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Bringing creepy carrots to life

Posted on Dec. 28, 2018

students take turns narrating a storybook

RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL – Our 1st grade students love Aaron Reynolds’ Creepy Carrots. What’s not to love? It’s described as "The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who fears his favorite treats are out to get him." But what’s better than reading the story? Bringing it to life during an activity called reader’s theater. 

The goal in reader’s theater is to effectively read a script aloud so the audience can visualize the action. Without the benefit of costumes or props, our little performers make the text come alive by using voice, facial expressions and gestures. It’s similar to when parents perform all the voices when reading bedtime stories. Students do not memorize their roles, but must read along in the script to know when it’s their turn to speak.

The activity helps develop fluency through repeated exposure to the text, increases comprehension and provides a purpose for reading. "It helps relate reading to writing, as a way to understand the author has a voice and is using it to tell a story," says teacher Kristin Lessard, adding her students were thrilled to act out this particular book, even though it’s at a higher-level than most are reading in class. "Acting out the parts was motivation to sound out and decode the words." 

After reading the story together as a class and discussing the main idea, setting, events and characters, each student chose a role and practiced with their classmates — and some parent volunteers — before performing in front of other classes. The teachers say students were a little nervous. It took a leap of faith to read the parts in front of their 3rd and 4th grade buddies — plus some preschoolers and middle schoolers — but, as they did it, their confidence grew. 

Reader’s theater will continue throughout the year, and is just one of many tools used to instill a love of literacy and teach our students that reading is fun.