Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites - Role Plays, Drama, Pantomimes, Charades, and Storytelling (Chapter 14 and 15)

I am linking up with the Kinder Gals for Chapters 14 and 15 of our best practice book study! I have really enjoyed going through the different strategies in this book and reflecting on how I use them in my own teaching practice. This study was such a great idea! :D

Have your students represent data by lining up in a human bar graph. Then stand on a chair and snap a picture of the graph from aerial view!  (I know I have a picture of this, but I can’t find it!)

I love having kids act out their vocabulary words. It is one of my favorite Whole Brain Teaching strategies. I use Mirror-Words, which has the kids repeat my words and mirror my gestures. It really helps solidify those vocabulary concepts.  (I have pictures of this, too! Where ARE they?!)

I love having my students perform class plays. We often don’t have enough time to be able to rehearse to the point that all their lines are memorized, so I often do a variation that I call a Reader’s Theater Play. Basically, they perform Reader’s Theater Plays for an audience, complete with basic costumes and set changes.

A Christmas Carol play
Marley's Ghost wore paper chains and a head wrap. 

A Christmas Carol play
We collaborated with the music teacher to get some different "costumes" and wigs. 
This is Fezziwig with a young Ebenezer. You can see the "fireplace" in the background. 

This is really motivating for my struggling readers. They get the opportunity to practice their lines over and over (repeated reading!), but still have the play script for help the day of the play. The best part is that many students practice their lines so much, they end up memorizing them anyways! Our class plays are always memorable and SO MUCH FUN! The other classes love to come watch them.

A Christmas Carol play
The Ghost of Christmas future repurposed an old Halloween costume. 
We spun the "fireplace" around to reveal a graveyard on the back. 

A Christmas Carol play
Tiny Tim delivers his (or in this case, her) classic line to finish the play. 

Before I teach the coordinate grid with ordered pairs each year, I tell my kids that we are going on a field trip. This is, of course, a LIE. :D We aren't going anywhere. But we're going to PRETEND we're going somewhere. We close our eyes and travel through time and space to get to none other than ... the Empire State Building. Oooh, aaaahhh. (We learn about it earlier in the year from the read aloud Sky Boys. If you haven't read it, you should!) Next, we imagine that we are going to go to the very top of the building and what we will do to get there. This involves walking horizontally into the door to get to the elevator. Once in the elevator, we move vertically up to the top of the building. . Well, this is the exact same order that you must ALWAYS use when finding ordered pairs on a coordinate grid. After we "visit" the Empire State building, I tie the story directly into the concept of ordered pairs. It REALLY helps the concept "stick" with my students! 

This is another one of my favorite things to do with my kids. It is SO motivating for struggling readers. They think it is a blast and will beg to play this game. Here is a video that taught me how to do it! 

What are some of YOUR favorite ways to incorporate these strategies?


  1. Love the plays! Some of my favorite memories as a mom was when Megan and Tyler were in plays. I can still remember their lines!

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