"I Call First" Poetry Theater

A poem in three voices

Adapted from the poem by Ted Scheu in If Kids Ruled the School, published by Meadowbrook Press.

Summary: A student who wants to be the first in everything learns that first isn’t always best.

Presentation Suggestions: Have the students read or perform the poem in front of the class. Have the students act out the different lines while they read them.

Props: This poem can be performed without props. However, students can use the pencil sharpener, stack chairs, snack on an apple or cookie, and do other things described in the poem.

Delivery: The lines of the poem need to be read with poetic rhythm. For more information on poetic rhythm and how to perform poetry in classroom, please read the Performing Poetry section under the Teacher’s Resources.


Student 1
Student 2
Student 3

I Call First!

Student 1:

“I call first to get a drink! And first to eat my snack!
I call first to go to gym, and first when we come back!

Student 2:

“I call first to leave for lunch! And first to switch the light!
I call first to read out loud the poems that I write!

Student 3:

“I call first to sharpen up my pencil, loud and slow!
And when we get to sharing time, I call first to show!

Student 1:

“I call the computer! I call the special chair!
And I call first in line each time that we go anywhere!

Student 2:

“And on the hill at recess, I get to be the king!
I call first forever and for every little thing!”

Student 3:

I said those things in class today until my teacher heard.
She sat right down and made a list to keep me at my word.

Student 1:

So now I’m first to dump the trash and sweep the silly floors.
I’m first to be the last in line—’cause I hold all the doors.

Student 2:

I’m first to wipe the tables off and scrape off clods of clay.
I’m first to pass the paper out and put the paints away.

Student 3:

I’m first to stack the stupid chairs and first to scrub the sink.
I’m prob’ly not the first to see that being first can stink!

The End

© 2004 by Ted Scheu. Adapted from the poem in If Kids Ruled the School, published by Meadowbrook Press. This classroom theater play version of “I Call First” is © 2005 by Meadowbrook Press.

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Permission is given for individual school classes to perform this play and to make as many copies of the play as are needed for the students' use. All other reproduction and performance is prohibited under penalty of law. For use of this play outside individual classes, please contact for permission.

Click here to learn more about Ted Scheu.