Age Range: 3+
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s open Story Box and tell you a story;
‘Once upon a time there was a family where Peter lived and Peter was very lonely at the moment. There was also a princess that was lonely at the moment. The princess went through the woods to the little witch’s house. Peter went through the woods to the little witch’s house. Peter and the princess met each other at the witch’s house. They helped the witch pick some apples. The princess stayed with the witch. Peter wanted more jobs so he went on his horse to the dwarves.’
This is the beginning of a story that my seven year old created using Story Box which is a fantastic resource to help children (and adults!) create and tell stories using different fairytale characters (the rest of the story is at the end of this blog post).
Story Box is a sturdy, colourful box which contains 20 double sided, interchangeable puzzle pieces. An initial piece shows a man, a woman holding a hen and a young boy which already conjures up a multitude of scenarios – Is this a family? Is this Jack and his mother from Jack and the Beanstalk? Are the characters related at all? Or you can turn the piece over and start with a king and a princess standing on the turret of their castle – Who is the king waving to? How do you think the princess is feeling?
The consecutive pieces show a range of fairytale characters engaged in a variety of activities – there’s a wolf, a witch, dwarves, a pink rabbit, a snake and a king as well as the young boy and the princess. The castle, the witch’s house, the woods and even an ice-cream van provide backdrops for the stories which include references to well known fairytales e.g. a beanstalk, dwarves, apples but they are also ambiguous enough for you to get wildly creative. With 20 pieces you can create a fun, action packed story and there are six different endings to choose from.
We love the way that the large jigsaw pieces can be arranged and rearranged to tell a multitude of stories. Anne Laval’s illustrations are beautiful and full of details that can interlink not just one but several pieces together. Just turning the puzzle piece over can take your story into a completely new direction, it took my daughter a long time to arrange the pieces for the story that she wanted and there were a lot of ‘what ifs’? and discussions throughout the process.
The Story Box is a fantastic classroom resource for all ages and there are so many ways that it could be used. Not only does it encourage children to use their imaginations and think creatively but it can also be used to develop speaking and writing skills. Ideas that I came up with for using Story Box include;
- Children play with the pieces and create their own stories and scenarios
- The child creates a story and the parent / teacher writes it out. Having somebody else to write the story gives the child the opportunity to use their imagination without being distracted by the mechanics of writing. The story can be used later for reading practice.
- Each player in a small group is given several puzzle pieces. When it is the player’s turn they can choose a relevant piece and tell their part of the story. This would be a fun activity to develop storytelling / speaking skills.
- A teacher, adult or another child writes a story using the puzzle pieces. Children are encouraged to find the corresponding puzzle piece and put the story together as the story is read aloud.
- Children can write out and illustrate the stories that they have created for a class book or a classroom wall display.
I first became aware of Story Box after reading Picture Books Blogger’s Story Box blog post – thank you to publisher Laurence King for sending us a review copy. I’m very impressed with this beautifully illustrated resource which has given us a lot of fun. It’s also a great resource to use in any language as you provide all the words!
Illustrator: Anne Laval
And just in case you want to hear how our story ends!
‘The dwarves wanted their picture taken so Peter took a picture of them. Then he went home to his father and he hugged him. He forgot that he had left the princess alone but the princess had fainted in the woods because she had measles. The witch brought the princess into her bed. When the princess woke up she found that the bed had measles and not her. The witch gave her a cup of tea then the princess and the witch went outside to pick flowers. Then it started to get hotter and hotter so the princess and the witch made ice cream. Then they ate the ice cream and talked together happily. Then they made a cup of tea for themselves and at that moment Peter came running back. He was out of breath. The witch asked if he wanted a cup of tea but Peter said “No, No!”. The princess asked him, “Why are you in such a rush Peter?”. Peter told them that a huge rabbit had eaten half a turret of the princess’ castle so Peter and the princess and the witch went on the witch’s broomstick and they also took a magic carrot with them. They flew over the tops of the turrets of the princess’ castle and they saw the huge pink rabbit. Just at the moment they flew over the rabbit’s mouth the princess threw the magic carrot into the rabbit’s mouth. The rabbit shrunk to his normal size and they picked up the rabbit and they flew back to the witch’s house and they picked up the moped and Peter and the princess rode back to the castle and the princess and Peter kept the rabbit as their pet. Peter and the princess lived happily ever after.’