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WT 268 Performing Poems

Teacher Tips and Answers


WT 268

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Performing Poems

You’ve probably recited a poem before, reading it aloud for others to hear. But have you ever performed a poem? You act it out like a mini-play. Performing a poem makes it fun for you and for your audience.

Bringing It to Life

To perform a poem, you just need to find a poem you like, grab a few friends, divide up lines, and practice reading them. You also add movements that will make your classmates laugh and cheer. This chapter shows how.

Students Consider Their Poem
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Moving Poetry from Page to Stage

Follow these simple steps to prepare a poem and perform it for your class!

1. Form a team.

Get together with a few classmates. A good team size is two, three, or four performers.

2. Find poems to perform.

What poems have you or your teammates written? What poems have you read recently? Consider these. Also look through books of poems from your classroom, the library, or your home.

  • Collect different types of poems. Collect funny ones, clever ones, and serious ones. Take turns reading the poems out loud.
  • Choose the right poem. Poems that have a lot of action are easiest to perform, so consider those first. Poems that tell about feelings are harder, but you can perform one of those for a challenge.
Classroom Stage
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3. Script the poem.

After you have chosen a poem, divide it into speaking parts. This is called scripting.

Original Poem 🟪 Let’s use Sara Kelly’s short poem “At the Zoo” to show you how to script. First read the poem, and then see how it was made into a script.

Zoo Animals
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At the Zoo

Let’s take a trip down to the zoo

to feed the goats, and rides trains, too!

Let’s ape around with chimpanzees

and bray along with old donkeys.

And then we’ll watch the dolphin show!

They speak and laugh like us, you know.

Lions and tigers and bears—hooray!

Let’s go to the zoo today!

Scripted Poem 🟪 To script your poem, you must decide on speaking parts. People, animals, or things can speak

    Narrator 1: Let’s take a trip down to the zoo
    Narrator 2: to feed the goats, and rides trains, too!
    Narrator 3: Let’s ape around with chimpanzees
    Narrator 1: and bray along with old donkeys.
    Narrator 2: And then we’ll watch the dolphin show!
    Narrator 3: They speak and laugh like us, you know.
        All: Lions and tigers and bears—hooray!
        All: Let’s go to the zoo today!

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4. Score the poem.

Next you must score the poem. That means naming feelings and movements for different lines of your script.

Scored Poem
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5. Perform your poem.

After you have scripted and scored your poem, start reading it out loud. Keep practicing until all team members know their lines. Then get ready to perform.

Tips for Performing

  • Act confident. Stand straight. Don’t fidget.
  • Face your audience. As a rule, don’t turn your back to the audience. Let them see your face!
  • Introduce the poem and the poet. Before your performance, stand shoulder to shoulder. Together, announce the title of the poem and the poet’s name. Then move to your starting positions.
  • Use your “outside” voices. This is the voice you’ll need so everyone can hear you! Remember to add the right feelings and movements when you speak.
  • Take a bow. When your performance is over, pause for a moment, take a bow, and return to your seats.
Students Bow After Performing Their Poem
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Encore! Encore!

Use Izaak Jones’s list poem for an encore (an additional performance). You and your team can add your own feelings and movements to the poem.

Things to Do
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Things to Do

This year, I have a lot to do:

go to the park and make new friends,

help my neighbor get up her stairs,

plant a pumpkin and watch it grow,

take my dog Jasper for lots of walks,

brush my cat Reggie to get out the mats,

learn a hundred new things in school,

sing “Happy Birthday” 50-some times,

read about everything under the sun,

and tuck myself in when all of it’s done.

       —Izaak Jones

Teacher Support:

Click to find out more about this resource.

English Language Arts:

Standards Correlations:

The Common Core State Standards provide a way to evaluate your students' performance.

Lesson Plan Resources:

Here you'll find a full list of resources found in this lesson plan.

Vocabulary List:
  • recite: speak aloud before an audience

  • perform: act out with movements, gestures, and facial expressions

Vocabulary List:
  • scripting: dividing a poem into speaking parts

Vocabulary List:
  • score: add feeling and movement to lines of the script

Vocabulary List:
  • encore: additional performance to reward an eager audience

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