The Rope Tug: Getting Organized

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SWBAT read their play parts with grade-level fluency and describe key details about their characters.

Big Idea

To ensure students gain adequate exposure to a range of texts and tasks, drama introduces students to different genres and ideas.


Common Core Connection:

While preparing this lesson, I realized that several CC standards could be utilized to teach each lesson in this unit.  In this lesson my main focus was on helping students deeply understand the key details about the characters they would be playing (RL.1.3) as well as read their parts with appropriate fluency (RF.1.4).  My students were also working in small group settings throughout the lesson, so they got a lot of opportunities to develop their speaking and listening skills as well.

Lesson Overview:

In today’s lesson I had my students’ first practice reading their parts as a whole group setting before they began practicing with their ‘drama’ group.



5 minutes

I started today’s lesson by asking my students:

  • Who are the characters in a play?
  • Who is the narrator?

The students who answered these questions correctly informed the class that the characters are the people in the play, and the narrator is the one telling what happens in the play.  I agreed, stating that the characters are called performers because they are not just reading the play, but acting it out as well.  I also told them there is another person in plays, that we don’t see, but he/she is very important.  That person is the director.  I then asked if my little ones if they could tell me what the director does.  After a little minute to think about this new word and repeating it a few times, one of my students called out that directors gives directions.  I agreed and told my class today I was the director, when I pointed at their group, or said their group name they needed to read their part.

Today, I told my young students, they were going to practice reading The Rope Tug with their ‘drama’ group.  At the same time I reminded them that while they were reading their parts they needed to pay close attention to the other characters and the director so they knew when they were suppose to read.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

I then re-arranged where they were sitting by having the entire group of Narrators sit in the first row, all the Rat characters sit in the second row, all the Elephant characters sit in the third row, and all students playing the Hippos stood behind the third row.

From their new positions, my students read through their parts as a large group.  The first time I had them read it as if it were a regular story.  After that I directed their attention to the character pictures before each sentence and told them they were to read only the part that had the same picture as their character.  It took two readings before it sounded like regular speech and they were accustomed to reading only one or two sentences.

Before sending them off, I had each group share with each other one key detail about their characters. This way, each group got to hear several different key details about the character they would be playing before heading off to their drama groups.

Collaborative Activity

15 minutes

After this large group practice I explained they would now go into their ‘drama’ groups to practice as a group.  From there I had each group of four sit in separate parts of the room so they could practice reading their parts.  I reminded them they were practicing to perform for a Kindergarten or Second grade class.  Once settled students immediately began Practicing Their Parts.  This group of boys know who is to read next because they are Following Along.   As students practiced I monitored their engagement and participation by visiting each group.

At the end of the allotted practice time I called them back to their rug area and told each group what I liked about their practicing and working together.

From that point we transitioned into the independent practice time.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

Usually during this time my students are in their leveled reading groups where they rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through reading/ELA activities.  One activity that I always include is journal writing.  The prompt I put on the Promethean board today:  In the play I am the ___.  (He) (She) is ___. 

 I check each journal not only for completeness and understanding, but for conventions and spelling as well.

Also included in today’s rotation was art, where my students began to make their "costumes" for their character.  Keeping it simple, students made the costumes out of paper plate masks, and, for the most part, I had already cut out and stapled the parts that needed cutting and stapling.  (Only because paper plates are hard to cut and staple, especially when children are cutting circles for eyes, or stapling ears in the right spot).  

I feel art is a form of self expression and allowed my students to color their masks how they wanted to - as long as it was not gory or scary.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students told me one key detail about the character they were playing.