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One full week of the “12 Days of Book Giving” in the books! Drum roll and fanfare for day 8…
Book Giving Idea #8
Today’s book giving idea is a storytelling basket. This is a kit that includes a book and puppets, small toys, or other props that would help your child retell the story. Props can be purchased or made. Gathering them is half the fun of putting this gift together. This could finally be a reason to use some of the random crap—I mean, toys—that you’ve collected from garage sales, thrift stores, birthday party favors, dentist office prize machines, or happy meals. I’ve also seen storytelling baskets containing wooden spoon puppets painted to resemble the characters in a book. If you possess this talent that would put my storytelling basket examples to shame, by all means…
Why a Storytelling Basket?
A dramatic retelling of a story is a fantastic way to extend the benefits of a book. Acting it out deepens your child’s understanding of the story, develops his/her verbal skills, and connects reading to physical and social play. I would recommend this type of gift for readers ages 3-8. Reciting a story from memory or from looking at the pictures is an important step in early literacy. Even if your child can’t read words on a page, this activity helps develop his identity as a reader. Folktales or other stories that have cumulative or repetitive plots make the best storytelling baskets. Below is a list of titles to help you get started making your own.
Seasonal Folktales for Storytelling Baskets
The Gingerbread Man
So many versions of this tale exist, each with different animal characters that try to eat the gingerbread man. The one constant is the sly fox, so make sure you include him in your basket. Other ingredients seen in the photo are a rolling pin, cookie cutter, pan, and gingerbread man ornament. Ashman and I made the ornament from dough containing mostly cinnamon and glue. He smells wonderful!
There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro and Jared Lee
All the things this woman swallows accumulate in her belly until she hiccups twice and out pops a snowman. Most of my ingredients are made of paper. I know you can do better. Wouldn’t it be fun to include some white play dough for the snow? You can find the old lady template here.
The Mitten by Jan Brett
This Ukranian folktale is another cumulative story. While playing outside in the snow, a boy loses one of the white mittens his grandmother knitted him. Subsequently a mole, rabbit, hedgehog, owl, badger, fox, bear, and mouse all snuggle into the mitten to sleep. When the mouse climbs on bear’s nose, the bear sneezes and they all go flying. The boy is reunited with his mitten when he sees it falling from the sky. This storytelling basket requires a lot of animals and a very large white mitten, but Jan Brett’s glorious illustrations make it SO worth having.
Storytelling Baskets for the Overachiever
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
This basket must contain hats in five different colors: grey, brown, blue, and red, and one checkered. Oh, and you’re going to need some monkeys. I know we have a partial set of the game Barrel of Monkeys around here somewhere, how about you? Your kid will love walking around balancing a tower of hats on his head and shouting, “Caps for sale, caps for sale. Fifty cents a cap!”
20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee and Kurt Cyrus
Ashman loves to act out this book and he would LOVE to receive a storytelling basket with exact replicas of the trucks in this book. You’ll need an ice cream truck, mail truck, hay truck, pickup truck, crane truck, two moving vans, 4 delivery trucks, farm truck carrying pigs, cement mixer, tanker truck, tow truck, truck towing a tar kettle (what?!), bread truck, meat truck, and a garbage truck. Totally doable, right? If not, make sure you have the crane truck (the solution to the traffic jam) and 19 other trucks of any kind will do.
The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by John Scieszka and Lane Smith, and The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat
Extend the use of your storytelling basket by including three versions of this traditional tale (a.k.a. “fractured fairytales”). The characters and building materials (straw, sticks, bricks) remain the same, but the plots, points of view, and settings change slightly.
That’s all for today. See you tomorrow for Day 9!
Featured image based on "Presents" by Andrew Butitta, CC-BY-SA-2.0