What is a story sack?
A story sack is a bag containing a collection of items that can be used whilst telling a story. The items inside the bag or container can help engage children and extend the story or theme of the story.
Story sacks are ideal for keeping young children interested and excited about a story. They can also be beneficial for older children, especially those who learn better through touch. They can be used with fiction or non-fiction books (see our example below).
How to use a story sack
Here are a few ways you can use your story sack.
- As your telling the story reveal a relevant item from the sack, like a magician bringing the story to life.
- Before you tell the story hand out an item to each child. When you get to the part of the story where their item appears get them to shout or raise the item in the air. This participation will keep kids listening and engaged, waiting for their item to be in the spotlight.
- Pass the items around as the story is being told, so that the children can explore them.
- After telling the story use the items as prompts for asking questions about the story. For example, hold a wand up and ask ‘Who found the witch’s wand?’.
- Another idea for after the story is to place the items randomly on the floor and get your child to think about the order the items appeared. This works well if you’ve picked key items from the tale.
Create a story sack
- Select a story or small collection of stories you’d like to create a sack for.
- Pick out the main characters, objects or the theme of the story.
- Find small objects, toys and other child-safe items that best represent or help tell the story.
- Pop your items into a sack*.
Explore some of our toys that are ideal for your story sacks.
*Story sacks don’t necessarily have to be actual bags, you could use a tub or a basket to store your storytelling props.
You can make temporary sacks too, containing things like vegetables or fresh items or things you need to use regularly.
Story sack examples
Who’s Afraid of the Dark? Story Sack
Being scared of the dark/unknown
Fox, Badger, Bat, Owl, Hedgehog, Fish, Dog and Cat
Any of the animals mentioned above
Torch – great for creating shadows
Moon toy – this could be a small wooden disc to represent the moon
Twigs – perfect for snapping
Dried leaves – pop these in an envelop, reusable sandwich bag or similar so that you can pass them around to crunch.
Great Women who changed the World Story Sack
Standing up for your beliefs
Following your dreams
Characters/People featured: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawea, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, Anne Frank
Jane Austen – a novel by the lady herself, a feather to act as a quill
Gertrude Ederle – swimming goggles, swimming hat
Coco Chanel – Child-safe scissors, swatches of fabric
Frida Kahlo – Paints, a small mirror to use for painting self portraits
Marie Curie – Pretend x-rays
Mary Anning – Fossils, dinosaur toys
Mary Seacole – Tin of soup
Amelia Earhart – Toy plane, old map
Agent Fifi – Notebook and pen
Sacagawea – Map of the Rocky Mountains (or a piece of paper for drawing your own), a feather for wearing in your hair
Emmeline Pankhurst – A sash (ideally purple, white or green), ‘Deeds not Words!’ poster, pretend ballot slip
Rosa Parks – Toy bus, bus ticket
Anne Frank – A diary or notebook
Celebrate National Storytelling Week – 30th January to 6th February 2023 by creating your own story sack!