Building a Story or Small World from the Bottom Up.

I first met Susan Munzer when I worked for the Childcare Resource and Referral at Kootenay Kids in Nelson, BC.  She was a very calm, gentle, smart and capable lady.  She is retired now and just before she did, she wrote a book including all of her amazing children's toys and story baskets.  It is called Learn to Play, Play to Learn.  I didn't know about story baskets before I met Susan.  I watched her tell stories using this method, I watched her demonstrate how she created all the pieces by hand and how she used them in different forms for play and for storytelling.  She was so inspirational for me that I have to give her the credit for a lot of what I create and sell in my small business shop.

Susan says in her book, "storytelling is one of the foundations for learning."  She also says that the quality of the story is very important.  I know that she used to write and memorize her stories so that it was presented the same way each time.

I would like to share in this post how I envision a story/small world being built.  With some of my sets, I have an actual story in mind and others I do not.  With some sets, you will need to keep in mind the age of the child and adapt your storytelling to suit their developmental stage.  Keep this in mind if you are going to allow the children to play with the small world story themselves.  It helps to model how they could use it during a gathering or circle time. 

 These sets would lend themselves to a nature table or shelf display as a focal point.  Bringing in other seasonal treasures, books, fabric, and animals help expand the scene.

This is a small wooden pond (ocean) that I made recently.  As you can see I added a scarf (beach?) and a doily (more water?).  I love doilies and I like to give children an assortment of textures and materials to spark their imagination and pique their senses.

Do you have some shells? Driftwood and a frog or two?  Maybe a turtle?

Add in some stones and a flower.  Use what you have in your environment, your home or your childcare center.   You really do not need to go out and spend money.  Well maybe a bit, if you buy a pond from my market table!!  I found these lovely polished stones in a free bin on the roadside.

And maybe a duck would like to come and swim in the pond!  

So, in my opinion, the children would love to help with designing this setup.  Maybe each could add in an element where they want to.  Maybe the story is the setup.....once upon a time there was a beautiful pond...and what happened next?

Some songs you might sing are:
Five little ducks
Five green and speckled frogs
There was a little turtle
The little white duck

The fun thing about this pond I made is that it has a flip side!  A two for one, because that's just so much fun!

A meadow!

Add some Susan Munzer inspired flowers.  Maybe some seasonal flowers that are real or fake ones if that is what you have.  Maybe add a stump or two.

Some stones would be nice and a little frog might like to hop through the flowers.

And how about a wooden house for the little gnome family.  If you do not have gnomes, use what you have.  Other animals, or little people or small stuffies.  

You could make up some adventures for the gnome children like how they met a frog while walking through the meadow and maybe the frog could talk to them.  I wonder what it would say?

I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial and find it helpful in a small way.  

If you are interested in buying a pond/meadow or any accessories email me!  I have things available in the shop.  Postage is usually around $15 Canadian.

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