Putting together a story basket for your children’s favourite book is a great way to expand on traditional storytelling! Setting the scene in a small world kind of way allows children to relive the story over and over again. Not only will they be the story teller, they might even make up their own side stories and alternative endings. There will be a deeper exploration of the main characters and the background scene as children are able to physically manipulate each aspect of the story. Sit back, observe and enjoy these adorable moments in play!
Find out below what we chose to put in the Good Night Gorilla story basket and read how you can easily put one together yourself.
What is in the Story Basket?
Anything can go in the story basket. Story baskets are originally baskets with random objects from the play room, daily life or nature which prompt children (or adults) to tell a story using those objects.
In this case we put together a story basket based on a book my children love: Good Night Gorilla. Usually when we put together a story basket for a specific book, we try to find items that match the main characters or scene setting of the story.
Let me show you the images and talk you through the different scenes:
The story is about a zoo keeper who does his last round of the day, saying good night to all of the animals. Then things just don’t quite go as they should …
We used our Djeco stacking blocks as the animals’ homes. For every animal that features in the story we found a representative from our own mini animal collection. We didn’t have an armadillo, so I wrapped some yarn around a little dinosaur and it did the trick!
Our Duplo police officer played the zoo keeper. He used one of our Playmobil people’s lanterns as a flash light and we made him some keys from a loom band, paper clips and a safety pin. (Please be mindful of potential hazards when using small and/or sharp little objects in play and always supervise your children.)
The loom band worked brilliantly. Small people can easily switch the keys from the zoo keeper to the gorilla themselves.
My children thought it was hilarious and my daughter spent quite some time figuring out how the gorilla could have stolen the keys without the zoo keeper noticing. “He must have been very sleepy that evening, mommy!”
The mouse and the banana had to be present too of course. This handmade felt mouse is huge compared to the tiny mouse in the story but we don’t seem to care much.
I took a banana from our LEGO set and glued a rubber band together with a glue gun. This way the rubber band held the banana and the children could put it around the mouse themselves.
To set the scene I used one of our play mats. The one you can see on the images has been around for over a year and survived all sorts of toddler and preschool shenanigans with surprising grace!
I confess that I made this little felt bed just for the occasion. I couldn’t resist. Most of our figurines have their own beds and there’s a tutorial on them here should you want to take a look. We think it’s adorably cute and I enjoy these little handwork projects so much.
If you have no time or interest in making something yourself, you can use a wash cloth, handkerchief, winter hat, plastic container or whatever you or your children can come up with at the time!
We also recycled the little cardboard door from our “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” scene, which is simply cut out from a cereal box, taped with painter’s tape and drawn on. Children quite like using real functioning little doors to put their animals and figurines through!
Make your own Story Baskets!
Story baskets are a lot of fun and so incredibly easy to set up. You don’t even have to go into much detail, that is just something that I personally enjoy doing. I’m a big fan of small world play (have a look at all of our small worlds here) and the details are what I love most about setting up play scenes.
It’s quite fun to look at certain aspects of the story and think about how you can represent them in your basket. My daughter (who is almost 5) loves thinking along with me and together we brainstorm about which animals and figurines we’ll use and how to set the scene and work out the little details.
I think it’s a great exercise in creativity and ideally you’d leave children to their own creative processes. But since I enjoy this so much too, it’s something we often do together in our family.
Also, not all children naturally gravitate towards imaginative play and some might need a bit of support. Having a book and a story basket is a great and safe way to venture into the world of imaginative play: you have your story line and your props and by playing out the story you can gently stretch those little minds by asking questions and exploring alternative scenes along with them.
Have a look at our other story baskets here for ongoing story basket inspiration.
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