Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Break a Leg? When readers' theater takes on a life of its own...

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided that we'd do Hattie and the Fox as a readers' theater. Perhaps I was feeling ambitious, overly zealous, or thought that in the midst of all the rest of end of year chaos that it would be a really good idea to take on another project.


What was I thinking?

We have one week of school left. Everyone wears their shorts to school and then spends the day checking out the scars on their knees from their exciting summer misadventures. The swimming pools are open. The kids can smell the chlorine calling them from the open windows of the classroom. Heck, I can smell the chlorine calling me. 

Put a fork in us, we are DONE.

And yet, we still have this play. A play that is making Mrs. Lipstick be a bit grouchy and unrealistic right when we should be having dance parties and celebrations.

Now, in the past readers' theater presentations have been no big thing. The kids practice their lines, we make construction paper costumes, we paint scenery, we invite other classes, we really don't make a big deal of it. It's something to keep us busy once all the guided reading books have been turned back in. This year it's about the same on paper- we practice our lines over and over again, we've made the construction paper costumes and painted the scenery, but everything is harder. Each step needs a lot more forethought and planning. Instead of ending up with activities that can happily keep kids busy for an hour after five minutes we have paint on the floor. And the door. And the table. And the kids. I will owe the custodian a large bottle of something delicious after this project is over.  And although we've made costumes I'm not sure that anyone will actually put the costumes on. We're a bit particular about what we wear. Sentence strip headbands aren't anyone's favorite thing...  But we're trying.

We practice everyday. Since Hattie is a pretty repetitive story it's the perfect readers' theater play for our kids because they each only have one line (except for Hattie) but they get to say the same line over and over and over and over again. Which is, frankly, beautiful. High participation with only one line to read. We even have the ipad cued up so that our non-responsive friends can hit the button on the ipad which will say then line and then our friends can repeat the line. So far so good. 

It's getting better. Everyday they seem to be able to say their lines with fewer prompts. Less reminders. They are even starting to sound like they are in a play. They are taking turns with their lines and understand when to talk and when not to talk. We're even able to sit still during practice without giggling hysterically, sitting upside down in our chairs, or touching our neighbor. Well, almost. Maybe I'm in a glass-half-full mode right now.

We've invited everyone we know. Parents, principals, teachers, friends. If it is going to be a disaster there will be a large crowd to watch the disaster unfold. I have faith that people coming love our kids and will be understanding. I have faith that everyone will appreciate the hard work the kids themselves are putting into this project, despite whatever outcome may happen when we fill the room with strangers and force them all to wear paper crowns and signs. 

One more week and I think I'm going to give myself an ulcer before Friday's show. Keep your fingers crossed and tell us to break a leg.

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