Story baskets offer so many possibilities for creative, open ended play. They are quick and simple to put together using items collected on nature walks, favourite toys, blocks and felt scraps. After seeing the beautiful fairytale story basket created by the lovely Anna at The Imagination Tree as part of our joint Playful Storytelling series, I was inspired to create a story basket for one of R’s (4 yrs) favourite books – One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth.
One Snowy Night is part of the Percy The Park Keeper series. In this sweet tale, full of the most delightful illustrations, Percy finds his animal friends need his help on a cold and snowy night, and one by one an entire menagerie come to his hut looking for shelter from the freezing weather.
I filled our story basket with a few scraps of felt and some felting wool, pine cones and natural wood blocks, a mirror (to represent a frozen pond in the park), popsicle sticks, a plastic toy from R’s train set to represent Percy, and some animal finger puppets. (Our finger puppets were purchased from IKEA. I bought them a couple of years ago but I think they do still stock them).
R spread out the white felt to make some snow covered ground and added the pine cones, wood blocks and other elements to make the snow covered park in the story. We use these natural elements all the time in our imaginative play – they’ve been used for everything from a dinosaur world to a frog pond. He then began retelling the story of One Snowy Night adding in his own stories – such as the photo above where he’s taking the duck for a swim in the pond.
Story baskets are such a lovely way to encourage language development, imagination and creative thinking. This was a wonderful quiet time activity for R and he sat contentedly creating stories and new characters to add to the original tale.
In the story, all the animals pile in to Percy’s bed to keep warm and it soon gets a bit crowded! I simply cut one large and one small rectangle from felt, and voila! Instant bed. The animals in our set of finger puppets are not the same as the animals in the story but that’s the beauty of this kind of play. Things don’t need to be perfect. I find that if I just provide R with a starting point, he’ll take things in his own direction. It made no difference to him which animals we used – he even added the giraffe and elephant finger puppets to his story!
At one point in the story, all the animals become frightened by strange noises coming from beneath the floorboards of Percy’s hut. Much to Percy’s amusement the noises are not a monster, as imagined by the animals – it turns out to be a sweet little mole. I added popsicle sticks to the story basket and R used them as the floor boards. Our finger puppets don’t include a mole so a little bear came up through the floorboards!
I adore the open ended nature of story baskets. While the initial idea behind this basket was for retelling the story from a favourite book, the elements can all be used in so many ways. The felting wool can be snow, clouds, rain or even wind. The wood blocks can be used as trees, or stacked together to make a house. The felt can be blankets, picnic rugs or snow. So many hours of creative play to be had!
Don’t forget to pop over to The Imagination Tree to see all of the wonderful Playful Storytelling ideas that Anna is sharing.
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