Using Story Baskets for Sensory Play

It’s easy to make your own story telling baskets at home. It’s never too early to read to your little one and cultivating a love of reading is one of the best gifts you can give your child. Why not make reading even more fun by using story baskets of props and engaging your child’s senses?!

How to Make a Story Basket 

  • Pick a story that you think your child will enjoy. It can be a picture book, story book, fairy tale, song or poem. You don’t have to have an actual book, as long as you know what happens so you can tell your child.
  • Use toys and props that you already have in and around the house. Use your imagination: stones and twigs can represent different landscapes, pieces of fabric can be used as the sea or a river, soft animals can be characters and small toys or objects can be anything that is mentioned in your story!
  • If your child is old enough, ask them to collect the props and see what wonderful and creative ideas they come up with!
  • If you want to be adventurous, you can try and engage the senses in different ways. Use real fruit or food if it is mentioned in the story and encourage your child to taste and smell it. If there is a lake, pond or river, supervise your child splashing about in a bowl or sink.

How to Use Your Story Baskets

  • You can read the story and ask your child to pick out the props as you go.
  • They can re-enact the story using items from the story basket.
  • You could extend the tale you are telling, “What do you think happened next?”
  • You can bring the story to life for different age groups; a baby might like to play with the objects and listen to your voice or sound effects whereas an older toddler will enjoy going on a ‘treasure hunt’ for props or acting out the story for an audience.

The Benefits of Story Baskets

  • Story baskets encourage a love of reading can help lay the foundations for literacy, as they learn to sequence events, describe characters and plots and discover the magic of ‘Once Upon a Time….’.
  • Story baskets foster imagination and creativity. Children learn different ways of playing with toys and objects and this open ended play is fantastic for their development.
  • Language development is one of the main benefits; whether you are telling the story or they are, they are being exposed to new words, sentences and structures.
  • The use of story baskets help children to engage with a story using their senses. As well as hearing the tale, they can see the pictures or objects, feel and hold the props, maybe even smell and taste something in the story. For us, the story of ‘The Gingerbread Man’ isn’t complete without the smell of ginger and (if my eldest is lucky) a taste of a ginger biscuit!

I use story baskets at home, and we had a whole term of themes based around different books at SensoBaby. They were effective for pulling play ideas together for children aged 4 months to 4 years.

With so many possibilities to explore, why don’t you try making a story basket and let the magic come to life? Please share any photos of your own story baskets in the comments.

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