What’s in Your Closet?

Xan Regan

Lesson Goals

Students will know how to unlock the tools of their inner closet to better understand characters in literature.
Students will use textual clues to design costumes and props for characters in a play.
Students will be able to justify their costume and prop choice and explain how they contribute to better understanding of the text.

Discover how you are outfitted with the tools to be anything you want to be. Students will explore the tools needed to be better readers, actors, dancers and designers. As they explore characters in an integrated and holistic way.


Costume word cards – what’s in the closet secret characters
Book “Paper bag Princess” by Robert Munsch
Paper bags from the grocery store at least one per student.
Tape, multiple rolls and kinds
Scissors for kids
Images of real princesses
Other books that have princesses as significant characters
Green screen Do Ink
Green screen


1.Think about times you might dress up or PRETEND to be someone or something else. An actor’s job is to pretend.
Small group Circle- I was thinking … Halloween, play,
Did you dress up?
Did you make or buy a costume?
What did you costume look like?
What materials did you use?

2.An Actor’s job is to PRETEND. In order to do this we must outfit ourselves with some tools.
What does it mean to Pretend? What is a tool?
Not tools like hammers, and saws! Not tools like pencils and papers! Dancers use tools like actions, and costumes and music. Actors use tools like costumes and make-up and words.

The tools we will be using, outfitting ourselves with are for everyone. You don’t need to buy them or borrow them because you bring them to school with you everyday.

3.Demonstrate students are watching – start in circle (music will cue you when to join the circle)
Body: silently bend over touch your feet and slowly rise (elevator) tracing the sides of your body until you reach your shoulders. This reminds use to use our body
Voice: The elevator stopped at this floor reminding us to use our voice. Take a deep breath in and let it out with a small sound.
Imagination: The elevator continues to move up and stops at the next floor. This reminds us to use our imagination.
Stop at your eyes: close your eyes and without using your voice or body take a vacation to anyplace in the universe. Go someplace happy.
Concentration: Now place your hands on either side of your eyes, blocking out everything beside you. Zoom your focus in on that one thing in front of you stretch your arms out to keep your focus on that one thing. This reminds us to use our concentration.
Cooperation: Now raise your hands up and bring them down gently on the shoulders or back of the people next to you. This reminds us to use cooperation.
Model the whole thing silently for the students. It is not a race. We will do it together, at the same time. How might a carpenter use these tools? A writer, athlete , scientist.

4.Lets focus on our imagination?
What is it? Look at different objects poly spots, scarves, ribbon sticks, spoons …
A better question for us might be- WHAT COULD BE?
Essential Question:
How are writers, readers, illustrators like costume designers and actors?
Like writers and illustrators costume designers play an important role in helping to better understand a play.

Put out a variety of Props and have students explore what it could be. Use stations and allow designers to play with all of the items. Have individuals share some of their ideas.

5.One-minute challenge:
Think: What is in a closet? Whose closet is it?
Share: I was thinking- shirts, shoes, suitcase, etc.
Plan: What should we make? What parts will we need? I’ll be …
Create: Tableau – French for picture -still collaborative representation of something
Secret storybook character -select a character that the students are familiar with but make note cards with items that might be found in their closet. (make them general enough that student will have to think)
Discuss how what we wear, carry, how we act and sound reveals something about who we are, what we like, when we live, where we live, our occupation, our emotions. Good readers listen and look for clues in the text and illustrations, just as audience members really on costumes, backdrops, body language music and actors lines to better understand the character and story. I have the name of a secret character in this envelope. Your job will be to figure out whose closet these items came from and why your team thinks that.
Divide into small groups and give each group a card with one item that might be found inside the secret character’s closet.
Make the first items vague or with few details so as you do not reveal the character right away. Allow the items to infer multiple characters. Apron: a grandmother (Little Red Riding Hood), or a maid (Amelia Bedelia), or a master chef. Hair bow: Angelina ballerina or Camillia Cream (“Bad Case of the Stripes”)
Items on the cards: shoes, dress, apron, hair bow, socks, etc. Have them make a prediction based on the item. Discuss how having only one detail makes it difficult to determine the character.
Combine 2 groups and let them discuss both items.
Did the new detail change your thinking? How does the new item affect your prediction? On the board, have the groups put all the costume pieces and props up so that students can read and discuss all the items found in the closet.
Discuss who you think the Secret character might be now. What makes you say that?
Why is it still difficult to recognize whose closet the items are from? Vague not specific.

6.Whose closet is it? I see I think I wonder.
Share picture of costume pieces from a storybook character. Show one picture at a time and allow students to think about who might own that costume piece or prop and why look at text to support your response.
https://www.adobe.com/be_en/active-use/pdf/Alice_in_Wonderland.pdf look at text and illustrations

7. Look at Real Princesses. What do you notice? How does their dress reveal something about the person? Think about what you are wearing what might it tell be about who you are?
Brainstorm items that might be in a princess’ closet. Princess tableaux same format as before.

8. Read the book “Paper bag Princess” by Robert Munsch Illustrated by Michael Martchenko. Discuss the job of a costume designer. Give each designer a paper bag, scissors, tape and tape measure. Have each one design and create the princess a paper bag outfit.

9. How does Princess Elizabeth’s character change during the course of the book? How is this character change reflected in her wardrobe choices? Create a distinct costume for the beginning, middle and end of the story?
You may only use paper tape and scissors -Bulletin board Roll paper in many colors for the beginning create paper costumes fit for a Princess. Paper bag costumes for the middle
End Inference: What would her wardrobe look like now? What makes you say that?
Using the green screen do a photo shoot of the designers in their costume. Put the new pictures into the book and highlight their work.
How do the new outfits work in the story? How would the story change if the characters costumes/wardrobe where different?
What if she did not find a paper bag? What if it was winter? What if …

Differentiation Approaches

Break it into smaller chunks
Use multiple texts


Performance tasks:
Paper bag costume
Paper costumes
Written script

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

The lesson above has built in extensions. It is a unit plan rather than a single lesson plans. Create costumes for a class play. Use it to communicate science/math.

Additional Details

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