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Storytelling with preschoolers

Storytelling is fantastic time for children to learn new sounds, words and language, to learn about the world and develop social skills, but more than this it can be a time that allows both grown ups and little ones to really connect and collaborate to make a story come to life.

Let me start by confessing that I am terrible at remember stories, however many times I’ve heard them, so I always keep the book close by, even for stories like The Three Little Pigs 😂

Get comfy

My eldest loves making a quick den or special cosy area where we can sit and read but it’s rarely anything fancy and usually just consists of some cushions on the floor or a blanket pegged to some chairs. Sometimes she tells me that it’s a rocket or that we’re having a picnic in the woods, if this happens I usually take the hint and grab a related book and go with it. It’s amazing how their imaginations are just constantly alive with ideas and great to be guided by their interest

The power of props

Once the story has been decided we quickly gather some items that might help us bring the tale to life. This varies even for the same story, so sometimes for a story like The Gruffalo we use our pop-out play set where we can actually hold each character and act things out, but other times I might grab some sticks, leaves, acorns and other items we’ve foraged from a walk in the woods so that we talk more about the setting of the story.

Gruffalo Play Set

Share the story

Giving everyone something to do or a character to play can really take things in a different direction, but what a great chance for your little one to create their own unique stories. This can work a lot better with older children, but even younger ones can have a part to play, we sometimes give our 9 month old an instrument to bash at a certain point in the story, just be sure not to hand it out too soon.

Simple prep

I’m sure very few of us have the time or enthusiasm to be setting up elaborate scenes, but there are lots of really quick and simple things you can put together beforehand that might bring more excitement to the story. One that went down a treat recently was when I put some cocoa powder and water in a ziplock bag, both the girls had fun squishy and squelching the ‘mud’ in the bag.

Sometimes I’ve also got our eldest involved by making characters from a story and attaching them to pegs or drawing directly onto wooden spoons. This worked so well for Room on the Broom, as each new character we encountered was pegged onto the cardboard broom.

Stories and prop ideas

Here are a list of some of our favourite stories and the bits and pieces we often put with them below.

Three Little Pigs

  • 3 x Pigs
  • Wood wool packaging
  • Twigs from the garden
  • Lego or other blocks


Gingerbread Man

  • Homemade Ginger Scented Play Dough
  • Gingerbread cutters
  • Other toy or real baking accessories – to pretend that we’re creating our own cheeky gingerbread men


Goldilocks and the Three Bears

  • Bowl and spoon – to pretend scooping up the porridge
  • Cushions – to act as chairs that we test out
  • Blanket – to pretend we’re tucked up in bed


The Very Hungry Caterpillar

  • Fruit and other snacks – to munch through just like a hungry caterpillar


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

  • Shredded green paper – for the swishy swashy grass
  • A cone of paper – for making a convincing hooo wooo snow storm
  • Cocoa Powder and water in a ziplock bag – mess free squelchy mud
  • Small dish of water – for relatively small splish splashing
  • Nesting Bear – a little abstract but we pretend his body is the cave

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