Add some excitement to your space unit with this solar system reader’s theater script!
Years ago when I first started teaching third grade, I wanted to integrate more reading into my science lessons.
There were lots of non-fiction children’s books available, but I wanted something that would deeply engage my students, most of whom were second language learners.
From that need, this solar system reader’s theater script was born! It’s an original short play that has been a hit with second and third-graders!
I’m sure your kiddos will love it, too!
This post details the contents contained in this solar system reader’s theater script packet.
- Reading Comprehension Questions
- Matching Activity
- Vocabulary Graphic Organizer
- Solar System Task Cards
- Answer Keys
Solar System Reader’s Theater Script: Background Information
This solar system reader’s theater script is a short play that focuses on vocal rather than visual expression.
One of the great things about readers’ theaters is that there’s no need for students to memorize lines or create fancy costumes.
The focus is on helping students gain reading fluency, accuracy, and expression while deepening comprehension about specific concepts related to the solar system.
Not quite sure what the big hoopla is with these plays? Then read about the basics of readers’ theaters.
This play presents a fun way for your students to enrich their understanding of the planets and other bodies by bringing that specific content to life through the use of imagination!
Though I’m going to make some suggestions on how you can present this solar system reader’s theater script to your students, remember that it’s a flexible teaching resource that may be used in a variety of ways.
Solar System Reader’s Theater Script: Teaching Objectives
Though your students will have improved reading comprehension and greater knowledge about the planets after studying and presenting this play, there are specific objectives that it covers.
After studying and presenting this script, students will be able to…
- Describe characteristics of the eight planets.
- Order the planets in relation to the sun.
- List facts about smaller bodies in the solar system.
- Demonstrate improved reading fluency & accuracy.
- Approximately five class periods of about 30 minutes each (This will vary.)
- Vocabulary ABC Chart/Graphic Organizer (included)
- Vocabulary ABC Chart Paper (optional; to be created by the teacher)
- Student Activity Sheets (included)
- Pictures to scale of planets and other space bodies (optional); Google Images is a good resource for this.
Solar System Reader’s Theater Script Lesson Plan
I present reader’s theater scripts as part of reader’s workshop. I follow a model of “Before”, “During”, and “After” reading.
“Before” (Part 1) is an introductory activity that I do with students before we get into the meat of the lesson. The purpose is to hook students’ attention and peak their interest in the topic.
“During” (Part 2) is guided practice which could take various forms: centers, small group instruction, partner work, whole group activity with teacher guidance, group work, etc.
“After” (Part 3) is students’ working independently (sometimes with others) and/or completing assignments that will be formally assessed.
This framework is similar to “I do”, “We do, “You do”.
Below I describe in detail this method using this solar system reader’s theater script. The solar system packet includes a detailed lesson plan with this information. 😉
Part 1: Hook the Students! (one class period of about 30 minutes; will vary)
I love the pre-reading vocabulary activity called RIVET (author Patricia Cunningham)! It’s a great “before” reading strategy to use with this solar system reader’s theater script!
Here’s an example of how it goes.
Write on the board or a piece of chart paper eleven blank lines: five lines for the word “solar” and six for the word “system”.
Ask a student volunteer to guess the first letter.
Allow up to three different students to guess the first letter.
Continue this pattern for the second, third, fourth letter, etc.
Students should guess the letters in sequence, not random like in the game “Hangman”.
If a student thinks he or she knows the word, encourage him to guess the letter first instead of saying the word.
If time permits, have students guess all the letters.
Doing RIVET this way (letter by letter, in sequence) helps to reinforce decoding skills.
Many science words are technical and not used in students’ everyday language.
The decoding practice is especially valuable for ESL learners.
After students have guessed the word, they brainstorm individually for a few seconds all the words they know associated with the phrase “Solar System”.
They then share their words with a partner.
After a minute or so, call for pairs to share.
Record their word responses on the Vocabulary ABC chart paper (a projector of some kind also works well).
Discuss the meanings of their words plus where they have seen and/or heard the associated words.
Afterwards, pass out individual Vocabulary ABC graphic organizers to students.
They’ll record the words discussed.
Part 2: Guided Practice (two class periods of about 30 minutes each; will vary)
Here’s where you’ll introduce the solar system reader’s theater script.
First, do the script as a Read Aloud to model for students good reading fluency, accuracy, and expression.
Afterwards, do the Readers’ Theater as a Shared Reading.
Shared Reading is reading the play with students.
Because this is practice, it’s okay if they read from their desks.
The focus now is on learning the content within the script.
As the script is read, pause for discussion of concepts and of key/bold vocabulary.
If possible, show pictures of the planets and other bodies to help students visualize.
As you all read and discuss, students write new vocabulary words on their vocabulary ABC chart.
Part 3: Independent/Group Practice (two class periods of about 20-30 minutes; will vary).
After the Shared Reading activity, divide students into two or three groups. Within each group, assign each student an individual part from the script. (adjust number of parts based on your class size).
Students practice parts with their group. The focus is on reading with fluency, accuracy, and expression. Monitor and assist students with vocal expression as needed.
As students practice the script daily (in class and/or for homework), they complete the activities that accompany it.
I suggest you have learners practice the script for about ten to fifteen minutes daily in class with their group and then work on the exercises independently.
It’s ultimately up to you when activity pages are due, how the pages are assessed, and when the play is presented to an audience.
There is flexibility in how this solar system reader’s theater script activity is presented to students. Use your imagination and expertise!
Suggested Extension Activities
Challenge students who need even more engagement.
You could have them…
- practice the reader’s theater script as a science or literacy center.
- sketch or draw a picture of each vocabulary word in a vocabulary graphic organizer.
- complete a research report on one of the planets.
- compare/contrast two planets using a Venn Diagram. Spice up this “classic” graphic organizer using Foldables! Included are LOTS of ideas for making graphic organizers more hands-on.
- create their own solar system reader’s theater script about one of the planets or other bodies in the solar system.
- create and label scaled models of the planets and other bodies of the solar system. These pictures or models can then be used as part of a bulletin board or as classroom decorations.
Your kiddos are really going to enjoy this play.
Happy teaching and learning!