Sharing Literature with Improvisation and Readers Theatre: A Session with Nancy Polette

1.Warm Up: Coming To the Party
Each person introduces herself as a book character and tells what she is bringing to the party.
EX: My name is Mary Poppins and I am bringing marmalade and pears.

2. Pantomime
Players take the parts of famous people, give their initials, and using a large trash bag, pantomime an object associated with the person.

3. Rhythm Reading
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider
And sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away
With time to give thought
And to do what she ought
Miss Muffet returned that same day
Though she would grow thinner
She picked up her dinner
And buried the spider in whey
From: Flying with Mother Goose by N. Polette

4. Elaborate on Poems or Stories
Herman found a big dead bug
Sister put it in the trash
But before the trash is burned
Herman wants his bug returned

5. Use Rhythm Reading for Biography!
Mary Harris Jones from The Fighter Wore A Skirt by Nancy Polette. Pieces of Learning, 2002 or The Microscope by Maxine Kumin, Harper, 1992.

6. Two Word Story
Players tell a tall tale or fairy tale two words at a time. Begin with: There was one a princess called Princess Pruneface because she never smiled.

7. The Start and the Finish
Each team receives a strip of paper with a beginning, middle and ending sentence. The teams have one minute to think of scene that will fit the sentences. Each team tells its scene. From: Audubon: Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier by Jennifer Armstrong. Abrams, 2003
1. He saw the ice covered with immense flocks of trumpeter swans.
2. But what was that slipping in and out of the shadows?
3. He could not wait to paint what he had seen!
Concert Reading: Read aloud the actual scene from the book with appropriate background music.

8. Quotation Story
Players tell a story two sentences at a time. One sentence must include the title of a Newbery or Caldecott winner, a line from a poem, a song title or a famous quotation.
Begin: There was once a judge who thought he could solve any problem in the world until…

9. ABC Fairy Tale
Players retell a familiar tale one sentence at a time. Each sentence must begin with a word that starts with the letter after the first word in the previous player’s sentence.

10. Excuses
Choose 6-8 words and use in an excuse
Why did your expedition fail to reach the South Pole?
-Antarctic –blizzard —earthquake
-eclipse –compass —fossil
-glacier –precipice —resources
Why did you miss school today?
-antibiotic –artery —blood type
-biceps –nerves —disinfectant
-cardiac –epidermis —metabolism

Resources available from:
Pieces of Learning
1990 Market Rd.
Marion, ILL 62959
Books by Nancy Polette
Playwright Gr 3-8
Best of Nancy Polette Gr 1-8
Point of View Fairy Tales to Perform Gr 2-6
Flying with Mother Goose: Picture book
Fighter Wore A Skirt Gr 4-8
Historical Hoaxes to Research and Perform Gr 4-8

11. THE MAGICIAN’S HELPER adapted by Nancy Polette

A play to write and read. Each writing group should read the play through before writing its part. The group chooses someone to read what was written when that part of the play is reached.

MOTHER: My son Fritz is always causing trouble.

WRITER 1: Tell all of the ways a curious boy can get into trouble.

MOTHER: It is time you left home to make your own living.

FRITZ: Look at this long list of jobs. Let’s see if I can find one I like.

WRITER 2: List all of the jobs that Fritz sees on the list.

FRITZ: I will be a magician’s helper. That will be fun.

WRITER 3: List what a magician’s helper would do.

NARRATOR: Fritz went to the castle of the magician and became his helper.

FRITZ: I did not know I would have to carry water up these steps every day. This is a hard job.

MAGICIAN: I have to leave for a short time. Get more water from the well and do not touch any of my things.

FRITZ: He is gone. I will pick up the wand, wave it, and say magic words so the broom will carry the water for me.

NARRATOR: Fritz waved the magician’s wand and said the magic words he had heard the magician say.

WRITER 4: Write the magic words.

FRITZ: Stop, broom! That is too much water. Stop or I will take an ax and cut you into pieces.

NARRATOR: The broom did not stop so Fritz took an ax and cut it into pieces.

FRITZ: Oh, look! Each piece grows into a new broom. Now many brooms are carrying water.

WRITER 5: Tell what the workshop looks like with water everywhere.

NARRATOR: Before long the magician returned and found his workshop full of water.

MAGICIAN: Water here, water, there, water, water everywhere. Did you do this, Fritz?

FRITZ: Yes, Sir. I put a spell on the broom but did not know how to turn it off. Shall I leave now?

MAGICIAN: You may stay but first you must…

WRITER 6: Tell what Fritz must do for the magician.

ENTIRE CAST: And from that day on Fritz learned only to look but NEVER TOUCH!

12. Readers Theatre Booktalks
Study the sample booktalk that follows to see how it is turned into a readers theatre script.
The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner by Walter Dean Myers. Harper, Collins, 1992
N1 = Narrator One; N2 = Narrator Two; A = Artemis; C = Catfish

(N1) In 1880 two important events took place. (C) Catfish Grimes (N2) shot dead Ugly Ned Bonner, (N1) Uncle to Artemis Bonner and Artemis (A) headed west to avenge Uncle Ugly’s death and find the gold mine (N1) left to him in his Uncle’s will. (N2) Catfish Grimes (C) is determined not to be caught. (N2) He would also like (C) to find the gold mine before Artemis does. (N1) But Artemis (A) has the strength of TRUE DETERMINATION! (N1) He tracks Catfish (A) from Mexico to Alaska and back again. (N2) Finally they meet in a shootout in front of the Bird Cage Saloon. Catfish yelled, (C) “When I count three, go for your gun”. (N1) No sooner had he shouted “One”, (N2) than both Catfish and Artemis drew. (N1) Read The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner (N1 & N2) to discover the exciting finish to this romp through the Old West.

About Your Workshop Leader
Nancy Polette is Professor of Education at Lindenwood University and former director of the Laboratory School. She is the author of 150+ professional books and six children’s books. She travels the U.S and Canada at the invitation of schools and school districts providing training in what research says works in reading, writing and research K-8.