The Gee family dressed in Star Wars costumes.

I love reading. I loved reading to my kids when they were young. I loved reading books to my students at Imagination Stage and telling stories as a professional storyteller. Whatever the circumstance or audience, I love being able to climb into a storybook adventure. You see, I don’t just want to read about Harry Potter, I want to step into that world.

Being confined to our homes these days is a great time to bring your family’s favorite stories to life. Reading stories with different character voices is just the beginning of creating at-home adventures. I am a mom of a middle schooler, a high-schooler, and a graduating senior and am thrilled to share with you examples for all ages and reading levels!


Suggestions for Families with 1-3 Year Olds:

Choose any book that takes place under the sea. Look around your house to see what props you can gather to create your very own ocean in your home! I keep my indoor ocean in a treasure box, but you could use an empty amazon box, storage container, or paper bag.

Things to put inside the ocean box can be:

– Water: large blue towel, tablecloth, or sheet

– Seaweed: green streamers, ribbons, or pictures of seaweed

– Fish: stuffed animals, cut-out paper fish, or photos

– Undersea Flowers: plastic flowers, Hawaiian leis, magazine photo flowers

– Shells: real shells if you have them, photos of shells, homemade paper clam shells

– Spray Bottle of water to spritz the air above your child’s head or a small bowl with water to sprinkle drops of water on your student so they can “feel” the ocean

I like to play the song “Octopus’s Garden” by The Beatles. You simply take each item out one by one, working together to create your undersea garden and indoor ocean. Be sure to encourage your child to touch the items and place them into the ocean. Then read the story together! Some great options are I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean, Rainbow Fish, or Swimmy.

Suggestions for Families with Pre-K through 2nd Graders:

Students in one of Alison’s classes at Imagination Stage.

I like pirate stories or superhero stories for this age group! A great book is How I Became a Pirate. I like this book because the kids can repeat the “lines” that the pirates say throughout the story. Here are my ideas to enhance this story experience:

– Make treasure maps! Using white computer paper, black crayon, and some wet tea bags you can create a very old looking treasure map where X marks the spot.

– Hide something in your house and create a map with clues for the family to follow on a treasure hunt!

– Take an old shoe-box and create your own treasure chest.

– At dinner have everyone dress up in a pirate costume (made from clothing already in your home) and talk like pirates for the evening.

– Take the game Simon Says and turn it into Captain Says (swab the deck, batten down the hatches, hoist the sails, etc.).

Suggestions for Families with 3rd through 5th Graders:

My choice for this age group is Harry Potter! After reading some chapters out loud, or listening to the audio books as a family, it’s time to create some wizarding characters.

– Use old robes, graduation gowns, and witch hats for Hogwarts uniforms.

– Create wands using sticks from outside or those chopsticks that are leftover from a takeout order. Using a glue gun you can create different looks for your wand! Paint them with leftover paint, spray paint, or deck stain.

– Make a list of spells and what they do. Then turn a quiz of those spells into a fun game!

– Make dragon eggs by using hard boiled eggs and dyeing them with food coloring.

– Have the whole family join Transfiguration class! Each “student” takes a turn using their wand saying “I turn you all into dogs!”  Immediately everyone starts acting like a dog. See which and how many interesting animals you all can transform into!

Suggestions for Families with 6th through 8th Graders:

Create an online book club with other families. Each child can choose a book and then host a virtual book club! The host can create discussion questions, pick a chapter to read out loud, and create an activity to go along with that book. Here’s an example:

The Hobbit

– Invite participants to dress up as characters from the book for the virtual meeting.

– Create a trivia game.

– Create your own tiny hobbit hole using junk materials around the house!

– Create your own Hobbit adventure together online, taking turns adding one sentence at a time to a group story.

– Plan an online Netflix party to watch the movie together!

Suggestions for Families with High Schoolers:

– What about reading out loud a Shakespeare play they studied during the school year and then watch a film adaptation of the play?

– If they read Percy Jackson or are a Star Wars fan, have family members write a short scene to act out together. Maybe film it as well and create a short movie!

– Create an animated short story.

– Dress up as your favorite literary character for the day or evening.

– Make or bake food from the time period that the story takes place. If Percy Jackson was a favorite when they were younger, make an entire meal with only blue food like Percy’s Mom does for his birthday.

I find these activities are great for the weekend. It helps to break up the work/school week and gives everyone something to look forward to at the end of the week. My own family has been having dress up days since the quarantine began. Some have been simple, like wearing fancy clothes or masks. We have raided the attic costume bins and have also done cowboys, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and barnyard to name a few. Allowing for some creative, imaginative fun in your week is a great way to relieve stress, bond as a family, and create some special memories.

This is such an unusual time in our lives. On behalf of all of us at Imagination Stage, we wish you and your family good health, and new adventures!

Alison Gee

Alison Gee, Senior Faculty at Imagination Stage, dressed up as her storytelling character Beatrice Pickles.

About the Blogger – Alison Gee, Senior Faculty Elementary Grades K-3 at Imagination Stage, earned her MFA degree in drama from Syracuse University and studied with Shakespeare and Company. For over twenty years, Alison has worked with children in theatres, schools, day camps, and residential Summer camps. She was the Director for Kid’s Kingdom at both the Virginia Renaissance Faire and the Bristol Renaissance Faire, where she wrote and performed in numerous shows. At Imagination Stage, she most recently assistant directed the ISPE productions The Secret in the Wings and Antigone, and directed the SOOS Company’s 2015 production of Fanatics. She also is a professional storyteller and her local performances include events at the White House, the National Cathedral, and Imagination Stage. As an approved MCPS Cultural Artist she has been an Artist in Residence at numerous Maryland preschools and elementary schools, and is currently the director of Husky Drama at Silver Creek Middle School. In addition to performing, directing, and teaching drama for children, Alison has lectured at regional camp conferences and other workshops on the topics of theatre games and creative play.


Members of the Imagination Stage Education team.

Our Commitment To You

Keep coming back to our blog and social media for more ideas and activities for you and your little ones to do at home. Even though our classrooms and stages are empty, Imagination Stage is committed to doing everything we can to continue serving our children and families during this unprecedented time.

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The ghost light shines on in our Lerner Family Theatre.

Keeping the Mission Alive

Imagination Stage has always had a grand vision: to empower ALL young people to discover their voices and identities through performing arts education and professional theatre. For the past 40 years, we are proud to have empowered 1.5 million young people and their families through theatre performance and education experiences. You make these experiences possible. 

We are dedicated to making sure that our community and staff remain safe and our arts and education programming remain strong. In light of the current global health crisis, for the next two weeks, we are suspending all programming including professional theatre, education, and community initiatives. We are working hard to ensure our operations and mission are not impacted by this necessary closure. Your donations are critical to helping us achieve this goal. Thank you for being part of our community. Your support, now more than ever, is vital to keeping our mission alive.

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