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Lesson Plan

Readers Theatre With Jan Brett

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Readers Theatre With Jan Brett

Grades 1 – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Kary A. Johnson

Fort Worth, Texas


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students in grades 1–2 interact with the book Hedgie's Surprise by Jan Brett and create a Readers Theatre that is performed for an audience. Students make predictions about the story prior to reading and listen to a read-aloud of the story. Postreading, they make observations about the characters, setting, and plot. The focus on the literary elements of the story leads students to create costumes, props, and sets for the final Readers Theatre performance. Although Readers Theatre does not typically employ such devices, the use of costumes and sets affords early elementary students a better understanding of the story.

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Readers Theatre script for Hedgie’s Surprise: The sample script for Hedgie’s Surprise provided with this lesson can be used for the Readers Theatre or as a model for students to write their own script.

Aaron Shepard’s RT page: For helpful tips on conducting Readers Theatre and some additional sample scripts, see Aaron Shepard's RT page.

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Gambrell, L.B., Morrow, L.M., & Pennington, C. (2002). Early childhood and elementary literature-based instruction: Current perspectives and special issues. Reading Online, 5(6). Available: http://www.readingonline.org/articles/art_index.asp?HREF=handbook/gambrell/index.html

  • Literature-based instruction provides authentic learning experiences and activities by using high-quality literature to teach and foster literacy development.

  • A guiding principle of the literature-based perspective is that literacy acquisition occurs in a book-rich context where there is an abundance of purposeful communication and meaning is socially constructed (Cullinan, 1987).

  • Student participation in storybook readings (e.g., a Readers Theatre performance) increases comprehension and the sense of story structure, thereby enabling students to more thoroughly integrate the information.


Carrick, L. (2001). Internet resources for conducting Readers Theatre. Reading Online, 5(1). Available: http://www.readingonline.org/electronic/carrick/

  • The element of drama enables students to realize that reading is an activity that permits experimentation-they can try reading words in different ways to produce different meanings. As they practice their roles, readers are also given the opportunity to reflect on the text and to evaluate and revise how they interact with it.

  • Educators have long elaborated on the benefits of using Readers Theatre and related strategies for increasing reading fluency and sight-word vocabulary, improving reading comprehension, providing opportunities to interpret dialogue and communicate meaning, and increasing awareness and appreciation of plays as a form of literature.


Cullinan, B.E. (1987). Children's literature in the reading program. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

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