"Rules for the Bus" Poetry Theater

A poem in two voices

Adapted from the poem by Eric Ode in Rolling in the Aisles, published by Meadowbrook Press.

Summary:A student learns a hard lesson about riding the bus.

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: A row of student chairs representing the seats on a bus. Any other props are optional.

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.


Bus Driver
Other riders on the bus (optional)

Rules for the Bus


Said our driver in September
as we climbed aboard the bus,


“There are rules you must remember.
Number one, you do not cuss.
Do not squirm and do not wiggle.
Do not squeak and do not squawk.
Do not laugh and do not giggle.
Better yet, don’t even talk.
Do not ever let me catch you
with your feet out in the aisle.
Sit as rigid as a statue
with a stiff and silent smile.
And you will not wear your mittens,
and you will not wear a mask.
And you will not bring your kittens,
and you shouldn’t even ask.
And you will not play with bubbles
or a yo-yo or balloon.
And for causing me such troubles
you will get them back in June.
Now the day is here. Begin it
with the words I have to say.
Kindly take a seat this minute,
and let’s have a pleasant day.”


Well, I listened very closely
to the messages I heard,
and, in all this time, I’ve mostly
followed each and every word.
I have tried to pay attention,
but of this, I must confess.
There’s a rule she didn’t mention,
and today it caused a mess.
It is not as if I planned it
with an evil attitude.
I am not that underhanded,
and I don’t mean to be crude,
but it causes quite a fuss,
and it might even be unlawful
to have climbed aboard the bus
when you have stepped in something awful.

The End!

© 2004 by Eric Ode. Adapted from the poem in Rolling in the Aisles, published by Meadowbrook Press. This classroom theater play version of “Rules for the Bus” 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 Eric Ode.