Updated: Feb 22
I hope you and your little ones are all doing ok in lockdown. I am sure you all have a few storybooks at home, so the content of this next blog could provide you with another activity to do together as part of your home learning, involving your child’s favourite story with follow on activities connected to this.
As a children's photographer I am always coming up with different ways to help child feel relaxed and at ease when they come for a photoshoot at my Norfolk photography studio. One thing I do is share a Story Sacks as an icebreaker to help them feel settled and get them comfortable being around me before starting to take any photographs. Making a Story Sack is a perfect activity to do as you stay home with your children during the current lockdown.
What is a Storysack? It consists of a material bag containing one of your child’s favourite storybooks, along with a range of other supporting materials to stimulate engagement with reading and bring the story to life. Neil Griffiths devised the Story Sack idea in the 1990s.
When I worked in the childcare sector I made a variety of Story Sacks to use when I led Song and Story Time sessions. The Story Sacks were a great way to get the children engaged during the story as well as let them engage in turn taking and sharing. I also taught my childcare students how to make their own to use within their work placement observations.
My love of children’s stories and props provided me with the inspiration for some of the Cake Smash Themes Photoshoots I offer in my Norfolk Photography Studio. I currently offer the following story book based Cake Smash Photography themes The Hungry Caterpillar, The Gruffalo and Peter Rabbit.
What is the purpose of a Story Sack? It is all about encouraging you as parents to join in with this home learning experience with your child. The inclusion of props and supporting materials helps you to make the activity last longer and gives you lots of ways to extend your child’s thinking and learning. Also if you find it difficult to read stories, the props will help you to share the story in a way, which you feel comfortable with.
What is in a Story Sack?
· A material sack to store it in (if you don’t have one you could make a story box or basket instead)
· A Fiction Picture Book e.g. The Gruffalo
· Soft toy main character and props e.g. Gruffalo, Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake
· A non fiction book connected to the theme of the fiction story e.g. a book around woodland animals or a book about a specific animal from the story e.g. a book about foxes
· A game or a puzzle e.g. Gruffalo lotto or floor puzzle, if you do not have one you could make one, there are lots of websites where you can download free pintables if you do not have anything-
· An audio recording of the story
This could be in different formats, you could download one to play to your child, or you could record yourself or a family member reading out the story
How to extend your child’s learning with the storybook?
-Start off with talking about the book’s cover and ask your child what they think the story is about
-If you have read it before, ask you child if they can remember the story
-Talk to your child about the pictures in the story
-Stop at certain times and ask your child what they think will happen next
-Stop and explain what any uncommon words mean
-Look at the letters and ask you child if they can identity any of the letters at the start of words
-Have a conversation about the characters e.g. who, what, where, why questions
-Ask you child to recap what has happened in the story so far
-Once the story is finished, ask questions what was your favourite part, what did you like and why
How to extend your child’s learning with soft toys and props?
-Act out the story using the props/characters
-Pretend to be one of the characters and get your child to do the same
-When you read the book ask your child to find the prop/character
-Create a home/habitat for the characters using household items
-Make up different stories using the characters
-Ask your child to put the characters/props in the order they appear in the book
How to extend your child’s learning with the non-fiction book?
-Get your child to talk about the photographs in the book and ask them questions
-Find out what your child already knows about the book contents and base questions off that
-Talk about the book contents and go to the sections, which are of most interest to your child
-Pick out complex words and discuss what they mean with your child in a way they will understand
-Read part of the book and then ask your chid questions to see what they can remember
How to extend your child’s learning with the audio recording of the story?
-Stop the recording and ask your child if they can remember what happens next
-When listening to the story see if your child can follow it along in the book with their finger
-Get your child to do their own reading of the story and record it
How to extend your child’s learning with the game?
-Make sure you connect the game to the story, by asking your child questions such as who is this? What did they do in the story?
-Play the game more than once to reinforce learning
-Engage your child in turn taking during the game and provide praise when they follow the rules and shares
-Talk to your chid throughout the game and comment on what they are doing
How does a Story Sack support my child’s learning and development?
Using a Story Sack with your child provides a rich learning experience in a number of ways. It helps to improve your child’s listening and concertation skills. Along with promoting communication, extending their vocabulary and understanding. It also promotes their social interaction skills as they will be doing all the activities with you and possible siblings.
What’s the parent’s role in the Story Sack?
Your role is to take the lead in the Story Sack activity, by sharing the story with your child. Reading the story itself, will help you to develop your child’s talking, listening and communication skills, along with promoting early reading skills and imagination. You will be role modelling language to your child, by them hearing the words and by talking to them about what is happening. Giving your child lots of praise and encouragement during the activity, will make them want to engage with it for longer and take part in all the different elements of the Story Sack.
Now its your turn to get creative and make your own Story Sack. If you already have a Story Sack or decide to make your own I would love to see your photos.
I have a selection of #Storytelling video sessions featuring me telling my favourite stories, which would be perfect to entertain your little ones-you can view them on:
Further sources of information on Story Sacks
Story Sack Ideas
Corner to Learn by Neil Griffiths
The National Literacy Trust
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Written by G.Hampton 27.04.20
Copyright © 2020 by Gemerations Photography