Written by Marlis Kraft-Zemel, CPS Music Teacher
Reader’s Theater is a perfect project for second graders! Proud of their reading skills, they can be narrators, while other children fill in the story with imagery and music, or in our case puppets — a great first step to “being on stage” without having to act.
The story was chosen to go with their study of Greece where to this day sheep graze in the rural landscape. Students expanded their vocabulary, learned about sheep and shepherds, and trades like carpentry, blacksmithing, pottery and weaving from YouTube clips. They sketched characters to make puppets and painted the backdrop with Ms. Jakab. They also identified places in the story where sound effects would enhance the telling and brainstormed the lyrics for our song based on one girl’s wistful singing of: “If I could be a carpenter….”
I saw such growth in their awareness and perseverance needed to put on this kind of play. Many layers of the curriculum came together along with the challenge to closely follow a text read aloud by a classmate. Everything hinges on the ability to focus and to work together as a team: when to bring the puppet up, ring the gong, hold up the screen, go to the next assignment, keep eyes open for the unexpected need of a classmate! And as their teacher Ms. Bechill summed up: “This second grade class totally loved it!!! And they learned some important lessons about working together and taking pride in something they do as a group.”
Bravo to the 2nd graders and thanks to Ms. Bechill and Ms. Jakab for their support!