Storytelling must be the oldest form of literacy, and what child does not enjoy a great story, whether in book form or audibly. It can be a truly magical experience! Before i get into the concept of story baskets, I want to talk a little about why I began creating my own story baskets.
Why Story Baskets?
As a very young child, to say that I loved to read is probably an understatement. I did not just read books, I consumed them.
Every piece of literature in the house was read from cover to cover, and nights were spent under the covers with a torch just because I was so caught up in the stories that I needed to finish them.
In fact, I was not just caught up in them, I felt like I was in them. A good author could transport me into the story and I felt like the characters were my friends, and the scenes were described to the tiniest detail so well I could visualise them, almost hear birds singing or smell fresh cut grass.
Almost to the point, where forty years later even the mention of certain stories takes me back and I can still visualise that one scene, or how I imagined it at the time anyway. It was like a memory of somewhere I had actually visited.
It was not just books, I also enjoyed sitting listening to stories, real and made up. Some I am still not sure of, and knowing my Grandfather they were most likely exagerated.
Whether I was seeking knowledge or entertainment, or was just escaping to another reality, I only remember that it was magical and this is what I want for children, my own and others. To be able to awaken the passion for the true literacy experience that will take them wherever they want to go in the future.
My baskets are not meant to prevent reading but to compliment the experience and create a sense of wonder from infancy that eventually leads them to a love of reading.
As an educator working with children from birth to five years of age, I was often creating my own resources to enhance children’s learning. They could be puppets, books, games, songs and music.
The list is endless but storage in the centres where I worked wasn’t. I was always taking up too much space, which any of my former colleagues will contest to.
I began to start collecting items relating to certain books or topics that children were focused on at the time, keeping them in separate containers or baskets to bring in and take home again at the end of the day. Thus freeing up storage space in the centre as well. (I, am sure the other staff were grateful).
I continued this with science and nature research type books with great success, which will be in a later post.
This worked well, and the children loved playing with the contents and props afterwards. They would revisit the story, telling it in their own way and acting it out among themselves.
Sometimes we continued this by making our own finger puppets or masks and
using dress-ups to continue their role play. Even children that could not usually sit through a story were getting involved and learning.
Because young children still do not have the ability to read print for themselves at this stage, we naturally read to them and making it interesting draws them into the stories. They begin the process of understanding how books are read from the front cover to the back, and that big bold words on the page (if pointed out by the reader) represent exclamations.
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Not all the baskets had props relating to a particular story or interest.
I would fill a basket with a number of random items such as dinosaurs, stones, little dollhouse people, fabric and other assorted bits a pieces, and just leave it near the block corner or set up in an area of the playground. It was amazing to observe how children used it to create scenes and tell stories to each other.
Some of the children used this opportunity to share their interests, their fears and opened up communication with others, strengthening relationships. We could learn a lot about who they were, their beliefs, their families and what they enjoyed doing.
These props allowed children to create the most incredible, imaginative and unique stories. They were not limited by the objects presented to them but in fact it encouraged them to use their imagination and draw on knowledge from the world around them.
Children are learning so many important lessons about life through storytelling and if it is interesting enough for them in the early years, they will listen and hear the messages we are instilling in them.
The type of messages they hear, help them to develop an understanding of things like
- others lifestyles, cultures
- feelings and behaviour
- morals and general life lessons
- safety and danger
- within the family they learn history, identity, lineage(whakapapa)
- where they originate from, their roots (pepeha)
Benefits of story telling
Through story telling, using books, props and role-‘play children develop the ability to
- express themselves, their feelings and share ideas
- be imaginative and creative
- to enhance their social competence and learn to communicate in non threatening and appropriate ways
- share information
- develop language skills and
- understand and appreciate humour
The idea of using story telling baskets and props alongside traditional books is an enhancement of the literacy experience and also loads of fun. Children are learning so fast in the early years, and we would like these type of experiences to be positive and challenging, to extend their knowledge and instill in them a sense of adventure, curiosity and confidence.
Its not just a basket filled with junk, its a doorway to another world, with amazing possibilities and the ability to ignite the spark for future learning.
I would like to challenge you all to think about the type of messages we want to share with our children, and how we can provide these in interesting and dynamic ways that they will not only hear in the moment, but that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.We want them to look back fondly on the experiences that have impacted on their future.
Why not put together a basket of items that represent your child’s favourite story, nursery rhyme, or their lastest interest.
What did they or yourself enjoy most?
What other ideas did you incorporate into your experience?
Send me a picture or leave a comment or feedback to share your experience.
Have fun making your story baskets!