Over the last month, I have been experimenting with storytelling in new ways, and have been trying to find ways to make it more engaging for little ones by adding puppets and even some props into the mix! I have to say that I am SO pleased with the results! Even the smallest effort in rounding up a few small props to go along with my puppets has returned big dividends in terms of squeals of delight and roars of laughter from the children that I have been reading to! So I just HAD to share some of these techniques with you here today, because they are adaptable to just about any story book that you choose to read, and are limited only by your imagination! Watch this video tape to see how much fun it is!
As many of you may know, I have been Skyping quite often with school children all over the country, and part of what I do when I Skype with classes is read a book that I wrote to them. (Skype is a way of visiting “live” online so that both parties can see and hear each other in real time, and it’s free!) The problem is that sometimes I believe that the children may not be able to see the pages of the books that I am holding up due to a dark screen, etc. I have tried to do some “screen sharing” when I Skype, so that all I have to do is simply pull up a digital version of my book on my screen, and set my computer so that the class can see what is on my screen. However, Skype keeps freezing when I do this, so unfortunately that is not working out the way I had hoped.
So, on to plan B! I was using puppets while I told the story before, but wasn’t too worried about gathering together any props or anything because I figured the pictures in the book were enough. Well, without being able to depend on that, I decided I was going to have to get a little more creative! So I went looking for props so that I could make the puppet act out the story a little more dramatically.
I described the story that I wrote about Little Sittles in a previous blog post, but if you missed it or do not remember, I’ll give you a brief recap here: I’m sure that we have all had students that don’t want to participate in class activities, right? Well this book is for them! My Wiggles books are for kids that are wiggling all over the place, don’t sit still, and don’t listen. Sittles, on the other hand, won’t get up and move, or speak, etc.! So this is her story. Sittles doesn’t want to try anything because she is afraid she might make a mistake. But the children keep encouraging her, and eventually she realizes that school is fun, and that it feels good to learn, move, and participate or “join in.” When I read it, I always try to remember to talk to the children about the fact that mistakes mean that you are LEARNING, and that mistakes are GOOD!
The props for this book were simple to gather. In the book, she sings a song, (no prop needed,) plays a game, counts, and reads a book. So I found some magnetic shapes that I knew I could have the puppet push around and sort on a magnetic dry erase board for th game. Then she could count them as well, so I killed two birds with one stone there! Then all I needed was a book for her to read. I managed to find a “small-ish” board book in my collection, which turned out to be a David Shannon book called “David Smells.” It’s a bit too large, but it works! At the end of the story, Sittles teacher gives her a badge that says, “I Join in and Learn!” I put a piece of sticky backed velcro on Sittles chest and laminated a badge from the back of the book, and put some velcro on the back of the badge as well. It works like a charm!
After I had a chance to tell the story to a group “live and in person” with the puppets and props, it was obvious to me how much better it was to tell it that way. And I think that the children really got the idea of the importance of participating in class activities, being willing to take a chance, and make a mistake in order to learn!
If you want more storytelling ideas with props and puppets, I found a great blog that is written by a children’s librarian, and he has ideas by the dozens, if not the hundreds! It is called “Beyond the Book Storytimes.” I’m sure that there are a lot more children’s librarians out there that are blogging on creative ways to tell a story, too! If you know of more links, please share!