publication date: Jan 31, 2018
author/source: Carol Montgomery
February makes me think of Groundhog's Day and Groundhog's Day makes me think of Waddles. About fifteen years ago we moved to a less toxic house in a more rural area of Maryland. Settlement day for the new house was January 15, our anniversary, and the day after an ice storm. Ice sparkled like jewels in the trees. We didn't know we had just bought buried treasures, too!
Spring came and our first treasure appeared. Pudgy, curious, and hungry it munched grass in our backyard. We recognized it as a groundhog (also known as a woodchuck). We named it Waddles because groundhogs are so cute when they walk. Trouble started when we realized Waddles lived under our shed and became a garden pest.
I won't tell you the rest of the story here, but I wrote a Readers Theater script based on our experience with Waddles, "Waddles, the Grateful Groundhog" in three parts for elementary students. So, here's a list of five February Readers Theater ideas starting with Groundhog's Day and Waddles:
1. Groundhog's Day (Feb. 2)
Encourage students to write their own Readers Theater scripts (fiction or non-fiction) based on groundhogs. Animals make great Readers Theater characters. In fact, although "Waddles, the Grateful Groundhog" is an exclusive Script Buffet Club members' script, we have also bundled all three parts into our "Waddles the Grateful Groundhog" character building Readers Theater script in our store. (Every script includes annotated curriculum links for easy lesson plans.)
Your students could create a Readers Theater script comparing and contrasting beavers and groundhogs. Maybe the Beavers play the Groundhogs and both teams win?
2. Valentine's Day
Encourage students to research the heart and write their own non-fiction Readers Theater using that information. That's what I did in our Readers Theater script "Oh, My Heart, Heart, Heart" (three different readability levels in the Script Buffet Table under "Health").
Here's a fun part of this non-fiction health/science script: Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Your students could collect heart and heart-healthy facts. Let them toss in a few choral lines: "Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub" and they'll be smiling. (I had a fun, catchy rhyme in the script, but that's not necessary.) The script nearly writes itself. Easy, right?
If you're not a Script Buffet Club member you may find "Oh, My Heart, Heart, Heart Readers Theater with Flexi-Curric™" in our store for grades 3-8. It includes thinking questions, extension activities, and three illustrated graphic organizers. (Script Buffet Club members get a BIG discount when they're logged in and purchase store products.) (NOTE: The EASY and Simplified versions of "Oh, My Heart, Heart, Heart" should be available in our store by February 10, 2018.)
Stretch your heart unit into a full month of healthy non-fiction Readers Theater. One of our popular scripts is loosely based on a nutrition unit I taught in the elementary classroom. The students became sugar spies at home by reading labels to find hidden sources of sugar (e.g., catsup or ketchup).
I LOVE encouraging healthy eating! One of our early scripts, "The Sugar Spies" allows me to share that love with students and teachers around the globe. Although "The Sugar Spies" has a readability of grade 3.7, the topic and script should work well for grades 3-6 and some adult groups. It's a full story so there are several pages in this popular free download.
4. President's Day (U.S.)
Choose historical fiction or fun facts Readers Theater to integrate history, reading, and speaking skills. Our Script Buffet has four readability levels for the fun game-show Readers Theater, "President's Day Quiz Parade" (i.e., readability of grade 2.0, 3.7, 5.6, or 6.3). So, your students in grades 2-8 can all enjoy this audience-participation Readers Theater script focused on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Do you know why Abraham Lincoln grew a beard? The story about the little girl who wrote him is in our free Readers Theater script "Abraham Lincoln: It's Lincoln Penny Day!" The delightful story is based on a letter that the little girl wrote to Abraham Lincoln BEFORE he was president. Her honest opinions still make me smile. Based on historical documents, "Abraham Lincoln: It's Lincoln Penny Day!" is perfect for elementary students. There are two versions of the script (i.e., with and without audience participation), but I'm only giving you one link for the free Readers Theater "Abraham Lincoln: It's Lincoln Penny Day!" and the second shorter version will be linked at the bottom of that page.
5. Underground Railroad
Choose historical fiction or fun facts Readers Theater to inspire your students with tales from the Underground Railroad. I happen to live in Maryland where Harriet Tubman was born and raised. Once I read her autobiography (as told to Sarah Bradford) I knew I had to write a collection of scripts about this courageous woman who led over 300 slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. So far there are only two scripts about Harriet Tubman: "Harriet Tubman, Alias Moses: Joe's Journey" (free) and "Harriet Tubman, Alias Moses: The Swamp Mystery" (for paying Script Buffet Club members). Also, you'll find two more general scripts about the Underground Railroad under the category Black History on our Free Scripts catalog page.
6. BONUS: Character Building
Choose biographies, parables, and fables for stimulating Readers Theater discussions about character qualities. Like Harriet Tubman's examples of courage, many of our Readers Theater scripts demonstrate positive character qualities in a non-preachy way. Even Aesop's Fables can teach honesty. Check out our free script "The Beaver and the Lumberjack" to see how.
Wow! I think there are enough Readers Theater ideas for February to build leaders and creators with Readers Theater every week. Weekly Readers Theater? Why not? You'll integrate reading , writing, listening, thinking, speaking, health, history, and character-building in one delightful activity. Readers Theater is hidden treasure. What treasures will you share in February?