One of my favorite activities to prepare and present to young children are story plays. A story play is a unique way of story telling for children. Instead of reading a book and showing the pictures, I read the book aloud while moving around small props and characters to ‘act out’ the story.
I typically lay out a piece of fabric or a blanket and children gather around to watch. Every time I have done a story play you could hear a pin drop in the room. Children are engaged as some of their favorite stories are brought to life.
One of my favorite books, and one of my favorite story plays is “Alfie’s Long Winter,” by Greg McEvoy.
The book is perfect for fall or winter! Whenever I do a story play, my students are excited and mesmerized when I present.
This form of story telling for kids is something that I have become very passionate about. I have found that there is incredible value story telling in this unique way. It is also a wonderful way to make books memorable.
To set up a simple story play, simply decide on the main characters that you will need as well as the setting. You don’t need to have a full setting for every single part of the story, just the main ones. Six different examples of story plays that I have created are below.
Alfie’s Long Winter Props
The props for “Alfie’s Long Winter,” are fairly simple. I have a tree branch with holes drilled in it and then branches with leaves attached to show the changing seasons.
The story is about a leaf, named Alfie. Alfie is afraid to jump from his branch when fall arrives.
As fall comes, all of the leaves change color. To show this I glued green and orange/yellow leaves to the end of different tree branches. As I told the story, I took out the green leaves and branches and replaced them with the fall leaves as children watched.
One by one, all of Alfie’s friends jump from the tree and fall to the ground. For the friends I simply glued googly eyes to craft leaves.
Alfie, however, holds on tight and remains in the tree. He is too scared to jump.
When all of his friends are raked up and taken away, Alfie realizes that he is all alone.
Through the cold, harsh winter, Alfie remains on the tree, regretting that he didn’t jump with his friends.
Finally, as spring rolls around, new buds grow on the tree and Alfie is now older, and wiser. When fall comes again, Alfie is happy to jump first for his new friends.
The story is adorable and really well written. It always captivates young audiences and presented as a story play it brings the story to life.
After I have done a story play, I will often re-read the book the next day and show the children the pictures from the book.
The illustrations in the book are beautiful and children think about our story play from the previous day and the characters moving as I read. This is what I love about story telling for kids.
As a follow-up, every child created their own “Alfie”. Children were so excited to have their own Alfie to take home and retell the story to everyone at home.
This was a very rewarding activity that I feel strengthens a love of reading and books. To me, there is nothing better!
Story Telling for Kids Extension Ideas
Over the years I have created and presented several story plays. One of the favorite things that I often hear from children is how they recreated a story that they read at home using stuffed animals and simple props.
Some of the props that I create are time consuming. I love creating them, but other time the props are simply things that I had around my house. Use what you have and keep it simple!
I have included a few more examples of ideas for story telling for kids. These are other examples of story plays that I have presented. Take a peek through for ideas and inspirations for the props and set up.
Story Play #1
This story play was for “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter. The book is a classic! I used small toy bunny figures that my kids already had at home for each of the characters.
I reused the tree from “Alfie’s Long Winter” and a small box was turned into the garden shed, plastic play food became the garden and a shiny blue sheet of fabric was my stream.
It was fun to move the characters around as I retold the story. Children also had the opportunity afterwards to play with the different props at a center in the room. It was wonderful to hear them retelling the story as they played.
Story Play #2
We even had a story play for “The Three Little Pigs”. Since story plays have become so popular in our classrooms an amazing student teacher created a story play for this classic story. A link to a full description of this story play is included at the bottom.
The props were excellent and detailed and even included music for sound effects as it was presented.
Story Play #3
The next story play was a book about the first day of school. The story took place inside a box. At first the box is closed with a roof set on top to keep the sides up for the first part of the story.
Once the story setting changes and the characters arrive at the school, the roof is lifted off and the wall fall down to revel the school. I loved this special effect and the reaction and excitement from the kids made it worthwhile!
Story Play #4
The next story play included small animals as the main characters. I created the racoons from clay and glued fuzzy felt for fur. I was also able to find various forest animals made of natural materials for the racoons friends.
A string of lights added to this story play!
Story Play #5
Sometimes I will simply give the children a collection of materials that I would use to create a story play for a book we have read. I don’t actually present the story play or act it out.
Instead I put all of the props that I would use at a center and allow children the chance to create a story play and retell the story. This can also be a great opportunity to let children present their story to their peers and is a simple drama activity.
If you create a story play and try doing a story telling for kids activity in this way, I would love to see it.
For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.
More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
Looking for more learning activities for kids at home or school? Below is a collection of my favourite, and most popular hands-on activities, from outdoor activities and building challenges to escape rooms and printables, I’ve got lots of ideas to keep kids busy and learning.