When I was in graduate school, one of my assignments was to create a prop box, and my mind automatically went to the dramatic play area in my classroom. Prop boxes are a wonderful way to enhance and change the themes in our dramatic play areas. But this assignment was not for the dramatic play center. Have you ever heard of a STORY prop box?
Story prop boxes are like ones for the dramatic play area- a collection of items in a box, basket, or other provision that corresponds to items in a story. It is a great way for young children to experience a story with visual enhancements. Children gather information through the experiences they have. By allowing children to use a prop box to stimulate learning about a story, it allows them the opportunity for hands on learning, developing language skills as they role play, as well to build concepts and further understand the story.
I created my first prop box for a story everyone was familiar with, the classic Little Red Riding Hood. I used a picnic basket and filled it with a red blanket for a cape, pretend food, two puppets–an older woman for the grandmother and an animal, and a pair of glasses I created out of pipe cleaners. I told the story first during circle time, pulling items out of my basket, as I told the story. The children were very engaged–using the prop box items made the story come to life. After the story, I left the basket out to see if the children would use it. I don’t remember how long it took them to use it, but I remember working with another group and turning around to hear a child imitating one the voices I used for the different characters. I often used story prop boxes after that initial experience.
Although I am no longer in the classroom, when teaching my college early literacy class, I created a story prop box and read to my college students on the first night of the class to get them engaged and show them an idea they could use in their own classrooms. Even though they were adults, they loved it, and I hope you will too.