Top Bar

Gladwyne Elementary School


Ms. Unger's Class Hears the Case of the Broken Bicycle

There was order in the court -- or at least order in Ms. Unger's class -- as third-grade students took part in a reader's theater mock trial, reenacting a court case about a broken bicycle. 

Students played all the parts in this courtroom drama -- sheriff and bailiff, judge, jurors, attorneys, witnesses, the plaintiff and defendant, as well as the jury. The plaintiff charged that the defendant had crashed and damaged his bicycle while riding it, when she was just supposed to paint lightning bolts on it.

The defendant claimed that she was only riding the bike to help the paint dry quickly, since the plaintiff wanted it back within 24 hours. And she maintained she would not have crashed had the plaintiff not stuck his hand out to stop her from riding. 

Students playing the jurors took careful notes as student attorneys questioned and cross-examined the plaintiff and defendant, as well as witnesses. At the conclusion of the testimony, the jury went into the hallway outside 3U to deliberate.

Proud parents and guardians looked on, some no doubt wondering which of the young actors might someday have a career in law enforcement. And they had reason to wonder. 

Ms. Unger's classes began the mock trial activity about a dozen years ago, thanks to a student's mom and aunt, who are both lawyers. They wrote the trial script and worked with students on the presentation.

Now, that original 3U student, the son and nephew of those attorneys, has completed his junior year in college and is applying to law schools himself. His mom and aunt came back to help this year's jurors with their deliberations and to hand out certificates to all of the participants.

And the verdict? The jury found the defendant guilty and responsible for crashing the bicycle. 

For "trial" photos, click through the slide show below:

The student sheriff asks all to rise as the judge enters
A student dressed as a judge sits at a table, holding a gavel.
The student sheriff swears in the plaintiff for his testimony
A student attorney questions a witness
A student attorney questions a witness in front of the seated judge
The student sheriff swears in two girls playing the defendent's mother
A student attorney questions the plaintiff
The students playing the defendent and her attorneys smile at the defense table
The students playing the plaintiff and his attorneys sit at their table.
A student juror takes notes on her clipboard during testimony
A student in the jury box takes notes on the testimony on his clipboard
A student attorney questions the defendent, who is seated next to the judge's table.
The student sheriff swears in the defendent before her testimony.
The student playing the defendent sits in the witness chair
A student witness gives his testimony
The student bailiff sits next to the judge and looks on during the proceedings.
Parent volunteers lead the jury in deliberations in the hallway after the testimony
The student jury members raise their hands during their deliberation discussion
The student jurors in the hallway for their deliberations
Student jurors in the hallway during deliberations
One of the student attorneys questions a witness as the judge looks on.
A parent volunteer hands a certificate to one of the student jurors
A parent volunteer hands a certificate to the student dressed as the sheriff.