How to create a story basket that will engage young minds. Tips and Tricks.

Updated: Jul 31

Story baskets are a fabulous hands-on way to extend, engage and enrich. Be it language, fine motor skills, thinking, mathematics the list goes on.


The question is how do you create one? What do you include in it and how do you share it? Here are a number of tips and tricks to help. If you want more details and support then my story basket mini-course may be for you!!


Creating one starts with noticing an interest in a book or a general interest and sometimes a resource that sparks your or a child’s imagination. Next is to recognise what is of particular interest to the child or children, it is the characters, the actions, the schema or urges or something else. Once you have this in mind you are ready to put a story basket together. Being open to children wanting to add to it or go in another direction.


I start with a basket. I use one from Kmart as it is a good size and easy to stack or store. It is not too big as I have a tendency to add too much and this keeps me in check.


I then add material. This is for aesthetics, to make the basket inviting but also as a prop for the story. I like second hand scarves or napkins but also fine tulle. Second hand is cheaper and can be used as loose parts in general play too. If there is any kind of sea as there is in Tiddler then I use blue fine tulle, if there is grass for example Shark in the park happened in a park I would use a green napkin or material and 10 little pirates something that felt pirate like.


I then look at the main characters. You can either provide them or if there is just one main character leave them out so the child or children can imagine that they are them. Let’s take a simple book, Harry and the bucketful of dinosaurs. Children were interested in dinosaurs and I had just found this book at a second-hand store. I decided that the child or children would be the main character Harry and that I would add the props. I kept this simple and just added a bucket and dinosaurs. This took under 5 minutes to put together. Use what you have is my first go to. You could use plastic ones but I used wooden ones. The children loved retelling the story, counting the dinosaurs and transporting the dinosaurs.


For more complicated stories I like to make storyspoons, storydisks or storystones. I also like to work smart and not hard and use stickers or images off the internet. I have found stickers for ‘we’re going on a bear hunt’, ‘room on a broom’, ‘monkey puzzle’, 'Gruffalo', ‘a ladybird heard next’ 'Stick Man', The snail and the whale and

'a squash and a squeeze’. I am slowing working my way through making them.









I did my first attempt at painting with Kei te pehea koe? How do you feel? the same technique is used with stickers for sealing with mod podge but you need to be able to paint. Not sure that I can but got the hang of it eventually.



Sometimes an item with spark a storybasket. Be it an interest of the children or a find. This basket came together with placemats that had pockets. I knew I had the book Angelica sprockets pockets and thought this find was perfect for the book. I didn’t worry about finding the exact items she put in her pockets but used felt items I had. The children were all about the enclosing schema and loved it.



I always have loose parts on hand: stones, sticks or drift wood, wood cookies, wooden peg dolls, neck ties, trees (wood or hand made with hessian). These are often the key to inviting hands-on play. The very crank bear was put together with loose parts and in under 6 minutes, the extra minute was because I could not find the cards!





On my page This is why I teach . ec I offered to create a basket for teachers and had a few takers. What was really interesting was when I asked the teacher who requested little red riding hood what they had noticed was the favourite part of the story for the children and she said Grandma’s house. Before asking this, I had in my mind that I would make a basket with props as the children in my setting are into dramatic play at the moment. The children soon found a basket with a handle and on reflection I should have put it out in this.


BUT when she said this, I had to re think and knew I had to find a house and the characters. This was easy enough apart from the big bad wolf. I could not find one. I have yet to decide how to tackle this. I found a black wooden dog it is much larger than the other pieces but may be what I use when I introduce it to the children.



Grandma's house was the favourite part of the story.

Sharing it starts with reading the book a number of times or after observing it being read / requested a number of times. With younger children I would role model re-telling and with the older I may sit with them the first time and observe. It is always good to observe and see where the interest is and adapt it if necessary. I would offer it a number of times and it is easy to take outside too.


The beauty of a story basket is that it can be for any age group. It is portable and transformative. It can follow any interest, schema or curriculum area. The real question is will you try one?


You may be interested in making story basket for non-fiction books or want to know my 3 rookie mistakes when making a story basket.


Want to learn more of my secrets? Then you may be interested in a 7 day challenge where you not only learn them but also make and share a story basket in 7 days! You can do this as a mini-course or LIVE.


Until next time

M


UPDATE- I now have a mini-course where I show you all I know and support you to make and share story baskets https://www.thisiswhyiteachec.com/product-page/self-paced-make-and-share-a-story-basket-in-7-lessons-or-days

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