The Power of Props – First 5 Forever tips for powering up your library early literacy sessions using props

Library props

The recent First 5 Forever webinar discussed the many benefits to integrating props into Baby Time, Rhyme Time and Story Time sessions. Props are added into library sessions to enhance the level of facilitation and they can also:

  • Increase engagement and interaction with children
  • Enhance understanding of vocabulary and concepts
  • Enhance story comprehension
  • Provide examples and support opportunities which can be adjusted for different children and age groups
  • Allow for repetition of stories with variation

Props are anything that is visual that enhance the understanding of the story or elements of the story. Some of the types of props you might like to experiment with could include:

  • Puppets
  • Felt/magnetic stories
  • Found items (loose parts)
  • Parachute/lycra/scarves/sheets
  • Shakers and instruments
  • Maps, letters and other artefacts
  • Recordings
  • Objects/toys
  • Masks/costumes/hats
  • Drawings/pictures

There are many ways props can be used within library early literacy sessions. Below are a few examples:

Gumnuts in a pan

Props as a stimulus – they can stimulate interest and excitement before the story, provide opportunities for prediction and act as a prompt to retell or respond to a story. Some examples include:

  • A cooking pot with gumnuts, feathers etc to introduce Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan
  • Real or pretend food or a green pipe cleaner to introduce The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Washing basket or box to use as a boat before you sing Row, Row, Your Boat
  • Selection of found collage materials of all different colours to explore before reading Colours of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft

 Props as an explanation – to expand the understanding of vocabulary and concepts e.g. share a recording of a bird call, write a letter or highlight what the word patchwork means by showing a quilt. Some examples include:

  • A recording of a Southern Boobook owl to use during the reading of Mopoke by Philip Bunting
  • A patchwork quilt for children and families to see and touch when explaining the meaning of the word “patchwork” in Elmer by David McKee
  • A tall vase, rubber duck and water to pour to illustrate how Alexander the duckling is rescued in Alexander’s Outingby Pamela Allen

Library staff holding open a red sheet

Props as an invitation – puppets, costumes, masks, lycra, instruments and parachutes can be used to invite children and adults to actively participate in sessions. Some examples include:

  • Mop heads or pieces of furry fabric can be used as monster costumes when sharing Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • A selection of different hats for families to wear when sharing Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
  • A selection of animals in a small cloth bag or pillowcase for children or families to choose an animal to sing in Old MacDonald Had A Farm
  • Scarves, lycra or a parachute to use when singing Incy Wincy Spider, The Grand Old Duke of York or Here We Go Up, Up, Up

For more tips and ideas on including props in library early literacy sessions, watch the First 5 Forever Power of Props one hour webinar and access the resources here.