I love using Readers Theatre in my classroom. It's so much fun to watch the students show off their dramatic talents with zany, information-filled plays.
Unfortunately, I've become very picky about scripts. I don't want scripts that are more than 3 pages long, because no fourth grade audience has they attention span to watch the performance. I don't like scripts with more than 6 characters, because the groups often start fighting.
One of my long-time favorite set of scripts has been Read-Aloud Mini Plays with Leveled Parts. (Follow the link to read the Amazon review that I wrote of it back in 2008.) I like how the scripts include parts with different reading levels. These scripts also have the right level of silliness for my fourth graders. (Unfortunately, the follow-up book only has 12 scripts, and has some uneven parts that has led to great angst in the classroom.)
I go through all of the scripts in this book in about two months. To build my script base, I have written several sets of scripts to go along with what I am teaching. These scripts are all roughly the same length, with about the same number of parts. Once we perform a set, extra scripts are kept in one spot in the classroom for students to use during free time and indoor recess.
These scripts do not come easily. Coming up with a situation, explaining a topic, and making sure that each character has a decent set of lines is hard to manage. Making it all fit on 2-3 pages is even harder! I can usually only manage it every few months or so. Interestingly, it's not something I spread out, like the text structure packets; instead, I write these in an intensely concentrated period of time.
Story Elements Readers Theatre
Five scripts (character, setting, plot, theme, conflict) review the key story elements, with varying degrees of silliness.
Text Structure Readers Theatre
Four scripts (chronological order, compare and contrast, problem/solution, and cause/effect) explain text structures.
Purpose for Reading
Three scripts explain why readers choose books. I have always meant to add a fourth script to this set, but every time I sit down to do it my brain just--refuses.
Animal Classification Readers Theatre
Five scripts explain the differences between mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds.
Scientific Method Readers Theatre (whole class): This one isn't my favorite, but it makes for a fabulous substitute lesson.