Fluency/ Dramatizing/Readers’ Theater     

Tips:  Fluency

#1 Being Read to by Teachers

  1.   Partner Reading--is  a great way to encourage fluency and confidence. After guided reading, pair off the students and have them read to each other - their audience - instead of  the oral rereading of the text as a group.   They can read with a partner in the reading center or be placed around the room.

  2. Plumber’s Elbow Pipes are great for developing fluency. The student reads into one end and places the other end to his/her ear.

The old fashion Round Robin Reading-  everyone in the class/group taking a turn to read aloud, is just that: for the birds and can accomplish no good, only harm. Besides discipline problems that surface,  there is no teaching involved; it serves no purpose.

  1. Choral Reading of poetry is another sure way of developing fluency. Repeating poetry can be easily varied by alternating stanzas or lines with the group as a whole or individuals taking a line. Varying choral reading makes the repetition interesting and fun. Repeating the readings supports fluency as well as confidence especially for the At Risk student. With choral reading, children can enjoy chanting, shouting, reading fast, reading slowly, reading with exaggerated expression and creating unusual effects with many voices. Video tape their performance and replay it for them as their reward for a good job.

  2. Reading cumulative stories is good to develop fluency because their rhythm and rhyme and simple plot such as  An Invitation to the Butterfly Ball , The Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, The Gingerbread Man, The House that Jack Built, The Great Big Enormous Turnip, The Cake That Mack Ate, Chicken Licken, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, for more advanced readers- Shoes for Grandpa. Children can be paired, given a character for practice reading,  and can make a puppet of their character. After the children know their lines the whole group can come together and perform. Each pair can hold up their puppet and chorally reads their part.

  3. . Listen to Read Alongs Above all, have the students listen to many professionals as they follow along with the text. Research has shown how learning disabled, disadvantaged and culturally disadvantaged are helped significantly with the read-along recorded stories. Public libraries are well stocked with read-along CD sets. They can also be purchased at book stores. An average gain of eight months in reading after three months was noted by Carbo in her study. “Teaching Reading with Talking Books.” The Reading Teacher Dec. 1978)

With the student who has no self-confidence, you may even have the student listen to a read-along with earphones while the student is recorded reading along.  That entails two recorders- one to play and the other to record plus earphones. It certainly boosts a students morale and confidence when he/she listens to himself/herself.

Using Music to Improve Reading Fluency

  1. Students become more fluent readers as they read and sing along with the lyrics for a variety of songs.

  2. Besides giving students time for repeated reading, working with lyrics has other benefits.

Students find rhyming words and word structure by pulling out this already familiar text. Vocabulary development helps comprehension in other types of reading. Song lyrics are a natural springboard to studying themes.”

Print the songs onto charts and place them around the room to teach weekly word chunks and to read when they are “reading the room.”

  1. Readers Theater/Dramatizing provide a need for repetitive readings

  2. Podcasting and Video Taping provide enthusiasm to practice oral reading and spark an desire to read fluently.

  3. SSR Sustain Silent Reading is an important time for students to practice their reading and in turn become fluent readers.  The guided reading session needs to be complemented with independent reading to encourage proficiency. Teachers can motive meaningful SSR sessions   by providing time at the end of the sessions for students to discuss their readings with a partner.  Teachers can conference during this time to help motivate, find the interesting reading material, and reinforce strategies.

  4. Of course the best way of developing fluency is to read, read, read and reread books.  The Commission on Reading in Becoming a Nation or Readers states that independent reading is a major source of reading fluency.                                   

I maintain that at the earliest stage, reading can be fluent if  the children are taught to use semantic and syntactic clues along with phonics. Initially when children are reading a text, they should not be asked to sound out an entire word - just get their mouth ready for the first sound.  Pictures, repetition, and predictability support fluency for emergent readers. Emergent readers should be given enough support so they will not make a mistake.

Familiarity with the topic - background- knowledge-and the predictability of the text, greatly supports fluency.

  1. Fluency - speed can not be a primary objective in reading.  Beware of children with severe learning disabilities. Very bright, disabled students may not be able to synchronize the visual with the verbal. Some Leaning Disabled readers comprehend a 100%; make great predictions, and are very insightful making great deductions and analogies but they can not read aloud to save themselves! Some students, like some adults, are constantly self correcting, stuttering,  and repeating, but they can read silently with great comprehension. 

  2. Oral reading usually gives the teacher an indication of a student’s readability level but not if the student has a problem with synchronizing the eye and voice. That type of child should not be asked to read aloud unless it is a very short passage; has been practiced; and there is plenty of support such as a poem with rhythm, rime, and repetition. All students want to read aloud but stuttering, repetitions, and self-corrections  will subject that type of disabled student to ridicule and provide a poor model for others. It will also reinforce a poor self image in the disabled student.

Don’t insist on word perfect oral reading. If a student substitutes a meaningful word, don’t stop to correct him. Make corrections at the end of the reading and only if miscues change the meaning. Mistakes are a part of life.

  1. Fluency is usually an indication of comprehension but not necessarily. Occasionally a teacher can encounter a student who reads with great fluency but  comprehends zilch. Oral reading is so easy for some that they get distracted while reading aloud.  Memorizing a text with many repeated readings until fluency has been reached is not reading. It can build morale and a better self-image.  Too much emphasis on phonics can defeat the goal of reading: comprehension.

  2. Humor - reading humorous stories plants the desire to  entertain others. The students will gladly rehearse  the jokes, articles, or stories.

  3. Some experts advocate 15- 30 min. of each day reading books of his/her own choice maintaining it as an essential component of reading instruction-SSR reading. Conversations during this time is a way of extending students’ thinking  and monitoring student involvement. a  time to scaffold silent reading.

  4. Vygotsky (1978) maintained that children speak out loud as they think. For them, talk is essential to thought and action until they eventually develop “inner speech”. It is common for first graders to subvocalize; pair reading replaces subvocalizing.

  5. Repeated reading is a technique for increasing fluency.`

Readers’ Theater Plays
Research on It’s Importance
Process Drama : Taking a walk in someone else’s shoes can contextualize even science classes.
Author & Educational Drama Specialist Rosalind Flynn “The ‘doing’ of Learning”

Creating Drama with 7-11 Year Olds Lesson ideas to integrate drama

A Dozen Read-Thoughs and Still Going  Strong: Fluency & Content Knowledge
Reader’s Theater Samples
Mother Goose Readers Theatre for Beginning Readers/ Anthony D Fredericks
Readers Theater All Year Round
Timeless Teacher Stuff 
Printable Reader’s Theater Scripts & Plays EdHelper scroll down countless themes  
Readers Theatre Scripts Dr. Young’s 2nd Gr. 
       The list is in alphabetical order.
The numbers represent the number of parts in the script.
Readers Theatre Third Grade/Fiction Teacher 
ArtReach Children’s Theatre Plays/ List of All Plays & Scripts and Musicals
Reader's Theatre - Ms. Appleyard's Fifth Grade
Reader’s Theater Scripts and Plays for Classroom/Teaching Heart/Teaching Heart


Bringing Science to Life with Readers Theater by Melissa Stewart
Reader's Theatre- Aaron Shephard 9/06
RTScripting Sheets by Aaron Shephard
Creative Drama Lesson Plans
Skits, Plays, & Scripts/ Annette Lamb & Larry Johnson -mother of all theater sites
Readers’ Theater: Fairy Tales/Ugly Duckling, Henny Penny... with masks  3  to 4th , Three Little Pigs, The Princess and the Pea, Puss in Boots, Jack and the Beanstalk, Thumbelina, King’s New Clothes/Teacher’s Creative Resource

The Three Little Wolves & the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas

Mrs. Bonzer’s Readers’ Theater Sripts
Three Billy Goat Gruff
Three Billy Goats Gruff Reader’s Theater Script:
The Three Billy-Goats Gruff storywritten by Galdone 6 parts Number of Characters: 4 plus a narrator.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff script and much more at pppst.com
Gingerbread Boy
Gingerbread Boy
 Great Big Enormous Turnip
Mice Stories
The Adventures of Mouse Deer/Aaron Shepherd
Winter Dramatic Play

Little Red   Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood/Reader's Theater
More Classic Stories
Monkey and  the CrocodileKIDSINCO.
Ant and the Grasshopper

Several Stories: Brave Irene; Clack, Clack Moo Cows that Type;  Little Red Hen,  Three Little Wolves & Big Bad Pig;   Miss Nelson Is Missing
Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons/Book by Tome de Paola

Kevin Henkes
Jessica by Kevin Henkes
Owen by Kevin Henkes

Three Little Pigs
Storynory/Three Little Pigs
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka/Timeless Teachers
Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons/ Improve fluency, voc....Lisa Zamosky
Night Before Christmas Reader’s Theater Exc. #24
Brave Irene/Steig
Rumplestiltskin’s:Kids’ Wings 
Where the Wild Things Are
Chalk Talk: K Blog/Reader’s Theater
Readers Theatre With Jan BrettRead Write Think

Reader’s Theater

Readers Theater & the “Flip”-now the RCA -

and some iPhones

  1. -also supports

  2. fluency and comprehension

  1. Video taping via the “Flip” or “RCA Small Wonder” serve the same purpose .

  2. When dramatizing a story, simple props along with wearing a tag of the character or a mask etc. helps younger children better visualize and follow the story line. But props aren’t necessary.


Dramatizing /Readers Theater   Encourages Fluency

Tips: Each narrative lends itself to some type of dramatic presentation.  If there is a lot of dialogue,  the reading group can be sub divided  so that there is a part for every child including story teller/ narrator. The sub groups simultaneously read the section in their own sub group. If the children sit on the rug in the reading center and close their reading circle, voices will be contained. 

For variation the children can sit on chairs in the reading area. If there are four characters, you can keep assigning character 1,2,3,4, and the story teller /narrator until the children all have a part. Pre-assign the section they will read to giving the section a number. The next set of children will continue where the previous set left off.  With this option we have an audience.

Occasionally the children can be asked to act out their  parts as they ad lib what they remember. Props aren’t needed but sometimes if they are handy, they will liven up the presentation.  Sometimes the students  spontaneously take something in the room as a prop. As the dramatization takes place, the  “audience,” on their own, may decide to follow in their text and sometimes give prompts. A few suggestions can be given to start them off but their ideas are very creative .


Occasionally, if the story lends itself to a full dramatization. Masks can be made; other times just letter the characters’ names  on 2 cards and  hang the cards over the students’ shoulders with string, yarn or just pin/tape the titled card to the actors.  Occasionally the story can be retyped  as a play and run off for the students to take home and practice reading their parts. (Some plays are in a format that can be run off in lieu of typing the entire play.)

Knowing that there will be some type of dramatic activity following a story, children become very attentive to sequence and details especially characterization.

Dramatizing is fun and makes stories come alive;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 it’s a great way for children to become aware of the story structure;  a good comprehension check; encourages higher order thinking skills; viz. visualizing and analyzing; it is a means of interacting and learning from each other, plus the movement is just what  the “doctor” prescribes. Besides  releasing energy, children need to move in order to learn. As was  stated above: exercise is "Miracle-Gro for the Brain"

Creative drama is a very useful  with ESL students.

I often recorded performances with my camcorder. That puts the students at their best behavior. I  sometimes took the tape, burned it into a CD/DVD, and send it home. Mac’s  Keynote program is great tool to incorporate a variety of activities, oral and written. You can include written stories, choral reading of poetry, reading silently, dramatizations - anything that reflects their work in the language arts area, can be included in the Keynote document. Burning the culminating activity into a CD/DVD and sending it  home is a great way to show parents/caregivers an inside view of learning in progress.

At the end of guided reading and discussion, regardless of genre,  students can be paired off to read to each other. They take turns reading, usually a page at a time. With their “whispering” voices just loud enough for their partner to hear, it is easy to notice if anyone is having a problem.

First Graders Dramatizing Emily & Alice

Put Fluency in the Passenger Seat and Let Comprehension Take the Wheel!  Barclay Marcell

  1. Texts to Promote Fluent Reading   A. Thoermer and L. Williams

  1. Move Your Body, Grow Your Brain 3/12/14

  2.   John Dewey in Experience & Education p.61 states “,,,the external and physical side of activity cannot be separated from the internal side of activity; from freedom of thought, desire, and purpose. The limitation that was put upon outward action by the fixed arrangements of the typical traditional schoolroom, with its fixed rows and desks and its military regimen of pupils who were permitted to move only at certain fixed signals, put a great restriction upon intellectual and moral freedom. ..”

  3. Incorporating movement with fluency instruction for struggling readers by Jodi L. Peebles

Incorporating movement into fluency instruction enhances the brain’s capacity to learn and also holds the motivational appeal to endure intensive and extensive repeated reading methods. Activities such as Readers Theatre and the Rhythm Walk or-

chestrate the essential elements of fluency instruction while providing the motivational incentive for students who would rather move about than sit at a desk and reread passages. One of my struggling students once created his own variation of the

Rhythm Walk by pacing at the back of the classroom during independent reading time. I have witnessed in my literacy instruction that movement holds the key to connecting struggling students to the art of reading fluently and motivating them to read over and over again. So my message is simple—get up and move.” by Peebles

Like "Miracle-Gro for the Brain"

Exercise may have both a physiological and developmental impact on children's brains. Physical mechanisms include:

  1. Increased oxygen to the brain that may enhance its ability to learn

  2. Alterations to neurotransmitters

  3. Structural changes in the central nervous system

  4. The Role of Pretend Play in Children's Cognitive Development.

  5. Children's Play: The Roots of Reading

Zigler, Edward F., Ed.; Zigler, Dorothy G., Ed.; Bishop-Josef, Sandra J., Ed.

  1. Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul

  2. Important New Findings Self-Regulation and Pretend Play Link to Learning in Young Children. ...research now shows that pretend play is not something children do just to have fun or pass the time, but is the foundation for future learning...”

  3. “Doing” Literature: Using Drama to Build” McMaster

  4. Creative Movement DLTK

The Lost Joy of of Putting On a Play: What Children Miss in a “No Excuses” World


How many elementary school plays do children get to perform in? Do schools have time for plays anymore? Do children ever get to act out dramatically?

Drama can’t be tested. So plays might become a burden for teachers forced to worry about school accountability.

Since NCLB, and no excuses for poor test scores, became popular, putting on plays for most schools went the way of the dinosaur. With the increase of competency-based learning (computer learning), who has time for plays?

That’s unfortunate because plays teach children many skills, and they should be offered in the free curriculum of a public school.

Children have to participate in outside theater groups if they want to participate in a play. Children whose parents are not able to take them to such programs, or can’t afford the program, are out of luck.

Busy parents might not know their child would like performing, and some children might not know it themselves—if they are never given the chance to perform.

Rest assured, there are nonprofits and for-profits who will likely push themselves into public schools to organize plays after school or during the summer. There’s money to be made in a switch to partnerships and privatization.

But elementary schools should not require such outside groups to put on plays that are good for children.

Here are some of the benefits children get by putting on plays in elementary school. Plays do the following:

  1. Help children socialize.

  2. Teach discipline.

  3. Help children learn to depend on each other.

  4. Provide an outlet for children with disabilities.

  5. Highlight teamwork.

  6. Help children with body movement.

  7. Provide good literature.

  8. Tap into a child’s imagination.

  9. Build self-confidence.

  10. Involve costume-making.

  11. Can be a form of therapy.

  12. Teach comprehension and vocabulary.

  13. Help children overcome their fear of speaking.

  14. Develop speaking skills.

  15. Welcome parents to school.

  16. Show off a child’s talents.

  17. Generate school pride.

  18. Teach organization skills.

  19. Show the parts coming together to create the whole.

  20. Involve artwork for scenes and props.

  21. Deal with math skills for making scenes and props.

  22. Involve music.

  23. Bring the community together.

  24. Positively highlight reading and language.

  25. Address memory.

  26. Help make future actors.

  27. Are a welcome change from the usual routine.

  28. Make everyone happy.

  29. Bring children together culturally.

  30. Involve inclusion.

Most children like to be a part of a play. They work on this because they enjoy it.

I was fortunate to attend an elementary school that put on two plays a year. The best takeaway I got from participating in those plays involve wonderful memories that still enrich my life decades later.

What memories will children get to recall later in their lives—test score results?

First Graders Choral

Reading about Bugs

  1. Guided Reading, Choral Reading, Reader’s Theater

  2. Using Poetry to Teach Reading: Rhythm, Rhyme, and Choral Reading

  3. Five Poetry Teaching Tips for New Teachers

  4. 10 Ways to Use Poetry in Your Classroom

  5. To Pumpkins at lPumpkin Time Poem Choral Reading Video

Types of plays:

Dramatic play: acting out a story which supports /reinforces recall, sequence of story, and vocabulary

Socio-dramatic play: Spontaneously acting out of situation or event. It encourages language development, creativity, rules, roles, flexibility, self-control, and perspective

  1. Additional Raps, Songs,and Poems 

the Parts of Speech song, science, math, and social studies.


The Lost Joy of of Putting On a Play: What Children Miss in a “No Excuses” World 10/27/17 By Nancy Bailey

“Here are some of the benefits children get by putting on plays in elementary school. Plays do the following:

  1. Help children socialize.

  2. Teach discipline.

  3. Help children learn to depend on each other.

  4. Provide an outlet for children with disabilities.

  5. Highlight teamwork.

  6. Help children with body movement.

  7. Provide good literature.

  8. Tap into a child’s imagination.

  9. Build self-confidence.

  10. Involve costume-making.

  11. Can be a form of therapy.

  12. Teach comprehension and vocabulary.

  13. Help children overcome their fear of speaking.

  14. Develop speaking skills.

  15. Welcome parents to school.

  16. Show off a child’s talents.

  17. Generate school pride.

  18. Teach organization skills.

  19. Show the parts coming together to create the whole.

  20. Involve artwork for scenes and props.

  21. Deal with math skills for making scenes and props.

  22. Involve music.

  23. Bring the community together.

  24. Positively highlight reading and language.

  25. Address memory.

  26. Help make future actors.

  27. Are a welcome change from the usual routine.

  28. Make everyone happy.

  29. Bring children together culturally.

  30. Involve inclusion.

Dramatizing the Story of Emily & Alice

Literacy Props

  1. Reader’s Theater Masks/Have Fun Teaching

  2. Story Props for many stories

  3. Printable Masks for Kids /Google

Jan Brett

  1. Animals of Town Mouse Country Mouse/Masks

  2. Animals of Town Mouse Country Mouse/Finger Puppets by Jan Brett

  3. The Hat/Jan Brett

  4. The Mitten/Classroom Ideas and More/ Teaching of the Heart


  1. Very Hungry Caterpillar DLTK

  2. Five Green Speckled FrogsDLTK

  3. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You See?DLTK

  1. Finger Puppet Patterns Billy Bear 4 Kids

  1. Three Little Pigs by David Wiesner/Packed with activities

                                Laura Smolkin

  1. The Three Little Pigs /Activity Cards by Laura Smolkin

  1. Three Billy Goats Gruff  Power Point Presentation etc.

  1. Three billy Goats Gruff /Activity Cards by Laura Smolkin

  2. The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf at pppst.com

  1. Gingerbread Man /Activity Cards by Laura Smolkin


Evaluating Reader’s Theater

  1. Readers’ Theater Evaluation

- a few min. wait


        Fluency Sites: 

Music helps develop fluency.

  1. Improving Fluency in Young Readers Busy Teacher Cafe

  2. Reading Fluency /LD /Online/Mather & Goldstein (2001)

  3. Reading fluency, assessment and instruction: What, why and how? by Roxanne. Hudson, Holly Lane, and Paige Pullen  May 2005 Reading Teacher

  4. Oral Fluency Assessment

  5. DRA Goals and Reading Recovery- scroll down for fluency info

  6. Guide for fluency:

Gr. 1  20-40 correct words per min.

Gr. 2  70-90

Gr. 3 135-155 wpm

Made on a Mac

Up Dated11/12//18

Constructed by Mary DeFalco

Drama in the Classroom

  1. -Stimulates the imagination, enhances language learning, and deepened

  2. -understanding