This readers’ theatre is a great tool to start the conversation on the benefits of diversity. I give each table group a set of laminated shapes with adhesive magnets on the back. I use green for the triangles, yellow for the squares, brown for the rectangles and a light blue or gray for the circles. The shapes should be of different sizes to create the picture as you envision it. After the narrator introduces each neighborhood, the corresponding table group chants its “song.” The fight scene should be read slowly enough for you to direct students to a magnetic dry erase board to create the resulting image of a train surrounded by trees. Where possible, i.e. the arrangement of the trees, tree trunks, puffs of smoke and the starter box should be done with some autonomy.
After the picture is created, ask the students if the picture could have been created with just circles – then just triangles – then just rectangles – then just squares. Ask if the picture would have looked right if all the shapes were the same size – then same color.
Boil down the conversation to the fact that we need diversity to get things done. People, whether they are of color or not, have valuable knowledge and skills to help get things done, i.e. to teach a lesson, to deliver food, to help the sick, to complete group projects, put on a play, etc.
The story goes like this:
Once upon a time, there was a town divided. On a hill to the West was a neighborhood of triangles. They chanted:
Triangles are the best.
We have three sides and three angles.
Yes, triangles are the best.
Anyone who is not a triangle is bad, bad, bad!
In a valley to the South, there was a neighborhood of squares. They chanted:
Squares are the best.
We have four equal sides and four equal angles.
Yes, squares are the best.
Anyone who is not a square is bad, bad, bad!
In the center of town lived the rectangles. They chanted:
Rectangles are the best.
We have two long sides and two short sides.
Yes, rectangles are the best.
Anyone who is not a rectangle is bad, bad, bad!
The circles lived on a hill to the East. They chanted:
Circles are the best.
We are perfectly round.
Yes, circles are the best.
Anyone who is not a circle is bad, bad, bad!
One day the circles were playing atop their hill and one fell, rolling into the rectangles’ section of town. The rectangles were in an uproar.
Hey, what are you doing here?
A big fight ensued. The rest of the circles rolled down their hill to the rescue, colliding with other rectangles on the way. One rectangle tripped and jumped in the air, falling on top of three circles. The triangles stumbled down their hill and tried to break up the fight. As the rectangle started to roll, a triangle put itself in front. The squares arrived by this time. Two jumped on top of the rectangle on top of the circles, cutting off another short flying rectangle, which bounced to the top of the front square. The other circles, triangles, squares and rectangles looked on with amazement. What had formed was a beautiful picture of a train with a smokestack, round puffs of smoke, trees surrounding it and a starter box (of two squares).