Balsa Wood Masks (Fun & Cheap @ Michael’s Craft Stores)

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Looking for a fast way to add interest to your costume box or for  a quick last minute curtain call when you stage a play? Look no further than the craft area at Michael’s Craft Stores. These balsa wood masks are a great suggestion for students to add to their characters when you do a classroom play. The masks are under $2.00 each and can be spruced up with crayons, markers, feathers. You can add glitter, feathers, sparkles to crowns—these masks are terrific to keep in your costume box and the stores seem to add different designs all the time. Check out other great teaching tips and costume ideas at


Have Your Class Write Their Own Scripts

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Read how third grade teacher Genia Connell generated reader’s theater scripts in her classroom. The results-a fun way to practice fluency as they expressively read the same passages over and over again during rehearsals. This year, Genia put a bit of a different twist on her reader’s theatre and it worked so well, and like the kids, she can hardly wait until we do it again.

I told my students that they would have to write their own Reader’s Theater scripts. Squeals of delight filled the room.We generated a list of all the chapter and picture books we had read as a class this year. Next, the students, who were still in their Winn Dixie groups, selected one book they wanted to turn into a Reader’s Theatre production.  During our language arts time the next two days, scripts were written and rewritten using a graphic organizer I had provided. The guidelines were simple–each play needed to be between 3-5 minutes long and everyone in the group had to have just about the same number of lines, even if it meant one person playing a few different roles. I suggested that they use the formatting of the Winn Dixie script they had just read as a model.  I stood back hesitantly and watched as students argued over what the narrator would say or how a character would act. As conflicts arose and they looked to me, I didn’t intervene but told them compromise was the word of the day.What resulted at the end of the second day amazed me. The type of jaw-dropping amazement you don’t expect in a third grade classroom the last week of school. This twist on Reader’s Theatre–an impromptu decision of having the students write their own Reader’s Theater scripts, may have been the best decision I made this year. Group after group went in front of the class and performed well-written, spot-on scenes from Stone Fox, Wayside School is Falling Down, The Whipping Boy, and The Tale of Despereaux. Each script honestly sounded as if they were reading from one which was professionally written. Using materials from the prop box added to the fun as girls played boys’ roles wearing hats and mustaches while the boys happily sported pink tutus and hula skirts to read the roles of female characters. I can also honestly say, that just like my students, I can hardly wait ‘til next time.


The Sun Will Come–Extending Learning

By Allie Magnuson

Our classroom produced The Sun Will Come-a fun little play that  I discovered on

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Our Kids in Costume

We had a wonderful time staging the play and creating great simple costumes. But the learning didn’t stop there. We used the play in our other work, too. I found the play to be a great launch pad for learning. Students struggling with sight words wrote down as many words as they could find in the play in under a minute. Students tested their reading comprehension by writing about the play. I had a bulletin board in the classroom with vocabulary that we had learned during the staging of the play.

This was not just a play for my kids–it was an exciting learning experience that we all will remember for a long time.

With more than 700 plays available on with teaching resources and extension activities, this is my “go-to” place for creativity and play ideas.