Using a Prop Box in the Social Studies Classroom

Because Halloween is around the corner and it’s the best time to look for classroom props, I am reposting a blog entry that was originally released last school year that provides a wealth of ideas for creating prop boxes. Enjoy!

I recently reviewed some of the early submissions for TCI’s TeacherGenius feature. A submission from one of our trainers, Kristi Grubaugh, got me thinking about the power of classroom props to make learning more authentic, creative and a bit more fun for both the students and the teacher. I frequently use props for act-it-outs, mini-dramas and experiential exercises. I am always amazed by how the props transform the experience–students are instantly more creative and focused.

So, how do you get started with a prop box? I asked my teacher friends (pretty much the only kind of friend I have:)) for ideas about what should go into a classroom prop box, and I got an earful. Besides more obvious things like hats, glasses and microphones, I learned that bed sheets are indispensible in a prop box. They can be used as a curtain for an impromptu stage. They can also become clothes, blankets, tents, wrapped up babies, backdrops and just about anything else you can think of. I compiled all the ideas that I gathered for must-have classroom props into one document. If you want to create a prop box, take advantage of our collective genius and use this document as a starting place:

Prop Box Ideas for Social Studies Classrooms

If this list leaves you wondering where to find all these great props, I have a few ideas for that. First of all, clean out your closets and ask others in your school community to do the same. Belive me, once word gets out about the creative things you are doing in your social studies class, parents will start filling up your prop box! Once your closets are clean, start looking at garage sales, second-hand stores and the dollar store. Of course, the best time to hit the dollar store is the week after Halloween. Oh, and in case you were wondering about Kristi’s idea that got this whole rant started, she uses lab goggles and bendy straws to create scuba equipment for her budding archaeologists when they “dive” into a sunken ship to examine why explorers came to the new world. If you have a great lesson adaptation like this, or an idea for using props in the classroom, share your genius with the world! Send your idea to today!

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