PROPS MAKE BOOKS A KINESTHETIC EVENT! WHEN YOU make books experiential for children, you engage their creative minds, their playful bodies, and their listening ears.

As the year draws to a close, it's the perfect time to revisit some of children's favorite books and stories and perhaps meet some new "book" friends. Read on for some exciting end-of-the-year activities to do with child-made props.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Spy Glasses

What did Brown Bear see and how did he see it? Perhaps he was using a spyglass to help him see all those wonderful things in the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You see? by Bill Martin, Jr. Provide either paper towel tubes to make a spyglass or toilet paper tubes (two each) for children to make binoculars at group time. All you need are stickers, markers, and tape.

Later, as you read the book, children can use their handmade props. Invite children to add lines to the story by using their spyglasses to "see" other things in the room.

Nursery Rhyme Play

How well do children know their nursery rhymes? Here is a fun way to find out. Fill a large bag with props that represent objects mentioned in nursery rhymes you have enjoyed in class this year. You might include a small pail, mouse, clock, dish, spoon, horn, a plastic spider, and a big shoe. Children can use them to act out roles in a nursery rhymes charades game. Build creative-thinking skills by inviting children to use the props to make up a new rhyme!

Make a Cap for Sale

Many teachers use the classic book Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina as a group-time starter in the beginning of the year. Revisit this beloved book by inviting children to make their own caps. Children can make their caps out of paper bowls with a stapled front "bill" made out of a crescent-shape piece of oaktag or construction paper. Children can then paint their caps to match the colors in the story! These can be made at the art table and, when finished, brought to story time. When it's time to read, collect all the caps and place them in a pile on your own head as you read the story-playing the role of the peddler. Children will know by your reading when to "steal" the caps and pretend to be the monkeys.

The Many Faces of Alexander

The end of the year can be a moody and emotional time for children. Use the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst to get those feelings out! After reading the book, invite children to discuss how Alexander felt. What were some of the emotions Alexander was feeling?

Bring art materials to group time for children to make simple paper plate masks on craft sticks showing an angry face on one side and happy on the other. Reread the story as children use their masks to be the many faces of Alexander.