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Reader’s Theater: Virtual Edition!

Reader’s Theater was a popular in-person program, pre-pandemic. It was actually one of the last programs I ran in person, with our regular season running each February (learn more about in-person Reader’s Theater here, though the process is pretty similar to what is outlined below).

My Reader’s Theater kids are known for their energy, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into by making this a virtual program. But, in the end, other than internet connection issues, the program was pretty seamless.

Before the Program – Script Prep!

Most of my work takes place before I see the kids the first time, and this was also the case virtually. Personally, I don’t use standard “reader’s theater scripts” that you can find on Google–they often feel forced or aren’t as fun for my 3rd-5th graders. Instead, I look for funny picture books that can be adapted to a reader’s theater style performance. I also have a stash of old Zoom Playhouse Scripts. The Zoom website is no longer available, but some of these can be transcribed from YouTube videos.

Knowing that I both had some new faces among my signups and that I wanted some familiarity, this year’s scripts included the titles below. Click on the links on the titles to download the scripts to use in your own program.

I plan for a full group of 15 kids. Not every kid is in every play. I select scripts that allow for 60 parts total (four per reader). Many picture books allow for multiple narrator roles, allowing me to tweak scripts to fit the number of parts I need to reach 60.

Once I have all of my scripts, I print them all out and highlight the appropriate lines for each part. Then, the sorting begins.

I sort scripts into folders before the first rehearsal. In person, kids then randomly select a folder without knowing what parts are inside. Virtually, I had to distribute folders out the drive thru window pickup service, so I had to pick parts for kids ahead of time. When I had a toss up for who should get a part with more lines, I tended to give it to kids who were aging out of the program this year (especially those who had been doing this a while).

To break scripts down into folders, I try to aim for the following:

  • 4 scripts per folder
  • At least 1 script that is a “lead” role (more lines)
  • Not all parts in one folder are narrator roles
  • If possible, spread scripts out based on the chosen performance order (not all scripts are at the beginning or end)

Each folder has two labels on the front with the parts of the performer and the performance order. I use three-prong folders, so scripts are hole-punched and inserted into the prongs.

Another difference: in person, kids would only get copies of the scripts for the plays they were in. Virtually, each kid got a copy of every script because I new we would have absences and drop outs, and I would need to assign those roles. In person, I handed kids the folder of the absent participant, virtually, I didn’t want to deal with sending links to virtual copies of scripts.

Some other practices to make script assignment smooth:

  • I create a master sheet for me, organized by play, labeling which scripts/performers have which parts. This helps a lot when 15 8-11-year-olds are paying zero attention to which play comes next.
  • I have a jar on hand with the names of each kid inside on a separate slip of paper. If someone is absent, I pull a name out of the jar to evenly distribute extra parts.

Reader’s Theater Virtual Program

This virtual program followed a similar schedule to in-person Reader’s Theater:

  • Week 1: Zoom Scavenger Hunt, Intro to Reader’s Theater, Practice Scripts
  • Week 2: Zoom Scavenger Hunt, Practice Scripts (continued from week 1)
  • Week 3:Zoom Scavenger Hunt, Full Rehearsal
  • Week 4: Performance for family, friends, and more

We started the first three virtual sessions with a Would You Rather question and a Zoom scavenger hunt.

Would You Rather Questions included:

  • Would you rather only be able to get around by hopping like a kangaroo or leaping like a ballerina?
  • Would you rather have ketchup randomly come out of your belly button or your nose?
  • Would you rather be able to only eat your favorite food for the rest of your life, or would you rather never be able to eat it again?

Zoom Scavenger Hunt Items included:

Week 1
1. Something you can wear on your head
2. Something with words on it
3. Something related to dinosaurs
4. Something with wings
5. Something that is meant to get wet
6. Something that makes a sound
7. One of these: rock, paper, or scissors
8. A spoon
9. Something bumpy
10. Something that makes you laugh
11. Something you really want to share
12. Your script!

Download PPT.
Week 2
1. Something you can wear on your head
2. Something related to food
3. A book
4. Something Orange
5. Something round
6. Your script!

Download PPT.
Week 3
1. Something you can wear on your head
2. Something that can hold something else
3. Something related to animals
4. Something purple
5. Your script!

Download PPT.

We only rehearsed one script at a time, so the kids who are not currently practicing are welcome to watch and give feedback, or they can explore some busywork packets–mad libs, dot-to-dots, kawaii coloring sheets, Captain Underpants Name Changer, etc. Download our busywork packet here.

On performance day, family and friends could use the same link to watch the performance. I asked them to mute and turn their cameras off (and did so for them if they did not), and gave them instructions on how to only view the performers on their screens. Everything went smoothly, with a great performance by all!

Reader’s Theater: Virtual Tips

I’ve run this program a lot in person, and I imagine everyone’s experience (virtual or in person) will be very different. Some things I discovered virtually:

  • A lot more kids came once and never returned or never came at all. This meant our final performers ended up with more parts–but it also made things a little more challenging to organize when we got to plays that had more parts than we had performers.
  • “Correcting” kids feels very different virtually. I don’t like to actively correct the kids in any setting, but in person, another kid would more often step in and try to help someone struggling with pronunciation. Sometimes, I would make sure I was seated in a spot situated near someone who needed a little more help reading (or someone who struggled to pay attention to a long script). Virtually, other than through chat, it isn’t really doable to whisper something to one kid without everyone hearing. I mainly only stepped in if someone was really having microphone issues or internet connection problems.
  • Speaking of internet connection problems: they persist, kids can’t always solve the problems on their own, and you can’t always help either. When reading scripts that rely on reading in order and moving through a lot of lines quickly, internet lags can make a 5-minute script take 15 minutes.
  • Figure out, or prepare for, microphone issues ahead of time. I’ve seen some teachers may require kids to keep their microphones on during a virtual class. I didn’t want to require that, but I debated requiring kids to keep them on during a play they were performing in to help keep things moving. I decided not to, for privacy, and that ended up being the best decision. It slowed things down, but one of our particular participants who muted between every line had a screaming baby in the background. It added a few minutes to things, but it was more enjoyable for everyone.

Virtual Book Talk: Grades K-5

Book talks are one of my favorite parts of librarianship. I love going into classrooms, seeing a captive audience of students (who may or may not be excited to see me–at first), and building a feeling of mounting excitement as kids learn that their library is full of fun places to go, fun programs to participate in, and a bunch of books that are actually really cool. My booktalks are packed with energy and popular topics. And I haven’t presented one in about a year. We reached out to schools about virtual book talk options, but while some of my coworkers have had luck, every teacher I’ve reached out to never actually schedules a virtual book talk. I’ve made over 100 individual YouTube book talk videos, and while those are fun, I don’t get to talk to any kids. Finally, (finally!) about a year since I was last in a classroom, I had the chance to talk to some kids virtually.

This presentation was definitely different than in-person book talks. First, I had a collection of grades at once: K-2 and then 3-5 (30 minutes each). Second, since I was presenting virtually with a powerpoint with images, I could pick any book. I wasn’t limited by what was on our shelves. Also, unlike in-person book talks, where we are scheduled to see the same class multiple times a year, this was a one-and-done experience for the school’s literacy day. This opened up so, so many book possibilities. I’m still not sure I’m entirely happy with my choices–it was simply so hard to choose!

The school also wanted me to talk about some other services too. Specifically, they wanted a library tour, information about library cards, and details on programs and services. This was much tougher than usual because the places and services I normally highlight on a tour or during an in-person book talk still aren’t operating. Our play spaces, video game room, and homework help center are closed. Kids can come in and use the computers, but they aren’t encouraged to come game with their friends for hours like they might have done in 2019. I can and did share the different types of books we have, but I wasn’t able to highlight much beyond that.

I talked a bit about getting a library card–which is easier than it has ever been–and about some of our upcoming virtual events as well, before jumping into the books!

Just like I do for in-person visits, I included slides with big images of covers and select spreads:

For Grades K-2, I highlighted these books:

The full K-2 PowerPoint is available here:

For Grades 3-5, I featured these books:

The full 3-5 PowerPoint is available here:

I think the content presented virtually was a bit too much for the students in grades K-2, but grades 3-5 stayed with me and even asked a bunch of questions at the end about the books I discussed, other books, and the library’s history.

It felt fantastic to be able to talk to students again, especially in a way that let me hear from them too. Hopefully, maybe, we will be able to do more of these virtual visits next year in classroom settings. Even if we can’t go into the classrooms, hopefully our local schools will be on a better routine that might allow us to stop by (virtually) more often than we could this school year. There are certain core elements of librarianship that are part of why I signed up for this job in the first place–and talking to kids about books is one of them. While I know these won’t be around forever, especially if I pursue a career in management or collection development or many other future directions, I also wasn’t quite ready to let these things go yet–so for now I’m just happy to have had another opportunity to talk to a bunch of kids about books.

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Malala Yousafzai

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In April, this program featured Malala Yousafzai.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from Black artists and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Note: I did not present this program–my fantastic coworker presented this for me since I was out sick. I’m still happy to share these resources with all of you!

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald
Harriet Tubman
Jean Michel Basquiat
Martin Luther King Jr.
Muhammad Ali
Rosa Parks

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Malala Yousafzai by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

Malala Yousafzai (Little People, Big Dreams) - Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara,  illustrated by Manal Mirza - 9780711259027 - Murdoch books

Movement Break: Super Shaker Song by Culture Queen

Second Book: Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Malala's Magic Pencil: Yousafzai, Malala, Kerascoët: 9780316319577:  Amazon.com: Books

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Maya Angelou

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Jean-Michel Basquiat

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In March, this program featured Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from a diverse artist and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald
Harriet Tubman
Malala Yousafzai
Martin Luther King Jr.
Muhammad Ali
Rosa Parks

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Watch the full storytime here:

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Jean-Michel Basquiat by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

LITTLE PEOPLE BIG DREAMS JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT /ANGLAIS: SANCHEZ VEGARA  ISABE: 9780711245792: Amazon.com: Books

Movement Break: Down Down Up Up by Kymberly Stewart

Second Book: Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe

Children's Books - Mobile Museum of Art - Mobile Museum of Art

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Malala Yousafzai

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Muhammad Ali

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In February, this program featured Muhammad Ali.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from a diverse artist and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald
Harriet Tubman
Jean Michel Basquiat
Malala Yousafzai
Martin Luther King Jr.
Rosa Parks

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Watch the full storytime here.

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Muhammad Ali by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

Image result for little people big dreams muhammad ali

Movement Break: Banana Banana Meatball by Blazer Fresh (GoNoodle)

Second Book: Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born by Gene Baretta

Image result for muhammad ali book picture

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Martin Luther King Jr.

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In January, this program fell on Martin Luther King Day, so it felt like a great time to feature Martin Luther King Jr. in my Little People Big Dreams Storytime.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from a diverse artist and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald
Harriet Tubman
Jean Michel Basquiat
Malala Yousafzai
Muhammad Ali
Rosa Parks

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Watch the full storytime here:

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Martin Luther King Jr. by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Little People, BIG DREAMS, 33): Sanchez Vegara,  Maria Isabel, Degnan, Mai Ly: 9780711245679: Amazon.com: Books

Second Book & Audio: I Have a Dream illustrated by Kadir Nelson
We listened to a recording of Martin Luther King Jr. reading the part of his speech that corresponded to the pages of this book.

I Have a Dream (Book & CD): King Jr., Martin Luther Dr., Nelson, Kadir:  9780375858871: Amazon.com: Books

Third Book: Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson

Let the Children March: Clark-Robinson, Monica, Morrison, Frank:  9780544704527: Amazon.com: Books

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Muhammad Ali

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Harriet Tubman

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In December, I featured Harriet Tubman in my Little People Big Dreams Storytime.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from a diverse artist and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald
Jean Michel Basquiat
Malala Yousafzai
Martin Luther King Jr.
Muhammad Ali
Rosa Parks

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Watch the full storytime here:

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at-home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Harriet Tubman by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

Harriet Tubman (Little People, BIG DREAMS, 13): Sanchez Vegara, Maria  Isabel, Aguado, Pili: 9781786032270: Amazon.com: Books

Music Break: Shake It by Brother Yusef (with shakers)

Second Book: Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Before She was Harriet (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books):  Cline-Ransome, Lesa, Ransome, James E.: 9780823420476: Amazon.com: Books

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Rosa Parks

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In November, I featured Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in my Little People Big Dreams Storytime.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from a diverse artist and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald
Harriet Tubman
Jean Michel Basquiat
Malala Yousafzai
Martin Luther King Jr.
Muhammad Ali

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Watch the full storytime here:

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at-home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser (Little People Big Dreams)

Rosa Parks (Little People, Big Dreams): 9781786030177: Amazon.com: Books

Music Break: Leap Frog by Jazzy Ash (with shakers)

Second Book: Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romitto

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott:  Romito, Dee, Freeman, Laura: 9781499807202: Amazon.com: Books

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Harriet Tubman

Little People Big Dreams: Ella Fitzgerald

As part of our virtual programming, I began a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Harriet Tubman
Jean Michel Basquiat
Malala Yousafzai
Martin Luther King Jr.
Muhammad Ali
Rosa Parks

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Like all of our virtual live storytimes, this program took place on Facebook. I didn’t expect an audience here, and, as I expected, I was very much presenting a storytime to no one, but we are leaving these programs up a little longer than regular storytimes due to the content. We have had a slight increase in views over time, and I’m thinking about ways to make this more accessible (such as uploading storytimes to YouTube).

Watch the full storytime here:

In the event description, I included links to:

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Ella Fitzgerald by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

Ella Fitzgerald: 11 (Little People, Big Dreams): Amazon.co.uk: Sanchez  Vegara, Isabel, Alca, Bàrbara: Books

Music Break: A Tisket, A Tasket by Ella Fitzgerald (with shakers)

Second Book: Making Their Voices Heard : The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and  Marilyn Monroe: Kirkfield, Vivian, Harris, Alleanna: 9781499809152:  Amazon.com: Books

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time

In October, I’m planning to focus on athlete Pele. I think the storytime outline is going to stay the same, though not all famous people are going to lend themselves to a specific song like Ella Fitzgerald does. I’d like to continue to always use diverse musicians for my music though, no matter who that month’s famous individual is. I’m hoping interest in this series grows over time.

Virtual Program: Dog Man BINGO

Dog Man BINGO! There is so much Dog Man love in the universe. This program was pulled from my Dog Man to the Rescue! in-person 2019 Dog Man event, with some minor tweaks to work as a virtual event.

This had a bit more interest than Book Character BINGO a few weeks ago, though I don’t think BINGO draws excitement the same way trivia does. We are experimenting with a weekly live after school trivia/BINGO style event in September, and I’ll be interested to see how that works out.

Looking for more Dog Man?

Check out Virtual Dog Man Trivia and Dog Man to the Rescue!

And discover other virtual school age programs:

Content

We played three rounds of BINGO, two where we aimed for five in a row, and a final coverall game, allowing everyone to get a BINGO.

Watch the video here:

All of the BINGO cards have the same 24 characters on them (plus the free space). I include a number beside each character image to help kids and grown-ups quickly find characters or book covers they are unfamiliar with.

Download the BINGO cards here:

I also curated an at-home fun packet, featuring an activity page for each of our book characters. Download here.

And, of course, a Dog Man BINGO printable certificate:

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