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3 things that surprised me about a nonfiction story basket.

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

1. It's easier bringing a nonfiction book to life than you think!

2. The children led and added to the story basket more than fiction books.

3. Interest lasted longer than I thought it would. Children dipped in and out of it over a month.

This month in storybasketeers I created a challenge where members made a story basket for a nonfiction book. I had made one or two baskets based on a nonfiction book but this is a small percentage overall to the 200+ I have made for fiction books.

I am not sure why I have not made more. I guess I love a story and thought it was easier to bring a fiction book to life. This was where my first surprise came in as this turned out to be an untrue. I based the challenge on a simple inquiry model and after observing and listening to the interest and questions the children had I selected a book about the seashore (I did create another about another interest in sunflowers too).

These are the questions I noted that led to the story baskets.


"Why are they called a fish when they don't look like a fish"

"Are crabs good pets?"


Why do sunflowers grow so tall"

"Will a sunflower grow inside my tummy because I eat sunflower seeds?"

Here are my initial story baskets for both. I say they are initial as this led to my next surprise. The children were much more hands on in what they thought the story basket needed. With past fiction story baskets the children added to them BUT with the nonfiction story basket this was different. The children were more intentional and explicit about what was needed and why.

A starfish was the main focus of my story basket but the children wanted seaweed. My seaweed was ‘off’ so I had to get some more BUT a child went to the beach and brought some in. Engagement in the nonfiction story baskets were similar if not the same. What was different was the ownership and suggestions not only for the story basket but also for activities.

With the sunflowers a child suggested drawing them and another using magnifying glasses “like their Pop”.

A child brought in a crab shell and rather than adding it to the story baskets asked for sand and water. This child and others requested this many times over the month and this was my next surprise. From this lengthy engagement there was more wonder, questions and depth to our conversations and the children’s interests.

The interest in seaweed grew and so did the invitations to play and explore it! The tuff tray was out often and the seaweed didn't get time to dry out in between.

The inquiry model as a foundation created more intentional and openness in my teaching. This led to some wild questions, hypotheses and wonderings.

This inquiry cycle had a good rhythm where there was listening and then providing. I started the inquiry as the teacher but when we got to the second 'listen to' I became the learner. We went through this cycle many times over the month. The children documented their own learning through drawings and taking photos.

The other members of storybasketeers created baskets for a frogs life cycle, a bug hotel and the deep sea, to name a few.

I am thinking next time I will start with a basket a cloth and book and see where the story basket goes. I hope you try a nonfiction story basket and discover your own SURPRISES.

Until next time.


P.S. if you LOVE the ideas of challenges and injecting story play into your setting then JOIN the waitlist for storyasketeers here-

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