Friday, April 10, 2009

Reader's Theater - An Easter Activity For Children

I was looking for ways to give our school work an Easter theme this week. One idea that I half stumbled on, and half pieced together, seems to be working especially well. Since it has a lot of potential for modification for any age - as long as they can read, I thought I'd pass it along.

This year for Easter, my older three children will perform a reader's theater for the rest of the family. There are a multitude of great puppet plays, dramas, poems and songs (both religious and secular), that could be adapted to this purpose. Reader's theater is perfect for homeschoolers (and the disorganized mothers like me, who prepare for a theme unit the night before), because it does not require costumes, sets, props, or time to memorize lines, and yet it provides a real taste of drama. The readers must convey the action and emotion through there voices, or small gestures. It's also a lot of fun.

We chose a poem entitled "Easter Chant", by Don Stott, that we found at . A quick search for Easter plays, poems or reader's theatre will provide you with an abundance of material. The children will sit side by side on kitchen stools, and read off of the printed page. This is how they chose to divide the poem - which they decided sounds a little rap like.

All Voices Together: Hosanna! Hosanna!

Voice One: Hear the people cry.
Riding on a donkey
The King is passing by.
Riding to Jerusalem
Wave those palms and cheer -
Jesus the Messiah
The "promised one" is here.

All Voices Together: Crucify! Crucify!

Voice Two: Hear the people shout!
Tell governor Pilate
To bring Jesus out.

All Voices Together: Crucify! Crucify!

Voice Two: Hear the people cry -
"He claimed to be our king,
Now he must die!"

All Voice Together: "Forgive them! Forgive them!"

Voice Three: They don't know what they do
I'm willing to die
On this cross for you.
I'm your king, Lord, Messiah.
It is finished! I cry -
For your sins to be forgiven
God's Son must die"

All Voices Together: He's risen! He's risen!

Voice One: See the joy on Mary's face.
She came to the tomb
And now she must race
To tell the disciples -
"We don't need to fear,
Jesus has been raised to life.

All Voices Together: He's alive! He's here!

Again, the poem is by Don Stott, but the children broke it apart, and will add the drama and inflection to transform it into a dramatic performance. They took to it with a surprising amount of delight. Usually, when I introduce something new they cringe or whine. Maybe after the science lessons of the last couple of weeks, they're happy to be exercising the right side of their brains. Whatever the reason, I can see this growing into a real Easter tradition for us. Maybe as they get a little older, they'll even write their own material. Or maybe, that's just a mother dreaming.

Either way, it's great to be a homeschooler.

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