How to use story sacks for reading fun with toddlers and preschoolers

Jan 28, 2016

Sharing storybooks with our children can spark a life-long love of reading, and is one of the best ways to boost language skills. Books encourage a rich vocabulary, and a strong grasp of how words work. In this post I want to talk about how making your own simple story sacks can make time spent reading with your child an extra-special event, supporting learning and the warm, loving experience of sharing a story.


A story sack is a bag or basket containing a book and some related activities to stimulate language learning and make reading more appealing. All you need to do is choose a story and put it in a container along with a few well-chosen toys, for example:

  • Soft toys or figures for acting out the story
  • Materials for an art project related to the story
  • A puzzle or game related to a theme from the story
  • Another book on a similar subject

Here’s an example of a story sack for Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

  • Storybook
  • Toys or figures to represent Goldilocks and the three bears, for acting out the story together and for free play afterwards
  • Bowls and spoons for the bear family breakfast
  • A bear puzzle (e.g. the Melissa and Doug wooden bear family puzzle)
  • An art activity, e.g. a bear-themed coloring page
  • Another book about bears (e.g. Good Job, Little Bear, by Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth)

Story sacks make a special event of reading. Bring one out when you can sit quietly with your child to read, talk about the story, and play with the activities. When you show your child the bag, act excited about what you will find inside. I like to start by reading the story. Next I act it out with the figures, and talk about the story with my children. After this we might do the art activity, or I give them they toys to use in their own imaginative games. Later we open up the story sack again for another of the activities. Because they are so young, we don’t do everything all at once, but space out our play through an afternoon, or even over a couple of days.

Story sacks are a fun way to introduce a new book, but they don’t have to contain new materials. I often use a favorite story and familiar toys. Sharing these things in a story sack makes them novel and interesting once more.

Acting out the story and doing related activities is a great way to reinforce any words and ideas in the book. For example, the Goldilocks story play could encourage your child to talk about size (using small, medium and large bears and bowls), numbers (counting to three), or feelings (e.g. sad, shocked and angry). Adapt your story sacks according to your child’s age and interests, and have fun!


If you liked this, there are many more ideas for making reading fun and book-themed activities in my book: Word Boosting: A practical guide to encouraging your toddler’s language skills, with 365+ easy playtime activities.

This post is shared at Practical Mondays.


1 Comment

  1. Kathleen
    February 24, 2016

    This link is shared at:


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