Enabling Children to Act with Props

Embellishing a Story’s Dramatization with Animal Props

Children who are typically shy to act in a storytelling dramatization, tend to overcome their self-consciousness when holding a character prop.

I believe that by holding a prop, the children’s focus shifts from themselves to the prop, allowing them to act out the character freely.

In one example, I used animal props to go along with song lyrics created for a storytelling dramatization of the book Carolinda Clatter by Mordicai Gerstein.

The lyrics are as follows:

Mountain, Forest, Meadow, River
Animals Roam Hither Thither
Tigers Come, Tigers Run, Tigers Leap, Tigers Jump
Tigers Kick and Go, Tigers Frolic to and Fro

In this song-chant, the tiger would be replaced with whatever animal the child chose from my collection. (The ones shown here are from the company, Anamalz.)

So, for this child, I would have said,

Crocodiles Come, Crocodiles Run, Crocodiles Leap, Crocodiles Jump
Crocodiles Kick and Go, Crocodiles Frolic to and Fro

The child, while holding the crocodile, would then run, leap, jump, kick and frolic (…even though you don’t think of crocodiles jumping, kicking, or frolicking – they probably do – just in their own way.)

The green fabric in the photo represented the meadow. I had also put out other cloth and pillows to represent the mountain, forest, and river in the song.

What I found is that the children were quite ready to act out the lines of the song when they had their animal prop in their hands – almost as if it were their honored responsibility to give expression to the animal.

Sometimes I demonstrated for the children possible actions when they looked confused by the meaning of words (like for “frolic to and fro”). But on the whole, they acted it out by themselves without help – at first dutifully following the lyrics exactly.

I just kept repeating the song/chant again and again. After some time, the kids got really into it and started improvising!

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