A wonderful way to engage kids in your presentation is by using props. A friend of mine has a collection of plush puppets representing each of the animal characters in her books. These are a terrific way to show kids attributes of the animals and can work well in a small library or classroom setting. But there are two issues when you give puppets to kids to help you act out your story in a larger venue:
1. In a large auditorium, puppets don’t make much of an impact beyond the first three rows
2. When you give puppets to kids, kids are fascinated with the mouths and usually fiddle with them as they try to make them “talk” – to each other or to the audience – and usually with their own improvisations. This is great for drama class, but may not advance the story you’re trying to share!
A more meaningful way to get interaction is by inviting the kids to become the animals themselves. Give each kid a bit of costume that represents the animal – ears on a headband, a nose, a tail. When you choose a volunteer, invite him or her to show the audience how that animal walks, what kind of noise it makes. Encourage them to use their whole body as they do this. Once you have your volunteers on stage, you can launch into your story using kids as the main characters.
Watch for costume sales close to Halloween. It’s a great time to pick up all sorts of props that can help you tell your story on stage with a bit of color!