Updated: Oct 22, 2022
Here are the 10 picture books that I believe every teacher or household needs. It was HARD to choose my top 10 but when I thought about how many extra copies I had to buy of the books and the number of story baskets I had created to bring them to life and then I was able to settle on my 10.
1. We’re going on a bear hunt
2. Dear zoo
3. The very hungry caterpillar
4. The Gruffalo
5. Owl babies
6. The rainbow fish
7. The 3 little pigs
8. The tiger who came to tea
9. The colour monster
10. Giraffes can’t dance
So WHY story baskets? They are hands-on, play based and can be put together with items you have or a small collection of items you can store and use over and over again. You can use them to support any interest and curriculum area. They are transportable, open ended and children LOVE them!!
1. I have made We’re going on a bear hunt into a story basket more than 10 times! I have used story spoons, story disks and story stones. Each uses images from a sticker book, some have the stickers and others are a photocopy of the stickers. Don’t forget the cave! The best cave I have used is a coconut shell with a circle cut out as an opening. I managed to make story spoons and story disks with one sticker book and reduced the size of the stickers on a photocopier by 15% for the story stones.
You will see that each story basket contains the characters but differs in the items to support the story line. What I add is based on observation and a process I use and teach in a 7 lesson mini-course that will have you making and sharing story baskets in a few hours.
2. Dear Zoo has also been made many times in as story basket and each based on the different interests of the children. From enveloping or enclosing schema to animals they loved or lost. I have used plastic animals, soft toys, bought story stones and up-cycled books with felt containers.
3. The very hungry caterpillar is often a seasonal favourite when butterflies are seen in an early childhood setting or ravenous caterpillars are trying to be feed. I have made them for children who have been interested in counting, the days of the week and posting with my FREE posting tin e-pattern. The posting tin is also a fabulous way to transition children from group time to lunch or a rest time. You call children to feed the caterpillar and then they go to wash their hands etc. The soft toy caterpillar was a go to for some time and reasonable when bought with the book.
4. The Gruffalo has been a wonderful story for children to explore telling stories and tall tales and what can happen. I stared out by using stickers from an activity book, to buying knitted puppets and then to making my own spoon characters.
5. Owl babies is a beautiful story that I use as a story basket to settle or transition children who miss their family at drop off or during the day. We would have all heard “I want my Mum” as a teacher and can relate to Bill the baby owl. I have used soft toys, crocheted and knitted owls, finger puppets, wood buddies (featured in my FREE e-book of foundation items for a story basket) and created some spoons.
6. The rainbow fish is a go to book to support sharing and talking about what it means to be a friend. A story basket offers the opportunity to share the items BUT more importantly the scales. This was the first story basket I made that uses my 'spoon hoods' , a felt hood that slips on and off a wooden spoon. I made this so as to be able to reuse a wooden spoon for different characters and stories. The children LOVE to make the fish swim with the spoons!!
7. The 3 little pigs is best told without the book and props in my opinion. Who can’t resist ‘huffing and puffing’ or being one of the 3 three pigs with hairs on their chinny-chin-chins! The houses made started out basis with wood and developed with my obsession with craft sticks till I created some story spoons. It is a FREE pattern that uses a transfer technique which helps those who can't paint like me.
8. The tiger who came to tea is an oldie but a goodie! The storyline reflects a past time with the roles of men and woman BUT the absurdity of letting I tiger come in the house to tea captures every child and adults imagination. I have created story baskets with toys and tea sets with vintage items for everyone to enjoy to a posting tin to feed the tiger.
9. The colour monster is one of the best books to explore emotions and feelings as it uses using colour, language and actions or behaviours to describe them. Describing emotions in these ways empowers children to understand and talk about their emotions.
Lee wanted to take the black colour monster and put it in his pocket for the day and asked to. I was curious to why and he said he was scared of a hyena. I asked where the hyena was and when he was scared. He said it was on a movie and he dreamed of it. I asked what colour monster may help him with this feeling. He said the yellow monster and I offered both for the day. I spotted him a few times during the day taking out the story stones and ‘talking’ with them. The yellow monster was saying it was OK to feel afraid to the black monster and that he could be brave. This was magical.
10. Giraffes can’t dance is relatable for anyone who has said they can’t do something or feel they can’t. It encourages children to give things a go and I have used the story basket to support children to try something new or something they find hard with it.
The cardboard finger puppets have also been great for children who need support with strengthening fingers and dexterity.
These 10 books and story baskets are part of my mini-course group times 100 list which is a tool that prepares you for over 7 million group times (spontaneous, small or large). Another reason I have these as my 10 books is because of the many extension possibilities but that would be another blog.
Until next time.
P.S. there are affiliate links in the blog and if you buy anything I may get some money