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How to Act Out a Story
|Grades||K – 3|
|Tip Topic||Tips for Reading To or With Kids
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Why Use This Tip
Do you like to ham it up when you read a story aloud to a child? If so, you might want to take the next step and act out a story. Portraying a character in a beloved book will help a child make a more personal connection to that character and the choices the character makes. Acting out a story also will help the child remember what happened in the story—another way to improve reading comprehension.
- Select a book that you think would work well. Choose one with characters that have strong personalities and clear roles in the story. You might want to choose a story or even a nursery rhyme that the child already knows. Tell the child you’ll be acting out the story or poem. Then read it aloud together.
- Talk a little bit about what happens in the story: What is the problem? How it is solved? Ask the child where the story takes place and who the main characters are. What happens at the beginning of the story? The middle? The end?
- Let the child know this activity is purely for fun and that he or she won’t have to memorize any lines. Let younger children do the best they can acting out the story by just choosing a character and recalling the lines of dialogue from the story.
Work with older children to write a simple script that will help them remember their lines. The script can show exactly what the character will say or can just offer a prompt, for example: Little Red Riding Hood asks about the Wolf’s ears.
You don’t have to act out the entire story but can pick a short section that lends itself well to this activity. For instance, in the Three Little Pigs, the “I’ll-huff-and-I’ll puff” part would be a natural choice.
- Let the child gather props and think about scenery. Clothes and other accessories may be enough. Or the child might be inspired to make a project out of it and make masks or other costumes.
Here’s a simple scenery trick: Go on location. For instance, if the story is set in the woods, go outside or move your play to a nearby park.
- Ask the child to switch roles to explore how different characters react to the same events. A child who plays the Big Bad Wolf will have to think about what’s on the wolf’s devious mind. By switching to Little Red Riding Hood, he or she will see that Little Red’s thoughts and feelings are altogether different!
After the performance, talk about what it was like to be a particular character. Ask the child: What do you think your character was thinking when that happened? What do you think the character will do next?
- If the child likes acting out stories, choose one with multiple characters and invite siblings or friends to join the cast. Do the children want to make tickets for the show? All that’s left is to round up some audience members and lift the curtain on your homegrown production.