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1st & 2nd Grade Friendly Reader’s Theater Scripts

Fluency, Phonics, Tips & Hacks

Written by: Katie Palmer

Are you or your students feeling restless or bored of the same old phonics routine, but you fear skills will be lost if you try something new? We've got good news for you! There is a new phonics routine that practices phonics, decoding, fluency and even comprehension! Added bonus: this routine is easy to manage and implement right away in your classroom! What is the magical idea? Decodable reader's theater plays! Let's take a closer look at how and when to use decodable paired plays in your classroom.

Take me to the Paired Plays

Reader's Theater Hack: Paired Plays

If you have done larger group reader's theater plays before, you may be hesitant to want to manage that process again. Often, reader's theater scripts have five or six students involved. Students then argue, forget to read their line, lose their place, etc. The answer to all of these struggles? Partner students up with a script they can decode! We call these partner scripts, paired plays.

a pair of students reading a paired play reader's theater script

Perks of Paired Plays:

  • Only two students work together, less cooperation issues.
  • Each student gets to practice decoding an equal amount.
  • These scripts are decodable and specific sound focused.
  • Pair great with any phonics curriculum. (There is a paired play for every sound!)

Paired Plays Routine

How can teachers successfully use paired plays in their classroom? Here is a five day, ten minute a day routine that works.

Day One

Assign partners and pass out scripts. Students should practice reading the sound words on the cover page. For added fluency practice, have students time their partner reading the sound words.

A student reading a phonics focused word list in preparation for their paired play

Day Two

Students read the script independently, decoding as they go. They will also highlight their lines at this point.

A pair of students highlighting their phonics decodable reader's theater scripts

Then, have students complete the character cuff. (They will save this cuff to wear during the performance on day five.)

Students working on a phonics based character cuff bracelet that aligns with a decodable paired plays script

Day Three

This is the first day they will practice reading their lines together. During the ten minutes they can read it more than once. Before they meet with their partner, teach a mini lesson on using expression when reading aloud.

A pair of students practice their decodable phonics partner play

Day Four

On day four, students need to get up out of their seats and talk about the movements they will do while they “perform” their script for the class. If there is extra time, they can draw a backdrop or create small paper props.

a pair of students creating paper backdrops and props for their partner play

Day Five

This is the big performance day! Student pairs take turns expressively reading their scripts to the class. (They should wear their character cuffs, too!) To make for more engaging performances, assign a different paired play to each partner pair. (Note: be sure to only use plays featuring sounds you have covered in class to keep the scripts decodable.) When the day is done, have them wear their character cuffs home. They will show their word decoding skills and naturally discuss their reader's theater experience with this school to home connection opportunity!

a pair of students reading their decodable phonics partner play

Additional idea: invite other classes or parents to watch their young performers shine.

When to use Paired Plays?

You have your paired plays routine down, now when should you use them? I have used paired plays in my classroom the following ways:

  • As an end of unit celebration: use the sounds covered in your reading curriculum from an entire unit.
  • End of year plays showcase: invite other classes, parents or admin to see students successfully decode and read fluently and expressively.
  • Small group reading: In the beginning of the year, assign paired plays to your high flyers using the above routine. Or, use a paired play with a lower reading group that needs review.
A teacher holding up a sampling of the options from the phonics paired play collection

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Get a Closer Look

Want to know a bit more about using paired plays in your classroom? Let Katie from our team give you the run down.

Additional Phonics Routine Ideas

Check out this collection of blog posts to make teaching phonics even easier.

A Weekly Routine to Build Fluency Using Phonics Poems

Multi Sensory Phonics Activities

The Perfect Routine to Jumpstart Explicit Phonics Lessons

Do you use reader's theater?

Do you already use reader's theater in your classroom? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments.

Happy teaching!

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