What is a “story sack” and some story sack ideas
A story sack is fantastic activity for you and your child to to have fun whilst contributing to their learning and literacy. It is a way of making reading memorable and enjoyable. Quite simply, it is a bag (or box / basket) that contains a copy of your child’s favourite book and various visual aids that relate to the plot and characters of the story itself. Through acting out and engaging your child with the story you will be able to support their development of knowledge, communication and empathy whilst stimulating their senses.
How do you use a story sack?
Firstly, remember that you are helping to build imagination and conﬁdence so try not to have too many ‘rules’, the activity should be fun! Depending on the age and nature of your child, you can be more structured, with questions and supporting activities. There is no right or wrong when using a story sack and they can used in different ways. At the beginning of the story all the items will be contained within the sack, including the book. Your child may like to get all the items out of the bag individually as the story plays out, or may lay out all the props at once from the start. Sometimes, whilst they are getting used to the idea of what story sacks are all about, your child may want you to lead the activity and handle the props, but once they become more established they will soon want to lead the story telling! Create a safe environment for your child to explore the story, characters and themes by listening and repeating ideas but try not to correct them.
What skills am I helping my child to develop?
Conﬁdence – You will probably notice an increase in conﬁdence as your child embraces story sacks. It gives the opportunity to speak a story aloud, describe their ideas and feelings long before they are able to read. They can ‘tell the story’ purely from what is remembered or take it in a direction they feel more suitable at that moment in time.
Empathy – When acting out characters in the story, your child will have a deeper understanding of the emotion that individual may be feeling during the plot of the story. It also aids understanding of the relationships between characters within the book. You can stimulate their thinking by asking questions such as ‘how do think think that made … feel?’ or ‘what do you think … was feeling?’.
Storytelling skills – The ability to share and express your thoughts through role play is a fantastic life skill. Your child will enjoy being given the opportunity to be creative and express their ideas.
What else can I do with the story sack?
Some children will be content to act out the story using the visual aids you have provided. As time goes on, you may ﬁnd your child is ready to expand on the activity and enjoy more structure. Here are some suggestions as to how to develop understanding:
- Include activity cards in the sack
- Think of games to play that will explore the story further
- Ask questions about the characters or themes in the story
- Create recipes that could relate to the story or have been mentioned
- Use food along with the story to stimulate the sense of taste eg The Hungry Caterpillar
- Have paper and crayons available to draw characters or a map of the story
- Use modelling clay to re tell elements of the story
Examples of Story Sacks The Grufallo by Julia Donaldson – Can be used for creative thinking and exploring ideas. Your child (and you) will love to act out the characters using your voice and actions to stimulate their senses. You could create a cooking activity for some of the food mentioned in the story eg Owl Ice cream or Gruffalo Crumble. View wooden Gruffalo figures at Babipur here
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen – a fantastic story for sensory play. The example in this picture uses sensory pouches (made from laminate pouches sealed on all sides) which is ideal for children from a young age to engage with the story. Because of the language used during the adventure there is a great deal of emphasis on movement and sounds so it is ideal to include some music or instruments. This story is also great for connecting with nature, thinking about the outdoors and also weather activities. Holztiger wooden figures can be found here and all kinds of doll people here
The Lion Who Wanted to Love Giles Andreae – This is great for talking about the ‘moral’ of a story and helping your child explore themes of family, friendship and empathy. Holztiger wooden figures work really well with this one.
Friends by Helen Oxenbury – A much simpler story sack for young readers. From a very young age your child will be able to identify the pictures and start to associate them with the objects you are showing them. You can stimulate hearing, sight, touch and taste (if the mouth the pieces which they inevitably will!). Pictured here with Lanka Kade natural wooden animals
What is your favourite story to read with your child or children? Can you see how you can turn it into a story sack?