- Read through the book before you introduce it to the child. Collect real objects to illustrate the story. Whenever possible, be sure that the objects are as close to actual size and function as possible. For example, if it mentions a bowl, get a real bowl, or a real blanket, etc.
- Once you have put together the storybox, you're ready to explore it with the child. Before you start, give a brief introduction and summary about the story that you will be sharing together.
- Explore: If this is the first time that you will be sharing the story together, allow the child to explore the items in the box. Let the child's questions about the objects guide your discussion. Introduce the characters, if applicable.
- Telling the story: Use the objects as you tell the story.
- Story boxes are also a great tool to support children in retelling a story themselves!
In this example, we are reading Clifford's Bedtime by Norman Bridwell. This book lends itself well to being a storybox, as it is the story of a routine that is part of every child's life, with many props that are familiar.
Video Demonstration of Using a Storybox
Mom: Story, what? Mommy Dog and Baby Dog. In here, what? Blanket, right! Soft. What did you find? What’s that?
Mom: Yes, bear. Toy bear. This bear is Baby Dog’s toy. What other things are in there?
Mom: Baby doll. Water bowl is in there.
Liam: Water bowl
Mom: Yes, right. And the book. Can you find the book? You found it, right! Ok, ready to start the story?
Mom: Baby Dog bedtime. The mom helps bring the baby to bed. The Mommy Dog carries the Baby Puppy to bed in her mouth. The bed is right there.
Liam: The bed is here like this.
Mom: The puppy was not tired. He was awake and looking around. He can’t sleep. The puppy needed what? Bear. Mom brought the bear. Put it on the bed. Now the baby puppy needs what? He needs his baby doll. Put it on the bed.
Liam: Put them with the puppy!
Mom: They are with the baby puppy, correct. Now the baby puppy needs what? Mommy dog brings blanket. Yes, nice. Nice Mommy dog, right?
Mom: Now, Baby Puppy needs what? Drink of water. Now, what? Bear drinking too, huh? Funny. Baby puppy not tired. Needs what?
Mom: Water finished. He needs a good night kiss from his mom. Sweet dreams baby puppy! The end. Did you like the story?
Liam: Show Grandma?
Mom: Do you want to tell Grandma the story?
Mom: Ok, I will go get Grandma.
Sharing or Retelling the Story
Having the child retell or share the story is a wonderful way to extend the activity. It gives the child a chance to practice sequencing and expressive language, and is also a good opportunity for the parent or teacher to assess how well the child has understood the story.
In the video below, Liam retells the story to his grandmother using the objects from the story box.