TT5: Props!

Tuesday Top Five:
Props!

It’s no surprise that I really enjoy having a variety of props with me at all times. At work the other day, we got a huge shipment of simple but cute superhero capes and masks. One of my co-workers said “Oh Kate, I can just imagine you running around like a lunatic with one of these things on in a session!”.

She’s not wrong.

I talk a lot about my passion for integrating play skills within music therapy, and using props is one of those ways! Kids will turn whatever you have into the object they need it to be, so I never describe my props to the clients. I simply set them down on the floor, let them explore, and then ask questions to see if I can find out what they’ve made this prop into with their imagination.

Here are my must-have’s:

  1. Doctor Kit: Working with children who have medical trauma has demanded that my sessions hold space for processing deep emotional content related to doctors, hospitals, medical equipment, and health-related experiences. I found this doctor’s kit (in the target dollar section!) and it’s been so wonderful. NOTE: With medical trauma, it is never a good idea to push the topic or push a prop such as this one– the child will explore it when the child is ready! I use this prop a few ways:
    • Vocal Improvisation: Allow the child to direct the play, using vocal improvisation to track what they are doing.
    • “Doctor, Doctor”- I have a structured song for kids who WANT to explore wit the doctors kit about checking ears, eyes, nose, mouth, etc.
  2. Puppets, Puppets, PUPPETS!: The power of a cute little puppet goes a long way! I have two right now, a bear that hides in a log and a bunny that pops out of a hat. The hide-and-seek effect of these puppets has come in handy for a variety of things. I use them for the following:
    • Communication Skills: Using simple songs that incorporate peek-a-……….BOO! and such to promote speech skills is super effective with the addition of a visual cue such as a puppet.
    • Conduits: I’ve asked questions to kids and they have fallen flat so many times. But, when a puppet asks a question, it’s a different story. It’s just one step away from the vulnerability of two people, so often kids say a lot more to a puppet.
  3. DICE!: Surprising right? Big Foam Dice. Activity Dice. Listen & Roll. Enough Said.
  4. Plastic Food: Again, working with children with medical needs sometimes results in very complicated issues revolving around food. Here’s a few ideas:
    • Communication Skills: So. many. food. songs. (Fruit Samba, Apples and Bananas, etc.)
    • Social Skills: Passing food around the “table” for Thanksgiving is always one of my favorites!
    • More Vocal Improvisation: Let the child lead the way and see where they go!
  5. Costumes: Granted, right now I have a tiara, cat ears, and one cape/mask for my costume inventory. But again, kids will turn it into what they need it to be! A few ideas:
    • Child-Led Pretend Play: I love letting the child lead with costumes because often you are given a role and it’s valuable information to see the dynamic they choose to act out. Pay attention to the interpersonal connection within the session and what that may mean for them outside of the session.
    • Movement: How can you not want to get active in costumes? I often use Spotify to put on movie soundtrack themes (Spider-man has been the favorite lately) to support the dramatic effect of the costumes!

I could go on and on, but these are truly my top 5. I always have them and bring them to lots of my sessions. Let me know your favorite props– I’d love to add a few more to my arsenal!!

Kate

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