Are you familiar with story baskets? They’re a hands-on, interactive way to encourage reading that kids will love. Story baskets can focus on any book or book-related themes you choose and they are simple to put together. Let’s take a look at how to use story baskets to encourage reading!
Story baskets are an excellent tool for toddlers and preschoolers, but they can also be helpful for older children — practicing speech, storytelling skills, imaginative play, developing early literacy skills, and more. They can be as simple or as complex as you like and don’t have to cost anything to put together. Just use found objects from around your home and books you already own or can check out from the library to fill it. Simple, inexpensive, and a great way to encourage fun reading time!
What to Include in Story Baskets
When I fill up a story basket, I begin with the basket itself and the book I want to highlight. Next, I flip through the book and look for key characters or objects that help tell the story.
For example, in The Very Hungry Caterpillar it would be a caterpillar, a leaf, a lollipop, cheese, watermelon, and a few other similar items. Then, I gather as many of the items as I can find. I can usually do this by going through our toy and craft supplies to find play food, puppets, figurines, etc. These items go into the basket with the book. If I can’t find a key item, I will cut something out of foam or maybe use a picture from a magazine.
If my child is working on a particular skill such as beginning letter sounds or sight words, I will include relevant letters in the basket as manipulatives as well.
Does it have to be a basket?
Not all. You can use a small tub, a dish drainer, a bucket, or whatever you might have. A big bowl would be fun for a cooking theme. Of course a basket works very well to contain your story treasures. You could also use a bag or fabric storage bin. There is no right or wrong way. Story basket is just an idea — make it yours and use what you have. It should be fun not stressful!
How might you use a story basket?
This depends on the age of your children. When I first began making story baskets, we started with one book and focused on the items to go with that. As my daughters got older, it became more of a themed basket with several books and hands-on items.
How to Use Story Baskets
Here are some activities that we’ve done:
Include a favorite book (one they already know) with a few props that go along with the story for your child to tell in their own words. Or they could follow along with the props as you read aloud.
You can put in random items and have your child make up a story using some or all of the items in their story.
Have your child pick out an object at random and tell or write something about it.
Leave the basket out for your child to discover. Change it out when it no longer seems to hold their attention.
Bring a story basket along on car trips, while running errands, waiting at the doctor’s office, and waiting in restaurants.
Allow your child to choose the book/items and YOU continue the story.
Some of our favorite preschool to early elementary books that lend themselves well to story baskets are:
- If You give a Pig a Pancake
- Goodnight Moon
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- The Gruffalo
- Fairy Tales
- Bible Stories
I’ve been doing this for years with my daughters and they are always a hit. We take a delight-directed approach in our homeschool, so I build story baskets and unit studies based on their interests. It’s like a treasure chest of learning centered around great books!
Have you used story baskets? Let us know in the comments!
Sara is a homeschooling mom of three girls. She writes at Heart and Soul Homeschooling, sharing ideas for learning that encourage creativity, curiosity, character, and connection. She is an author, speaker, and homeschool consultant. You can find her on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon author page.