Children can find it very difficult to re-tell stories and even harder to make them up. This is particularly so if they have not had much experience with stories and story telling in the preschool setting.
There are a variety of ways to involve children with texts, and the use of ‘story trays’ is one that does not only spark an interest in reading but also involves much talk and discussion, which is why we include them in our curriculum!
A story tray is a tray containing a book, plus items associated with the story, which might include characters in the form of soft toys or puppets. There might also be a non-fiction book on a similar theme, which allows children to experience different types of text.
These items are used to help bring the story to life. They provide a visual and tactile stimulus that the children can use to take part in the telling or re-telling of the story. Children of all abilities enjoy using them but they can be particularly useful in helping children who are not interested in reading, for whatever reasons, to enjoy books. For this activity, we used a variety of items to re-tell the story of a book called Vegetable Soup. Each child was given one of the items in the story, and as the story was read, they would add their item to the tray. Some of these items included toy vegetables, a water can, soil, toy shovels, and seeds!