I already shared a book about the Three Bears that my children always made to retell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but before we made that book we read and retold the story. I used these props to tell the story to my class:
These were 2 sided, laminated pictures that stood up. I used to sit on the carpet with the children at circle time and I put out these figures as I told the story to them. They were always amazingly quiet when I told a story – they were great when I read to them too, but they were so engaged when I was telling a story.
The 3 Bears is a great story to introduce the story elements because it has very clear cut characters, setting, problem and solution.
When I told them the story I tried to give them the language they would use when they were acting it out. I usually chose a few children and acted it out at circle time – I was the narrator and the children added in the dialogue. After we acted it out once or twice the children started taking more ownership of the story. Then I left out the story telling props for the children to use at free choice time. I loved hearing them use the story vocabulary and great expression!
These were designed to be masks, but I punched holes and strung them to be worn as necklaces.
When we acted out this story I found 3 different sized bowls in the classroom – I think the smallest one was a margarine dish. We also had 3 different sized chairs – the smallest was a light stool that was easy to tip over when it “broke.” For the beds I took 3 colors of roll paper and cut them in 3 lengths – the longest for Papa Bear was about the height of the children. I drew a very simple pillow on the end of each paper. Then I taped all the papers on a wall so the children could stand against them when they were pretending to lie in bed. For this story we usually just acted it out in the middle of our circle. Sometimes I had all the children scoot back to leave a “stage” area in the front.
The children loved having a chance to be one of the characters and really took ownership of the story. My favorite published book of The Three Bears was James Marshall’s book. I loved how Papa Bear yelled “Patooey!” when his porridge was too hot!
We acted out and retold Little Red Ridinghood and the Three Little Pigs in very much the same way. Starting out with familiar stories like these really helped the children feel confident taking on the roles.
Another important reason that I really believed in acting out stories was to help the children see other points of view. All young children are very egocentric, but as they begin school they need to be able to have empathy and understanding of other children’s needs too. Lots of behavior problems can result from a child who just doesn’t understand that his needs or wants don’t take precedence over everyone else’s. We need to help children think about other people, other perspectives, other points of view. Taking on a role as they do when they act out a story – or get involved in dramatic play – can really make a difference.
I will be sharing a few other stories that my classes liked to act out!