Submitted by Tara Derr, Waldorf, Maryland

Idea posted May 21, 2004

Have your kids pick from three different genres of stories. (I had mine chose between a scary story, a fairy tale, or an adventure story.) Then, divide the class into groups of five to six students. Each group has to complete the following:

1) Pick a story.
2) Read through the story together and highlight parts in the story where sound effects could be added to make it more interesting.
3) Decide on how the sound effects are to be made (i.e., body percussion, furniture, classroom instruments, vocal, etc.).
4) Within the group, decide who in the group will do sound effects and who will narrate. Each student has to do at least one thing (i.e., they can't just sit there).
5) Practice the story with the effects.
6) Perform their version of the story for the class.

I graded the class on group cooperation, individual contribution, the quality of sound effects, and ability to stay on task.

Another idea is to pick a section of the story where the groups need to write their own song lyrics to a familiar tune.

You can also assign a day where students have to sing everything they say in class. Or use a day where everyone is assigned a phrase (i.e., "I like to eat cheese and crackers by the ocean, where I can watch the birds.") Then they must say that phrase first using their normal speaking voice, then sing it, or read it as a different character (i.e., an old lady, a baby, etc.). This may give them line reading experience and a little drama.