Read-aloud plays represent a great way to teach reading fluency, comprehension, and content (especially history). Because students are willing to read a play repetitively, they work towards mastery in a natural way. For more on using plays in the classroom, download our free guide, “Why Use Drama?” You can also listen to my podcasted interview on the International Society for Technology in Education’s blog, Literacy Special Interest, by clicking here.
My read-aloud plays have become mainstays in Scholastic classroom magazines. My first, an adaption of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, appeared in the December 1998 issue of Storyworks. Today I have dozens of plays in print. Some are available only to Scope and Storyworks subscribers, others are available in either of two collections, and many are available through TeachersPayTeachers. Read on for more info about availability. You never know, there may even be a freebie or two hidden among the others.
This collection from Scholastic includes 8 literacy-boosting plays based on such classic short stories as Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki Tikki Tavi, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, and Gogol’s The Nose. Each has been carefully adapted for the 4th through 8th grade classroom, and each comes with comprehension questions and discussion points embedded in the scripts themselves. Fully reproducible! A great way to introduce your students to such literature masters as Irving, Maupassant, and Dickens! Click on the title to go to Scholastic’s Teacher Express site to download or order a hard copy. You can also order it from Scholastic, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
This collection of ten “patriotic” plays celebrates important events, symbols, and holidays in American History. Students debate the origins of the American flag in Betsy Ross: Fact or Fiction, learn why the Liberty Bell was hidden in a church basement in A Bell for the Statehouse, and discover the tribulations of the presidency in A President’s Day Dream. Includes plays about Mount Rushmore, the White House, MLK’s childhood, the Star-Spangled Banner, Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, and more. Just click on the cover for more information or to purchase and immediately download.
What would you do with three wishes? Readers of The Monkey’s Paw learn that those who meddle with fate do so at their own peril! This adaptation of W.W. Jacobs’s gothic masterpiece is perfect for fourth through eighth graders. It was originally published in the April 23rd, 2012, issue of Scholastic’s Scope magazine. Teachers can use it as fluency-building reader’s theater or as as a full production or podcast. It’s twenty-minutes long, includes six pages, and has parts for up to eleven students. It’s now available at our storefront on TeachersPayTeachers. The original purchaser is licensed to reproduce one class set per year. Still not convinced? View a video of the play being enacted by 5th graders. Weak sound, poor lighting, and beginning actors, but a compelling story. Check it out at my public school site, The Daily Platypus!
“Mack Lewis, one of our favorite Scope playwrights, has hit just the right note with his adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’–somewhere between totally disturbing and totally delightful.” — Scope editor Kristin Lewis
This creepy re-telling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic gothic tale has appeared in Storyworks, Scholastic News, and Scope (though each is slightly different to reflect the given age group) . It’s also included in Read-Aloud Plays: Classic Short Stories (see above), but it can be purchased individually here.
“My seventh graders really enjoyed this script and had fun with the presentation. They could see the connection to the original Edgar Allan Poe story and had an excellent group discussion. Thanks!” — Amy M.
My most popular item! This play has frequently appeared on TeachersPayTeachers‘ best-seller list. It’s a fun, modernized version of Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart. Produce both plays for an interesting compare and contrast activity. You can also include the original text and a mock trial activity for even more depth by clicking here.
Worked to the Bone
Mack’s readers theater play about photographer Lewis Hine is featured in the October 31st, 2010, edition of Scholastic’s Scope magazine. The play explores child labor in the early 1900′s by following a pair of siblings–Martha and Leo–into the textile mill where they worked twelves hours a day or more. Hine’s photographs depicting the dangerous conditions in which children worked eventually led to legislation, including the Fair Labor Standards Act. You can check out the play and related teacher materials and lesson plans at Scope’s website by clicking here. For a free trial to Scope, Scholastic’s classroom magazine for grades 6 through 8, click here. For more on Lewis Hine and his crusade against child labor visit The History Place or The Lewis Hine Project.
“Fantastic for the classroom or church setting.” — Whitaker
My best-selling Civil Rights play! Based on real events, We Shall Overcome tells the story of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham Children’s Crusade, the 1963 march in which authorities used fire hoses and police dogs to suppress crowds of students. This six page, twenty minute classroom play script is suitable for reader’s theater or stage performance, and can be adapted to include music from the Crusade. From eight to fifteen parts, including Addie Mae Moore (the heroine), News Reporters, and Dr. King. Use it with students in grades 4 through 8 to improve fluency, build comprehension, and inspire interest in Civil Rights.
Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month with this teacher-written, kid-tested play from Scholastic’s Storyworks magazine. It’s based on the 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs, the event where Martin Luther King delivered his history-changing “I Have a Dream” speech. Originally published in the Feb. 2010 issue of Storyworks, this original Civil Rights play is suitable for reader’s theater or stage performance. It includes parts for eleven actors. Use it with students in grades 4 through 8 to improve fluency, build comprehension, and inspire interest in American History. For a free teacher’s guide click here.
Historically accurate, carefully researched, and kid-friendly! Based on real events, Box Brown’s Freedom Crate tells the story of Henry Brown, a slave in 1848 Virginia. When Henry’s wife and children are sold away, Henry devises a plan to mail himself to the North in a wooden crate. With help from members of the Underground Railway and Philadelphia’s Ant-Slavery Society, Henry defies death as his crate is tossed from one train to the next. The play was originally published in the Feb/Mar 2001 issue of Storyworks, and it’s based on Brown’s own slave narrative, The Narrative of the Life of Henry “Box” Brown. It’s also the subject of a picture book, Henry’s Freedom Box (Scholastic, 2007), which can be useful as an interesting compare and contrast activity. This seven page, twenty minute classroom play script is well-suited to reader’s theater, or decorate a cardboard box and stage a poignant yet laugh-out-loud yet poignant stage production. Includes parts for eight to twenty students, depending upon casting needs. Use it with students in grades 3 through 10 to improve fluency, build comprehension, and meet the Common Core Standards. Fully reproducible: the original purchaser is licensed to reproduce one classroom set per year. Click on the cover to preview or purchase at TeachersPayTeachers.
There are many great sites dedicated to Henry Brown’s original slave narrative. Dickinson University offers lessons plans centered around a virtual field trip through Brown’s life and times. They also provide a “virtual book.” You turn the original pages and read the original text from William Still’s book, The Undergound Rail Road . . . it’s just all digital! To see and read the original text from The Narrative of the Life of Henry “Box” Brown, follow this link to Documenting the American South. And finally, visit my podcast page to hear actual students performing the play.
Check Back for More Titles
We’re slowly rebuilding our web site, so please check back for more information on such plays as Freedom for the First Time, Sitting Down for Dr. King, The Secret Soldier, and many others … including those freebies. In the meantime, visit my store at TeachersPayTeachers for access to nearly all my professionally-published Read Aloud Plays. Thanks!