Monday, December 17, 2012

Having Fun with Common Core: More Readers Theater

Today’s post will be the first of several that describes how to locate and select books that work well for ReadersTheater.

To get started, head for your library’s J591 titles. These books focus on animal behaviors—what various animals do at night, how various animals migrate, what various animals do when it rains, etc. The “various” is important because each of the animals discussed in the book will become a character in your RT script. Books that describe one animal’s lifecycle or daily routine don’t work nearly as well.

Look at books in the J570s section, too. These titles focus on ecosystems. Photo-illustrated overviews of a particular habitat aren’t the best choice for RT, but picture books that describe the roles many different creatures play in their environment work well.

No matter which section you’re in, search for beautifully illustrated creative nonfiction picture books with one or more of the following characteristics:

·         lyrical language
·         repeated phrases
·         sound effects

You’ll find beautiful language and repetition well suited for a RT chorus in Home at Last: A Song of Migration by April Pulley Sayre (Illus. by Alix Berenzy, Holt). This book focuses on the migration behaviors of many different animals, from butterflies and trout to wood frogs and sea turtles.

Take a look at a couple of spreads:

Out at sea, grown-up salmon remember a smell.
It’s the smell of the stream where they were born.

They’ll swim two thousand miles. Hop up waterfalls.
Just to be

…home at last.

The book offers a variety of animal examples presented in lovely, lyrical language. The repeated phrase “home at last” is perfect for a chorus.

Splitter, splat, splash! As a rainstorm “thrums” through the treetops, a tropical forest comes alive in Rain, Rain, Rain Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson (Illus. by Steve Jenkins, Holt). Guiberson’s masterful use of vibrant language and sensory details along with Jenkins’ signature collage style brings the lush, green realm alive.

Take a look at the first spread:

Keeecheeew! A dangling sloth sneezes slowly.
He has been asleep for sixteen hours but now
stirs awake in the pounding rain.

He is so wet that green algae grow in his fur.
Moths live in the fur and eat the algae. Hundreds
of ticks, fleas, and beetles live there too.

The sloth eats leaves. He chews and digests
VERY slowly.

Now protected from hungry jaguars by the thrum
and splatter of the water, the sloth begins a slow
journey to the forest floor. Moving at just six feet
a minute, he passes a bathing macaw as the rain
trickles to a stop.

Look at all the different potential characters described on just these pages. Of course, kids will enjoy being a sloth. But don’t forget all the creepy crawlies hanging out in the sloth’s fur. Your students will love those roles too. Sound effects scattered throughout the text will add fun and energy to of any script created using this book.

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