Story Baskets

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.

The Concept

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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Sharing Information

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

And finally

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!


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30 Replies to “Story Baskets”

    1. Thankyou Wendy. Drop in anytime to check out all the latest creations and feel free to leave comments. I enjoy hearing how relevant these are to others. Thanks again😊 Cass

  1. I too love to use story baskets. My favorites are nature stories since I am madly in love with the natural world. I am fortunate that in my job I am able to share how the children benefit from story baskets and treasure baskets in workshop trainings I create. It brings me the most joy to watch my little granddaughter become totally engrossed in play, pretending and acting out the stories with the props at the age of two. Thank you for your inspirations they ar greatly appreciated.

    1. Thankyou so much for sharing Sue. Sounds like we are kindrid spirits😀 Nature is also my passion and I hope to be able to provide workshops to early childhood settings in the future. So glad you found it inspiring and thanks for taking the time to drop by.
      Regards Cassandra

  2. What a wonderful adventure I just experienced and it brought so many childhood memories for me Cass
    You are a gift to our children and I love coming to visit and will looking forward to buying some treasure baskets for my grandchildren for Xmas
    So awesome thank you

    1. Thankyou I really enjoyed writing this piece as it too brought back childhood memories. It reminds me why I enjoy teaching so much. Yes i am already working on some special treasures for your grandchildren. I hope you will like them.

  3. These story baskets looks so beautiful, and it is like you said, you can educate childs very easy with this, about other cultures, they can understand this much better.

    I had a lesson one time with it and I still remember it, so with that you can already see how good it is.

    It was about Guatemala, and for us in Western-Europe was a new horizon, and strange in that time.

    Anyway, I have some ideas for my childs because this post.

    Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Thankyou Emmanuel I appreciate you taking the time to browse through my post. Yes the cultural perspective is very important when nurturing the learning experiences for young children. Cheers Cass

  4. Hello there,

    Literacy is a very beautiful as well as powerful tool to teleport a person to the whole new world and allow him to explore it with a huge excitment and joy! The most beautiful thing about literacy is its ability to visually recreate an imaginary world in a reader’s head and allow him to experience the whole new feelings and sightnings as well as hear new voices and find the different meanings of life. I really admire and appreciate Your quote- ”To be able to  awaken the passion for the true literacy experience that will take them wherever they want to go in the future”. I love this quote because it shows that diving into the world of true literacy and fully acknowledging it with Your heart and sould opens the door for true eye-opening and spiritual experiences which allow a person to view the whole world from much wider perspective. Thank You for this gorgeous and captivating article and keep up the good work!

    1. Evald  I am touched by your beautiful words, Thankyou so much for your feedback. You have truly brightened my day. Regards Cassandra

  5. Wow, Cassandra, your writing is amazing.I felt like I’m into a story while reading your post.

    Once a week I’m doing babysitter for 2 kids at the ages 4 and 6, and I tried to find a good way to expose them to stories but It seems like they are not interested in listening to my stories. So, it seems that story baskets are a very good way to teach and educate children, I’m going to try it out in the next time.

    Where did you get the Idea of using story baskets?

    Thank you.Shai.

    1. Hello Shai,  I got my idea while working with young children and it just sort of evolved naturally as I responded to their cues really. Thankyou so much for your comments, and feel free to share your experiences when you try your own baskets out. Cheers Cassandra

  6. I absolutely love this idea of storytelling and I confess I have never heard of story baskets.  This really combines a lot of fun and creative elements for kids and adults to venture beyond the written word of reading a story.   I think your idea of random objects and trinkets in a basket is brilliant)….allowing the storyteller a big canvas with a vibrant palate of colors and themes to weave a new tale.   Like other forms of art the end result is always unique and timeless.  Great motivation.

    1. Thank you Tim, i think you just created a vibrant story of your own with your very creative writing. Thanks for sharing and stopping by. You have brightened my day. thanks again, Cassandra

  7. Wow I love these baskets, there’s something special about them that draws me to them!

    I remember back in school we would be set projects to create story baskets where we would need to explain certain items we have included and why, anyway it basically takes me back down memory lane so thank you for that.

    Thanks for sharing,


  8. Hi Cassandra,

    This is really  interesting. Of course our young kids enjoy listening to our stories, be they from our real life experiences or by just reading books to them.

    With your suggestion of making story baskets, all the more that they would be visualizing our stories and of course their imaginations will be enhanced and their creativity as well.

    I don’t have little kids anymore but I could tell my sister and cousins about your suggestions.

    Thanks for sharing.


    1. Hi there Marita, yes i think the real life stories are just as magical as the made up ones, and are part of who we are.

      Thank you for your interest.

      regards Cassandra

  9. Hello dear Sue,thank you for sharing this post. I like story telling too. As a teacher of language, i have to open the basket of stories to make my lesson active and interesting. All people like stories not only children but also adults.When i was young my mom used to tell us a story of a little girl and the monster,truly it was like i was living the scene of the story. 

  10. Hi, 

    Thank you so much for writing this article, it is very informative. 

    I too remember vividly the stories I heard as a child, it was great to be able to let my imagination interpret the words, In fact, I would spend hours in the library reading books whenever I got the chance. Now that I have a child myself, it has become important to use story time as a way to both spend time with him as well as teach him. Your story baskets look very interesting. It’s a great way to bring the written word into the physical world. 

    Thanks again.



    1. Hi Shane, thanks for stopping by. Yes I think when you become a parent you begin to revisit those special events from your own childhood, the things that bring back fond memories and then we want to recreate them for our own children.

      Cheers Cass

  11. I love the idea and concept of story baskets, such a great way to bring out a child’s imagination.  I  have many wonderful childhood memories of reading great books, and I always would read in bed under the covers and get lost in the story.  Story baskets  sound like so much fun, I wish someone thought of them when I was a child.

    1. Hi Jenny, thank you for popping in and reading my post. It seems there are many of us out there who experienced the same joy of reading as children. I think the baskets tend to extend on that experience a little more. Feel free to pop in anytime! Cass

  12. What a great idea! We are always looking for ways to enhance story time with our granddaughter who is five and who lives with us on a permanent basis. I was so happy to come across your site and be introduced to the story basket idea.  I look forward to checking out more of your site! My granddaughter loves books and having them read to her (she’s 5). She is now starting to have word recognition and has some of her favorite stories nearly memorized, like “Run Home Little Mouse.” I can just picture the things I will put in the story basket for this one!

    How long do you continue to use a story basket? How many items would you typically put into a basket?

    Thank you and I look forward to your reply!

    1. Hello Karin, thanks for stopping g by. Lovely to hear how you spend time reading g with your granddaughter You can put as many items as you like in your baskets and refresh them as the child feels the need and you can use them for as long g as they continue to enjoy them. Hope you have loads of fun with yours and please feel free to drop by and check out my other posts. Cheers Cass

  13. Hi friend,

    I was enjoying every single bit of your Story Basket. I’m someone who also loved stories very much. I remember when I was young, I will sit in front of my father together with my siblings listening to stories from him. It was a very pleasant moment.

    And children as our memory is so sharp and focused when it comes to stories, sometimes I could feel like the characters of the story being told are so real. There are times when I even got involved in the story so much as though some of the characters were my real friends.

    I came to love reading so much to the point that when reading an interesting story that keeps me in suspense, I will keep reading a story until I finish the entire book. Especially when I anticipate that there is something so exciting going to happen. Indeed, good authors can really transport you into a story making it look so real.

    I admire how far you were able to go with your passion  even to the point of benefiting young children. And you’re still sharing with us here. Thanks a lot.

    I’m going to Bookmark your website for revisit, I know you have so many good things to share with all of us.


    1. Stephen, thank you you so much for your kind words and for sharing your wonderful  childhood memories of your father and your love of reading. These re the reasons I share my passion with others. THANKYOU AND PLEASE VISIT AGAIN. Cheers Cass

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