers by Suzanne I. Barchers.
Englewood, Colorado: Teacher Ideas Press, 1993, p. 16)
· Dry erase board with marker
to write “I am so happy to be at school today” and “It is raining
· Evaluation sheet for each
-Did the student
use expression in their voice when reading? Did they properly portray
-Was the student’s
facial expressions appropriate for the character and
-Overall, did the
student use expression?
Step 1:Explain the importance of
reading with expression and model expressive reading. Tell Students:
When we are reading out loud, it is important that we sound like we do
when we talk to our friends. When you talk to your friends do you sound
like this? (Say in a monotone with no expression) “Hi. How are you. It
is so good to see you.” I hope not. We usually use expression when we
talk to each other like this: (With expression) “Hi! How are you? It is
so good to see you!” It is also important to use facial expressions
when you are reading and let you voice tell others the mood of what you
are reading. Would you say (In excited and happy voice with smile on
face), “I am so sick today!!!” Probably not. You might say it like this
(sad face and low voice), “I am so sick today.” It is important to
remember this when reading out loud.
Step 2:Say: I have a sentence that I
am going to read to you and I want you to listen for expression. (Write
“I am so happy to be at school today” on board) I am going to read the
sentence two times in two different ways. See if you can tell the
difference in my expression. (Sarcastic snobby voice with half smile)
“I am so happy to be at school today.” Do you think I am being sincere?
Am I really happy to be at school? Doesn’t sound like it. It
sounded like I was not happy at all to be at school. (Smile and
speaking excitedly). “I am so happy to be at school today!” Do you
think I really am happy? How could you tell? Because I was smiling?
What about the tone of voice I used?
Step 3:Practice reading some
sentences as a class. Say: Now I want everyone to practice reading this
sentence with expression. (reveal: It is raining outside again.)
Everyone did a good job! Now let’s read it again, and this time, let’s
read it like we are so excited its raining because we all love dancing
in the rain and hopping in mud puddles! Great job! I heard some happy
voices and saw some smiling faces! Now, let’s read it again, but this
time, let’s pretend like we hate the rain and it has just ruined our
day. Good Job! I heard that you all were so sad that it was raining and
I could see it in your faces!
Step 4:Introduce reader’s theater.
Say: When people are acting in a play or movie, they use expression to
make the story seem real. Today, we are all going to be actors in a
play! The play is called The Old Woman and her Pig. I am going to give
each of you a script and the highlighted character is the one you will
play today. In this story, there is a little old lady to finds a coin
and she decides she wants to buy a pig. She asks several characters
along the way to help her out. Each character uses different
expression. For example, how might the little old lady talk? Let’s say
her first line together using expression. “What good fortune! I will go
to the market and buy a little pig!” Good job! I heard many of you
talking in a shaky voice like an old lady. You also sounded excited! I
liked the smiles and happy expressions on your faces too!
Step 5:Pass out scripts so that each
student has a part in the story. Say: I want each of your to
whisper-read your parts to yourself to make sure you know all of the
words in your part. Then, find a partner and read your parts to each
other using expression. I will be walking around and listening to your
voices and looking at your faces for expression.
Step 6: Have the students perform the
story as a group. Say: Now, I want you to perform the story for me. I
will be listening for expression so I know how the characters are
feeling in the story. I will also be looking for facial expressions.
As the students perform, listen and
watch for expression. Listen to the class performance and answer the
following questions about each child:
-Did the student use expression in
their voice when reading? Did they properly portray their character?
-Was the student’s facial expression
appropriate for the character and the story?
-Overall, did the student use
Take specific notes on each student
about their reading. Pick out parts of the story where they used lots
of expression and parts where they could have improved. Share notes
Lauren Cauthen Lesson Design –
Reader’s Theatre for Reading Expression
Reader’s Theater Script The Old Woman
and Her Pig
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