Readers Theater: Dramatized Learning

Readers Theater: Dramatized Learning

In connection with a project to understand and reduce bullying on campus, students work with the artist to create a readers theater script that includes gestures and sound effects. Then they rehearse and perform for other students at the school.

Grade 4
Content Area Social Studies
Key Benchmark SS 3.2.2 Analyze an experience or event based on differing points of view

Art Form Drama
Art Benchmark Use physical movements and voice to express ideas and emotions.
School Year 2010-2011
Artist Carol Conner
Unit Plan

Readers Theater is a drama convention in which actors perform while holding, and reading from, their scripts. A great deal more information, along with scripts related to many curriculum topics, can be found at

Lesson Plans

What is Readers Theater?

Students are introduced to curriculum-based readers theater and its conventions, including vocal variety, gestures, and sound effects. Using a sample script, they learn to listen and read on cue.

Brainstorming Script Ideas

Students brainstorm ideas for a readers theater script on the topic of bullying. The artist helps them decide on context and characters, and then come up with opening lines.

Completing the First Draft

Students read through the script and then add more lines, read and add, read and add, until the script is complete.

Finalizing the Script

First draft is distributed and lines are assigned. Lines are short and the number of readers is fitted to the number of students in the class. In addition, some lines are read by groups of students, and many lines are read by “All.” The narrator usually has the somewhat longer lines and needs to be someone who reads comfortably, clearly, and with good volume. Students use a marker to highlight the lines assigned to them. This draft includes stage notes by the artist indicating the places for a [gesture] or a [sound effect]. The class suggests revisions as needed, and begins deciding what gestures and sound effects would make the script more entertaining and effective.

Planning the Presentation

Students read through the final draft of the script and finish deciding on gestures and sound effects. Students then read through the script at least once, including all the gestures and sound effects.


Students read through the script, incorporating gestures and sound effects 3 or 4 times. After each reading, they discuss how to improve the presentation for performance. They take turns reading from seats in the “audience” and standing up to perform, with those in the “audience” able to make suggestions such as, “Hold your scripts down, not in front of your faces,” or “Maybe everyone should turn and look at Choral Group B when they say their rhymed lines.” On the day of presentation, the teacher should take the class through a read-through, standing as they will in presentation and including all gestures and sound effects.