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5 ways to use your story stones, not including a story basket.

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

Many of you have shared the story stones you have made after reading my blog and seeing my posts on my page. Like me you LOVED how quick and inexpensive they were to make. In fact, some of you appear to be more OBSESSED than me!

I am still making them for story baskets but I have now started using them in other ways. If you work smart and not hard you could use them for all. I have used the Where’s Spot story stones for 4 out of the 5 and of course in a story basket, you will see these soon.

1. sensory bin or tray play

2. games

3. small world

4. suitcase story/ play

5. as is, make an extra stone from each story

BONUS ways

Sensory bin or tray play

Grab a bin or tray, any shape but the key is the depth and size. Too deep and it is tricky for children to get in and play. You may be tempted to go deep so as to avoid spills and mess but the strange thing is that the deeper the tray the more spillage I have seen. There is no ideal size for a tray, it is more about the play being individual or collaborative.

If it is a sensory bin or tray you add the sensory element next and it usually covers the boom of the bin or tray. You can use leaves (I collect and store dried autumn leaves), coloured salt, plain or rock salt, sand, bird seed, woodfire pellets, shredded paper and Leca clay balls etc. I do not use food items. I have yet to use water with my story stones, they are sealed but I have not tested how waterproof they are.

I have used my Rata and the waka story stones in sensory trays inviting the children to retell the story with the book and without it. A child showed an interest in Tane and I set up a sensory tray that doubled as a sorting activity where the children could add which stone character belonged in which tray.

They have been a perfect extension for Where’s Spot? I wrote the positional language and spatial concepts on stones with a permanent pen (you can remove it with tea tree oil and a cotton ball). Not forgetting a stone for ‘NO’ every child’s favourite word. Where's Spot? Has also bee published in over 50 languages and here I am using the te reo Māori book Kei hea a Spot?

Story stones made for Ocean and Vehicles were used in tray play. The book offers te reo Māori kupu or words which is a great addition for a teacher to add to conversation when a play-partner with children.

I also made some Atua stones from images in Peter Gossage's book In the Beginning. These were initially to support and interest in Tane that came from the story basket Rata and the waka and a 'sorting activity' but soon became a rich story telling experience in a tray.

I discovered the images on the back of the Matariki stickers were the perfect size for story stones so I photocopied it and made some. IO had considered using river stones but went with the white.

I found some space stickers and used these on blue Tuscan stones rather than the white (black would be even better if they had them). You make the stones the same way as photocopied paper. These were a great addition in small world play and bookish play. As seen here with the book The way back home.

Now is this tray play or small world play? I have put it under tray as it has a tray.

Now you can also go BIG with the tray and use a tuff tray! I used one for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The size means more items and more children to play. I first set out this on a table as a small world but there were so many children wanting to play, I decided to try a tuff tray. In the first one I used my small crocheted circles and these were a little small so I got some placemats for the next time.


The Where’s Spot story stones have been great for memory games, I have used them on a tray and covered them with a cloth and removing one when the children have their eyes closed. With this pattern you could also present the box or felt hiding place and ask can you remember who or what animal was hiding in the piano. You could also use them outside and create a map of the playground and give clues or go on treasure hunt with X marking the spot.

Small world play

Small world play can be created by the teacher or by the children. I like to offer loose parts and items for children to create their own small world play. Instead of peg dolls or other resources I use the story stones.

A small world can also be a dolls house or here a pet bed house can be used with story stones. I have used mine for Goodnight Moon and Where’s Spot? I was tempted to make this another 'use' as I do call it our 'storytelling house' but I resisted.

A book can add an invitation to retell the story which I often provide. A favourite small world invitation to play I offer is “tell me a story” and you can do with story stones (see the final way for another open-ended way). You may also spot the stones with no images, they are a great addition to small world play.

Suitcase story play

A suitcase is like a large story basket or contained small world. I have used the story stones to develop or enlarge a story basket here with Room on the Broom and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

As is

I like to make an extra 1 or 2 story stones from a story each time I make a set. Trying to be strategic and make ones that may go missing or be popular, for example the Bear for We’re going on a bear hunt, the kittens for Goodnight Moon and Spot from Where’s Spot?

I put the extra stones in an organza bag or conatiner for the children to grab and add to their play in the block area or small world play. I also grab them for small groups times.


Names or letters or words or numbers can be written on (and removed with eucalyptus oil) or mod podged on. I have made a number set that has become a firm favourite and will make a few more sets to put in an organza bag for children to add to their play. I have a child who counts to 100 and I am tempted to make a 100 set!


I am now on the lookout to use the story stones I have made in more than one story basket and I think I have found one for Rata and the waka story stones but I will leave that till another blog.

Until next time


P.S. there are affliate links that if you use I may get some moolah at no extra cost to you

P.S.S. to make them- you just need the stones (I use Bunnings Tuscan stones that are resin), mod podge and images (stickers or photocopy images). You ‘paint’ a thin layer of mod podge all over the top of the stone and then place the image on and add another layer of mod podge on top. Leave to dry (around 2 hours) and add another layer. Leave for 24 hours and add a sealer (optional but helps prevent them sticking and adds water resistant).

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