Open the sack ... and the magic happens ...
What is a storysack?
A storysack is a large cloth bag containing a popular children’s picture book, together with games, activities and props designed to bring the book to life. Soft toys or finger puppets of the main and supporting characters are included, together with ‘scenery’ to be able to re-enact the story. An audio version of the book (CD), a non-fiction book on a related topic, a prompt card of ideas for further discussion/learning, and a language-based or mathematical game are amongst other items which may be included.
Where did the idea come from?
Storysacks were the creation of Neil Griffiths, a former primary school headteacher, who took on the role of director of a National Literacy Support Project for the Basic Skills Agency. Neil’s idea was conceived through ‘wanting a surprise to burst out of the sack’ and he now spends time promoting them to school and communities throughout the UK and abroad.
Why have they become such a powerful literary resource?
- Storysacks accelerate learning by bringing stories to life.
Props, masks, puppets and scenery are included to enable role play, helping to make characters and events more memorable. Each sack also contains a prompt card, with suggestions and ideas for related songs, rhymes and further discussion/learning on related topics or themes.
- An inclusive teaching resource.
Storysacks are designed to support a written text, which may be challenging to some children. Their props and other visual elements enable children of all abilities to join in sharing stories, regardless of their language and literacy skills. For this reason they have also become a valuable resource in the teaching of children for whom English is an additional language (EAL).
- Cross curricular.
The texts chosen provide a springboard to stimulate further language activities and learning across the EYFS curriculum.
For example, the ‘Life Cycle of a Caterpillar’ storysack (based on Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ not only explores the life stages of a butterfly, but it also contains soft toy prompts to introduce numeracy and discussions on healthy eating and human life cycles.
‘Fatou, Fetch the Water’, a story about a forgetful young African girl who fetches a fresh supply of water for a family feast, inspires learning about the culture and traditions of The Gambia, where the story is set. ‘Handa’s Surprise’ even contains the traditional African game of Mancala. ‘We’re Sailing Down the Nile’ provides a gentle introduction to the ancient and modern mysteries of Egypt and even includes a map.
‘Little Red Hen’ contains a game of farm dominoes to introduce counting, as well as a non-fiction book about food from farms. ‘The Gruffalo’ contains a set of 5 character finger puppets to be able to explore the characteristics and habitats of the Fox, Owl, Snake, Mouse and Squirrel. It also contains a jigsaw and the non-fiction text: ‘What is a Forest?’. Meanwhile ‘Peace at Last’ provides a fantastic starting point for exploring the sounds around us during our daily lives.
Exploring Storysacks at Home
Did you know that storysacks are available for our nursery families to borrow to take home?
If you would like to find out more just speak to one of our Nursery Managers:
- Seagulls Day Nursery – Teresa Gates – 01493 660099
- Priory Day Nursery – Zoey Coleman – 01493 842424
- Calthorpe Nursery – Nicola Brind – 01493 800034
- Peggotty Nursery – Danielle Coulam – 01493
- Little Blossoms – Filby Nursery – Liz Enfield – 01493 743024.
Read other articles in our 'Embedding Literacy in Daily Practice' series ...
[Accessed 9 April 2017]
National Literacy Trust
[Accessed 11 April 2017]
Green R, Strong J. National Literacy Trust. Early Reading Connects Family Involvement Toolkit.
Funded by: Department for Children, Schools and Families
[Accessed 11 April 2017]