How to create the ultimate story sack
Have you heard of story sacks? I hadn't until recently, but this concept is right up my alley.
So in short, it’s a large-ish cloth bag filled with a children’s story book and a variety of supporting materials (think figurines or characters from the story, playdough, arts and crafts supplies, a related non-fiction book, an activity card, or whatever else grabs your fancy that may be related to the story).
All my favourite things in one bag?! Take all my money! But wait, there’s more. There is actually a point to lumping all these fabulous goodies together. The idea is not only to foster a love of reading and facilitate the development of language skills, but also to promote empathy, nurture creativity and encourage the acquisition of other STEM skills, depending on what activities you include.
Ok, so how do we pull this feat of awesomeness off? Well I’ve put together a little guide for you, right here, using the classic Julia Donaldson book The Gruffalo -complete with an awesome printable! You can use this guide as inspiration, or a general framework, for creating your own story sack using your little one’s favourite books.
- a large-ish cloth sack
- a copy of The Gruffalo
- a natural sciences book featuring some or all of the animals in The Gruffalo (I used Through the Animal Kingdom)
- a Gruffalo figurine
- other animal figurines
- play dough
- pinecones, bark/cinnamon sticks, twigs of rosemary, lavender or other scented plants, pebbles, etc.
- art supplies
- an activity card (yep, I’ve included one below)
- Gruffalo Crumble Recipe printable shown below (click the link to be taken to a printable version)
- measuring cups, scale and other relevant baking equipment
Use the activity card as a prompt or guide for what to include in future story sacks, but also feel free to trim it down or expand upon the suggestions. You also need not work through the whole story sack in one sitting. Move on to the next activity or hit pause if you notice your child’s attention wandering. This is not supposed to be an arduous educational exercise, the idea is to participate in a mutually engaging and fun activity together. And to eat crumble.
I spent some time with my 3 and a half year old son doing the activities. He was really engaged with it all, and it kept him occupied for nearly 2 hours - both with me, and alone. We really enjoyed making the Gruffalo Crumble together (fyi: we used blueberries instead of blackberries) . He stood in his learning tower helping me measure and mix. It was not only a great opportunity for him to start learning about concepts such as weight and volume, and work on his motor skills and impulse control, but we also had a great time connecting in the process.
I am really glad that I spent some time selecting quality products for the story sack. It’s meant that the Woozle has had hours of extra play (and will continue to) from the story sack activities long after we had finished exploring it together, and that he stays safe whilst doing so.
Isn’t this wooden Gruffalo utterly adorable? It’s made in Europe from sustainably sourced wood and eco-friendly, child safe paints. The little forest creatures have also been made in an environment and child safe manner. The luscious playdough is from Hello Dough (@hellodoughsa on Instagram) and is just a dream to work with. And the learning tower is a hands down winner for all kitchen activities that involve young children. It is locally designed and made from sustainably sourced birch-ply and sealed with a child-safe water based sealant.
Which books would you use for making a story sack? Let me know if you try this and how it turns out. Did you do anything different to what I suggested here? Shall I post another one? I have some nifty ideas for The Gruffalo’s Child.