Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer fun - creating story props

Summer is a great time for getting a few miscellany projects done for the classroom that I never seem to have time for during the school year. I am having fun this summer creating additional story props for some favorite picture books. Each year, I notice how much the children enjoy retelling their favorite tales through these. I only have a handful and I am determined to build my collection. 

Today, I created a simple set for Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. I love this book! These adorable owls experience a preschooler's biggest fear at the outset of a school year - is Mommy coming back? The book is momentarily harrowing and suspenseful, and concludes with the reassurance that Mommy always comes back.

Here are my story props for Owl Babies:

The tree that the owls live in.

The owl babies - Sarah, Bill, and Percy.

Mommy Owl.

I try to reduce the story to just a handful of pieces - its main characters and the setting. I purposefully create these props very simplistically: recycled manila folders as card stock, colored pencils, an hour of drawing, and basic laminate (or even clear tape for small pieces) adds up to the proper mix for me. I think the simplicity of the story props makes the whole storytelling much more accessible to the student (and often leads to them trying to creating stories on paper themselves).

I think it is important that the materials and my time/effort to be small enough that I don't feel frustration or anger if they are torn or damaged. I want the children to use these over and over; I understand that they will be tugged on and used roughly at times, while children learn the process of taking care of these pieces. These story props can be repaired quickly and cheaply with clear tape!

[Wouldn't it be great if picture books came with card stock replicas of the main characters of a book?]


  1. I hear your philosophy about the 'care' of these, but certainly you do want them used, and they will then show wear, and that's great. The kids will enjoy them so much! Good idea about picture books sharing main parts of their books!

  2. Maureen, we heard all about these pieces at supper last night! H was really captivated by being able to participate in the story as Bill. She also explained to us how you'd drawn the owls on paper and covered then in plastic so they wouldn't get messed up. :)