In my days as a kindergarten and preschool teacher, one of the things I loved was creating learning centers for my students. When I started homeschooling my kids, I wanted to bring this concept into our home. So learning invitations are the way we do this! One type of learning invitation we love is a Story Basket. It’s pretty simple: take a story your kids are familiar with and use props to retell the story. Retelling is an incredibly important literacy skill for kids to learn, and learning through play solidifies these concepts well. And these Story Baskets are such a simple, curriculum-free way to learn.
There’s more than one way to do a Story Basket (and it doesn’t actually require a basket!) , so I’ll show you a few different options.
- Pretend Play
- Felt/Flannel Board or Laminated Pictures
- Dramatic Play
Take small objects (figurines, toy cars, animals, etc.) related to the story to use as props, so your child can play out scenes from the story. You can see how I grabbed random objects for this retelling of Golidlocks and the Three Bears and added a dollhouse. I like to keep these objects together in a basket accessible for a short time (a week or two) so that my kids can come back to it over and over.
Do you remember felt/flannel boards from your own kindergarten days? (We called them flannel boards, but they were always made of felt, NOT flannel. HA!) These are fun and easy to make. You can use felt OR you can actually use my favorite medium: milk filters! Yes, it sounds a little strange, but these are stiffer than felt (so they are easier to cut out) and you can easily trace pictures from a book or from a printable (obviously if you’re tracing something, this is just for personal use). They stick to a typical felt/flannel board and last for years. I made these Goldilocks pieces when my now 13 year old was probably only four or five!
Make simple puppets with printouts (search on Pinterest with the name of the story like: “The Three Bears printables” to find simple pictures to print), laminate or print on cardstock, and put on a craft stick. You could also make simple finger puppets with felt (or enlist an older child to help with this project!) or even just an old sock!
This is similar to the Pretend Play option, but you’re going to find real-life objects your child can use to act out the story. For Goldilocks and The Three Bears, grab a chair (or three if you have enough), blankets or cushions for a bed(s), and some wooden or plastic bowls. Set them out together with the book and explain to your children what to do. This is a great activity for siblings to do together.
There’s really no wrong way to do a Story Basket learning invitation!
This Story Basket Learning Invitation idea can be used for so many different stories – just make sure it’s one your child has heard at least once before. For younger children who don’t read yet, choose a story that’s very familiar to them. It’s such a great way to learn those retelling skills through play!