Introducing story sacks to your school or setting is an excellent way in which to stimulate children and bring stories to life. You can use a ready made story sack featuring a book with soft toys of the main characters and other related materials to include the CD and prompt cards suggesting ways of developing listening, reading and writing skills, or you can create your own story sack.
A story sack encourages playing and exploring, active learning and opportunities to create and think critically. This can dramatically improve the outcomes of your intervention. You can provide an area of interest for a child where they can focus on the task in hand, connect with you without being distracted and engage in high level interaction.
Below are some tried and tested examples of how you may want to use your story sacks throughout the year within different contexts.
Change your environment
Elizabeth Jarman is a renound Early Years trainer and promotes the idea that “the environment can affect behaviour, communication, emotional well-being and general engagement. Getting the environment right for children contributes to their overall achievement”. You may feel you want to read to children in a quiet area due to frequent background noise or lots of visual clutter.
So bearing this in mind, why not take your story sack outside? Create a comfortable area with soft furnishings, or natural resources to take them away from eye catching play for a moment. Allow them to focus on the moment and channel their thoughts into what you are setting out to achieve.
Building relationships with families
Engaging families in supporting children’s speaking and listening is essential. Within the EYFS there is an emphasis on two-way sharing of information with families to better understand and support the child. There is also a focus on the importance of the home environment. Why not lend the bags out to your families to support children’s learning at home? Story sacks offer a fabulous way to engage families and open up effective dialogue between the home and setting/school.
Going on a day out?
We often plan trips out, a walk in the woods or a trip to the local park. To avoid the initial excitement mayhem upon arrival, take a story sack with you so that one of the practitioners can settle the children while others can prepare the resources you need to carry on with your planned activities. We recently took a class out to some woods. We had planned a treasure hunt which meant we had to place the clues around the area. The story sack gave us some precious time to allow for this before we could let loose!
Struggling to engage a child to carry out a task?
Why not use the main character puppet? Model appropriate behaviour using a puppet which they enjoy. You may find they respond to the puppet as they listen attentively and read the expression of the puppet. Why not give the child control and offer them the puppet? Give them responsibility to take the lead. Reward, praise and build self-esteem. This in turn may change or distract from a behaviour.
Language development- incorporate a listening area
Struggling to use technology within the EYFS? Set up a listening corner where children have personal autonomy of listening to the different CDs within each story sac. Let them use the soft toys independently enabling them to imagine and create their own journey within the story. They can select toys as the story unfolds. Watch them as they begin to select toys through listening and observe their facial expression as the story unfolds.
You may also want to use the puppet to recap at the end of the story to check learning. Ask them to point to the key words such as parts of the anatomy; eyes, teeth, claws snake and mouse for the Gruffalo story sack.
This post was written by Fozia Benchiba
Fozia has a wide range of experience in childcare and delivering the EYFS. She is also a lecturer at Wiltshire College teaching and certifying childminders including early years outcomes, the characteristics of effective learning and the statutory framework. She has extensive experience in managing and working with students with profound learning difficulties and challenging/behavioural issues. She is currently studying at Yeovil University as SEN specialist teacher at degree level.
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