April Shortcuts: 5 April Readers Theater Ideas and Tips for Enjoying Readers Theater All Year
By Carol Montgomery © 2017
Did you know I had Environmental Illness? When I first hit toxic overload my husband asked the doctor, "Is she going to die?"
The wise doctor answered, "No, she's not going to die."
"Do I take her to the hospital?" my husband asked.
"No, that would be the worst thing for her," the doctor replied.
Thank God he knew about Environmental Illness and he cared about me. A hospital would have exposed me to many more toxins. And, in those days we didn't know that I had genetic challenges with my detox pathways, making it difficult to detoxify.
For years that nightmare educated our whole family on the importance of healthy living and healthy environments. (It was dryer sheets that sent me "overboard". I could smell the toxins in dryer sheets and fabric softeners about 10-12 feet away!) Maybe that's why I LOVE nature and sharing about healthy living so much?
Of course, April means Earth Day in the United States and Earth Day represents healthy living for all of us. That means teachers have plenty of opportunities to incorporate Readers Theater that teaches about the environment, healthy living, recycling, nature, animals, and more. Here are five Readers Theater ideas for April:
April is National Poetry month in the United States. And, Readers Theater poems sneak into the schedule easily because they are often so short. Choose poems from anthologies, online, or from our small original collection under Language Arts and Poetry in our Script Buffet Table. You may enjoy our free script, "Oh, Give Me a Home in a Book," adapted from the song lyrics to "Home on the Range." Songs lyrics may also work as poems for Readers Theater. (Note: Most of our poems are for paying members of our Script Buffet Club.)
You can easily adapt any poem to Readers Theater by reading the poem in choral groups (i.e., each group takes one speaking part). Or, you may have individual readers read poems to each other for partner plays or in small groups. Just divide the lines so all the readers have a similar number of parts to read. To emphasize a line or the chorus of a song have everyone read it.
2. Seeds and Gardens
Poems about seeds can easily be converted to Readers Theater, too. Here are copies of the poems "Little Seeds" and "Plant a Garden" (from DLTK). Let the class divide the lines or small groups divide the lines for reading chorally and individually.
Although the internet and libraries may have Readers Theater scripts on seeds and gardens, there is one for our paying Script Buffet Club members that I wrote for primary students: "Seed Sprouts (with optional actions)". You'll love the "Indoor Rain Shower!" (Script Buffet Club members will need to be logged in to see it.)
You could also have students compose their own poems or scripts on things that grow in the garden (e.g., flowers, vegetables, berries, etc.) We'll save insects and bugs for another month. ;)
4. Water Cycle
Another Readers Theater script for primary students is our free "Hip, Hop, Water Drop." No, there's no hip-hop music, but there are optional actions. And, it integrates learning science with Readers Theater. It's fun–even for those who can't read English yet!
Here's a longer and more difficult option from Enchanted Learning: "Readers' Theater Script: Water Cycle Adventure." This cute script has a cast of 19–including a sewage processing plant. You could copy/paste the script into a document, if you like it.
Earth Day usually means discussions about recycling. Your students could create their own Readers Theater about recycling, showing creative alternatives to throwing things in the landfill (e.g., composting, gardens, and art or jewelry from recycled objects). But, for primary level students we have two versions of our popular "The Earth Day Hen and Friends." One teacher wrote and asked if I had puppets to go with the script. I do not. But, your students will love it anyway. If you have older students they will enjoy performing this fun script for a younger audience.
Giggle warning! This light-hearted script may inspire laughter.
6. BONUS: Environmental
For a spring-board for lively discussion see our free script "Talking Pets–Beyond Earth Day." It's a unique script because it shares a pet's potential perspective of laundry. I mentioned that dryer sheets sent me "overboard" into the nightmare of Environmental Illness. So, we became educated in how "normal" laundry products are often toxic. This script helps educate–from a pet's perspective. The annotated curriculum links at the end will make it worth your time to learn more.
Ask yourself, "Does the company who makes my laundry detergent CARE about my health or do they just want my money?"
Then, check the annotated curriculum links at the end of this free script to discover if YOUR laundry detergent rates A, B, C, D, or F from the Environmental Working Group. It's never too late to change! I did. Our whole family did. :) And, I believe we'll be healthier longterm because we're avoiding potential carcinogens and hormone disrupters often found in laundry products.
We have many scripts related to animals and nature in our Script Buffet, but you may find others online. Of course, any script about nature can be an environmental appreciation script. (See idea #1 in our March Shortcuts article for more on the true story of how students helped save the shad fish and the Readers Theater scripts that tell that environmental success story.)
April provides plenty of opportunities to build leaders and creators with Readers Theater every week. Weekly Readers Theater? Why not? You'll integrate reading, writing, listening, thinking, speaking, literature, science, and character-building in one delightful activity. Let's help YOUR students blossom and bloom!