Preparing the Extras
One of the reasons that reader's theater is so effective with students is because of the multitude of fun props, costumes, and movement that can accompany the reading. While they love moving and trying out various items, students can quickly lose focus if the teacher hasn't planned out how these extras can be used.
Costumes and props can help the process of learning to read aloud with emotion and emphasis. When you're wearing a silly hat, it's easier to read with less self-consciousness, and it's especially helpful when everyone in the room is participating in the frivolity. Making sure that everyone has a costume piece or prop is important to create a safe atmosphere for the reading, and in your first attempts at reader's theater, it may be helpful to provide props and costumes for the class. These can be as simple as towels for superhero capes; the complexity is less important than the ability to pretend. After the students understand that props and costumes should be simple, they can assist by bringing items from home.
Movement during the reading should be simple as well. In the Del Sartre method of acting that was popular in the 1800s, simple movements were used to indicate emotions, such as shaking a fist for anger or a hand to the forehead for sadness. This acting method is terrific for reader's theater because it is simple, easy to learn, and effective. When you read through the script, find areas where these simple motions could be added and write them in the margins. It will be easier to direct your students in their reading when you have the motions mapped out.