Busy Hands: Storytelling Props

I like how Little Dude is developing his vocabulary, so I wanted to do an activity that would encourage him to use his language skills in a creative manner.

Storytelling, both for the person engaged in telling the story and the listener, is such a creative and enriching process. I know my toddler has reached the stage where he can put his imagination into words. True, not everyone can figure how what he's saying all the time, but he still tries hard to explain himself!

The activity I came up with is to create simple props that would help him to tell a story. I did this by making a few of my own and mixing them up with toys he already has. Combining meant a little less for me to do, and familiar items for him to work with!

I set up a farm scene because we already have a farm set (that we also used in this Sandy Cloud Dough activity). The first thing I made were these trees that I really wanted to try after finding them on Pinterest (find the original post on the Ukkonoona blog). They are really simple to make using only coloured paper, toilet paper/kitchen roll tubes, and markers.

Here's what the set-up looked like, and if you're wondering what a Minion is doing there, I'll explain below!

This is a break-up of the elements I used in this storytelling set-up:

1. Toy Truck 

2. Farmer - We didn't have a toy that could be turned into a farmer, so the Minion dressed in overalls was our best choice! I made him a farmer's hat using a TP roll and coloured paper. Little Dude hasn't seen the movie so he was none the wiser.

3. House - Simply made by making a square from pink card stock and placing yellow 'roof' on it.

4. Pond - I cut out a pond with coloured paper on card stock, and placed a small rubber duck on it.

5. Trees - The paper trees we made above on which I drew apples, oranges, and leaves with a marker.

6. Farm animals - We have a toy set with grass, a sheep, a cow, and a horse.

7. Hay - Vermicelli placed on a lid. We often use this material in sensory bins.

I didn't want to put in too many elements, so it would encourage imagination, and also to prevent distracting him too much. I started by asking him to describe the scene and then asking him to tell me what was happening on the farm. He didn't do too badly for a toddler! But he was fixated on making the truck the main character of the story (I guess it was because this particular truck had eyes!). And it was a naughty truck who went into the hay and made all the animals run away! It was fun as he used the props to create a story that sometimes didn't seem very logical but that wasn't what we were after, anyway. We had a good time doing this activity and have been using these props for different types of play.

Tips for encouraging storytelling using props:

  • Ask questions about the scene, the characters and what they seem to be doing. 
  • If the storyteller gets stuck, join in and offer prompts for what could happen next.
  • Let their imagination run wild, and affirm what they say.
  • Use this as an opportunity to improve language skills and introduce new words.
  • Let them play quietly with the props if they are not in the mood for storytelling, and try again later.

This is a good exercise for:

- Encouraging creativity
- Sparking imagination
- Pretend play
- Improving communication
- Bonding
- Expanding vocabulary

While I shared this activity with toddlers and preschoolers in mind, older kids can probably try it too by making their own props. 

(Busy Hands is a series about activities and craft you can do 
with toddlers and young children).

This post has been linked to:

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The Go To Mum said...

Love these great ideas for props. We'll have to give them a try

Train Driver's Wife said...

This is such a lovely idea and so open ended. thanks for sharing! Your props are so cute by the way!

Visiting you from the Let kids be kids Linky

Julia Nyanyo said...

What fun ideas. I love to see a mix of shop bought and home made toys being used together.

Tarana said...

Thanks, glad you liked them!

Tarana said...

Yes, there's no limit on imagination! Thanks.

Tarana said...

Thanks, yes, it's easier to have a mix than making everything from scratch, although older kids can do that.

we3threeblog said...

this is so lovely. brilliant ideas. i love how much effort you've put into this...who needs technology and fancy equipment when u can make things more fun yourself? #LetKidsBekids

Caroline said...

What a fab idea! I may have a go at something like this with monkey, his vocabulary is coming on a lot really quickly - nowhere near storytelling yet but it would probably be a good way of helping even more! Fab idea thanks Tarana xx #letkidsbekids

Hodge Podge said...

Great post - it's amazing seeing what a toddler imagination dreams up, isn't it..?
Thanks for sharing at #Pintorials

Becky said...

This is such a great idea! Totally trying this with my two! I love hearing the little stories that they start to make up now they are 2 and 3 #letkidsbekids

Tarana said...

Thank you, I got a little carried away with it I think, but it was so much fun!

Tarana said...

It doesn't have to be a story in that sense, maybe even a narrative. You can always give it a try and see how it goes!

Tarana said...

Thanks, Tasneem! I found the toy farm set at Babyshop if you want to get one.

Tasneem Rajkotwala said...

Yes, I think I will buy one for him.

Karen Bell said...

What a great idea. Thats a fab way of encouraging so many things, imagination, creativity, learning, the list is endless!
Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

Tarana said...

Thanks, Karen!

Katie Pinch said...

I love the prop ideas and I can't get over how cute that tree is! thanks for sharing at the Love to Learn Linky party. Please come back and share again every Thursday!

Tarana said...

Thanks, Katie!

J Peabody said...

Tarana, as a Preschool Teacher and Administrator, What I love best is that you used what you had and made the rest! You didn't wait for some matchy-matchy set to be bought for your child so everything would be perfect! (that's got a wink and a nod attached) I'm being sacrcastic there but you get the big picture here and it's a point I want to stress- Whether you are a Preschool Teacher, Homeschool mom or just a plain old involved parent: This is a great model to follow! You've added texture , context and playability! Thanks for sharing your days with Little Dude, with us.

Tarana said...

Thank for your encouraging words, especially since you are an educator! It can be a challenge to convert my ideas into reality, but I do what I can with my resources.

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