The Patel Conservatory theater department presents a great idea for an easy, fun, at-home performing arts game you can do as a fam.
If you’ve got random household objects plus a restless young’un or two running around, then you’ve got just about everything you need for this quick-to-arrange, easy-to-cleanup theater game from our pros in the Patel Conservatory theater department. It’s DIY arts education at its quarantined best.
Matt Belopavlovich, theater department artistic director, pulled this activity, Personal Prop Stories, straight from the lesson plans of our performing arts school just for you. Plus, we have a specially-recorded demo from our Patel Conservatory theater managing director Audrey Siegler showing you how this game works—recorded from her house with her kids because, hey, we’re all at home right now with 24 hours to fill.
The instructions below are best suited for ages 3-10, but you can adapt it easily by using a more challenging title, the addition of dialogue and a more complex prop selection for a great storytelling improv for older kids.
Here we go!
Personal Prop Stories
This activity usually fills 15-20 minutes of our drama lesson plan.
What is a prop? An object used on stage by actors during a performance.
What You’ll Need:
Two or more players. The more the merrier!
Something to write on like computer paper, sticky note, used envelope, etc.
Something to write with—i.e., fancy pen, standard pencil, colorful marker, etc.
5 to 10 household items
- Ideas: stuffed animal, kitchen utensil, piece of home décor, piece of clothing, pantry item, office supplies, gardening tool
- Suggestion: Try grabbing one or two things from each room in your home.
1. Set out all the props on the floor or a table.
2. Clear a small space to be your stage.
3. Write “Title,” “Characters” and “Opening Line” on your writing material.
4. Choose a Scribe (writer) and Director (activity moderator).
5. Assign a “prop discard” area.
Time for Fun:
1. The Director asks the group of actors for a random story title. This could be something silly like “Purple Banana Goes to the Mall.” The Scribe writes down this title on the paper.
- The title will help everyone stay “on story” as the activity continues.
2. The Director asks for two main characters and an opening line. The Scribe records these on the paper.
- Main characters example: Purple Banana and Brown Pear (protagonist/antagonist)
- Opening line example: “Purple Banana needed a new shoe and went to the mall.”
3. The Director counts to three and everyone says the opening line together.
4. All actors act out the line.
- For example, everyone looks at their imaginary old shoe and walks in place as if they are headed to the mall.
5. Each actor gets a turn to be the narrator by choosing a prop and adding a line to the story. Their story moment should be inspired by the prop.
- Example: If Mom chose a winter hat she might say, “Purple Banana stepped outside and realized how cold it was. He ran back inside to grab his winter hat.”
- The Director should encourage actors to introduce the second character as the story progresses. For younger actors, encourage the conflict and second character connecting somehow.
- Example: “Brown Pear stole the winter hat from Purple Banana’s head and ran away.”
6. All actors would then act out the story moment actions such as pantomiming a door and running inside to put on a pantomimed hat.
- Discard the prop after it has been used in the story.
7. The final actor’s prop should somehow conclude the story. Once their full turn is complete, the Director counts to three again and everyone says, “The End.”
Prop Story Teaching Tips:
- Review some simple parts of the story with younger kids such as Beginning, Middle, End, Conflict, and Solution.
- If playing with only two players, each take two turns, creating four total story moments.
- Disinfect all props before and after your storytelling journey.
- Rotate Director and Scribe roles with each new story.
- Repeat the game as much as you wish with different props.
- Make up new elements that could be added to the story such as random lines written before the activity and selected out of a hat during or after each story moment.
Most of all, have fun.
Stay tuned: We’ll be back soon with a new performing arts activity you can do at home.