Tableaux Reading Comprehension

This activity combines reading comprehension with movement and performance to engage students more tangibly with the content. This transforms virtual and in-person classrooms into (more) creative and (more) fun spaces, which invites a different style of learning, and presents opportunities for students to exercise fresh skills.


  • Read a story together as a class, or read the story out loud to students.
  • Form groups of 3-5 students and assign parts of the story to each group–e.g. introduction, beginning, conflict, climax, resolution, end. Do not give them specific events, instead allow them to work as a group to determine what event best represents the section of the story.
  • Each group takes 5-10 minutes and goes to a place in the cleared-out room to design a collective pose (or tableaux) that best represents their part of the story. They must get creative and work together to stage the pose; some students will act as background props – like a tree! – some will be characters, some will be objects.
  • Mark a line or square on the floor with masking tape; this will be the stage. 
  • Have students return from their areas and sit on the floor in front of the stage. 
  • Call out each group in the order of the story to present their tableaux on the stage; the audience will guess which part of the story the group is representing.
  • Allow for the audience to offer suggestions that might make the tableaux visually and narratively stronger.

For some tips on how to have students frame their feedback, check out our “Critique Sandwich on Compliment Bread” tool.