Back in college, I had to take a class on creating activities to go along with children's books. Several of the assignments in this class involved creating props to go along with books. The idea was to have students practice retelling stories using props. Throughout the length of the course, I created props for different books. I'll be sharing all of the books throughout different posts, but, today, I am going to share my favorite!
Have you ever read Old Cricket by Lisa Wheeler? It's a great read aloud and lends itself to so many learning standards easily! The premise of the book is Old Cricket wakes up in a not-so-great mood one day, and his wife asks him to fix the roof. He says he doesn't feel well to get out of having to fix the roof. He soon encounters many obstacles in his day and by the end of the day, he REALLY is sick! It's a charming story with repetition, wonderful illustrations, challenging vocabulary, and a moral. Students will certainly be engaged!
Now, that you have an idea of what the book is about, I want to share the props I created for students to act out the story in a retell lesson. Keep in mind, these photos were taken in my college dorm back in the day!
First up are the background scenes. Old Cricket basically has two settings - at home and outside. To create the background scenery, I used two science fair project boards.
For Old Cricket's House, I painted the entire board green before covering it in green leaves (found in the home décor/crafts section at Walmart where rocks and vases are) and brown mesh/plant material (not positive on what this was!). The green leaves were stapled to the board, while the brown mesh (used for the door) was taped to the board.
For the outside scenery board, I painted the majority of the board blue (for the sky) and then painted some clouds and a sun once the blue paint had dried! Then, I painted the rest of the board green and brown for the ground. To create vines, I stapled some green "vine material" to the board. It's the same material from the leaves used on the other board. I also glued some red pom-poms (berries) to the board near the vines. I don't want to give away the story, so you'll find out what those are for once you read the book!
Now, onto the characters! I remember these be so fun to make. I created masks for Old Cricket, his wife (first two masks on the top), Katydid (green mask on the top row), Uncle Ant and his family (seen on the bottom row), Old Crow (feathered mask), and Doc Hopper (seen on the bottom row, green and has glasses). I drew the masks on poster board, colored, cut out eye holes, and hole punched spots to tie ribbon. For Old Crow's mask, I traced an eye mask on poster board before covering it with black feathers. Then, for the beak, I cut out a diamond on orange construction paper, folded it in half, and glued it to the mask.
Let's talk story props now!
One great thing about creating a retell kit for Old Cricket is that it truly doesn't require a lot of props. That makes it pretty easy to assemble! For this book, all you need are two small gift bags with handles, a bag of black feathers, and a bag of yellow pom-poms! Again, I don't want to give away the story, so you'll know what these are for once you read the book!
That's all you need to have students act out Old Cricket to retell the story! This is a book and retelling activity students will TRULY enjoy and learn from. In today's classroom, we really do not have the time to dedicate to activities such as this, but if you can find time to do a retelling act every now and then, your students will truly benefit.
To Recap - Materials List:
- 2 Science Fair Project Boards
- Paint: Green, Blue, White, Yellow, and Brown
- Pom-Poms: Red and Yellow
- Poster Board (to make masks)
- 2 Small Gift Bags with Handles
- Black Feathers
- 1 Sheet of Orange Construction Paper
- Green Leaves and Stems (if you can't find stems, just paint those!)
- Ribbon (to tie masks)
- Hole Punch
- Brown Plant Vase Material or Hay
- Black Marker