spelling

Come tell me a story…

Fun with the Storybox

Storytelling is big in our house.  From tales of the little people who live behind the skirting boards, to the owl family up our chimney; from the lego men who come to life after bedtime and party hard in the playroom all night, to Mummy’s magic shoes which dance when anyone steps in them; we weave stories into the fabric of our days almost without thinking, and Harry loves it.  Experts may say that we are storing up untold problems and creating a fantasist; I like to think that we’re just unleashing Harry’s imagination throughout the wonder years before the real world starts to hem it in.

And indeed, Harry  loves telling stories too.  ’My turn, my turn!’ He’ll exclaim as we sit around the table, or bundle into bed together.  And Harry’s stories are a delight, though they tend towards repetition and rely heavily on goodies and baddies, robbers and jail, and cars.  Oh, and usually someone falls into a giant vat of mud at the end.

This week we introduced The StoryBox, and it’s transformed our tales.  Filled with random but enticing words – like custard, mud, helicopter, sword and pirate – each person has to pick out a word and use it to begin their story.  Whenever you run out of narrative steam, you choose another word and have to incorporate it.  At three-and-a-half, Harry grasped the idea immediately and loves the unpredictability of what might come next.  It gives him triggers to keep his own story going, and it also allows him to direct – or perhaps sabotage? – our stories too, by pulling out words and insisting that we now need to add in a huge pile of elephant poo – or grandma on a motorbike, or a slimy monster, or whatever is written on the card.

The StoryBox Game

To make this I used a sturdy giftbox and filled it with chips of foamboard to which I glued interesting words.  I chose the names of family members, comic concepts and ideas involving mud, poo, custard and slime, and current obsessions like Lego men, the emergency services and all forms of transport.  And I added in a few completely new words, so that we could explain them and continue to expand his world.  It’s helping with Harry’s word recognition too (though you have to shut your eyes when actually choosing, to add to the drama and unpredictability…).

make your own storybox game

Some very cool stories have emerged.  Like the one where Granny had to rescue Daddy who slipped on a banana whilst escaping from the naughty pirates, who she then chased  on her scooter before making them jump into a big bowl of custard that they had to eat all up before going to jail.

Making stories

You can make this at home in just a few minutes, and it can be as simple or as finessed as you have the energy for.  For the five-minute version, scribble a host of words onto scraps of paper and place them in a hat, shoebox or bowl for family members to pull out.  For the lux version, you can print them out and glue to something more substantial as I did, and decorate a special box to keep them in.

If you want to use my graphic (below) for the cover of your box, you can find a printable version to download at the bottom, albeit one without Harry casually strolling through the pages..

StoryBox

I will keep adding words to our game as Harry’s vocabulary expands and his interests change, to keep it fresh and ensure that the StoryBox retains a firm place in family life. And now I must go; apparently there’s a cross-eyed camel running loose in the garden, and we need to find a saucepan full of sausages to tempt it over with.  No rest for the wicked…

Storybox Main Graphic

How do you spell….

One rainy day in early Summer, I spent an evening decorating plain wooden clothes pegs, intending to use them for a multitude of crafts, and wrote about it here.  With a box of brightly coloured, perky pegs leftover, I was looking for ideas for how to use them and stumbled across this brilliant idea for creating a spelling game.  As Harry is starting to recognise numbers, letters and enticing words (usually those relating to food or toys…), it seemed the perfect time to make him his own set of letters and words ready to practice his budding skills.

I decorated wooden pegs with scraps of gift wrap and washi tape, using double-sided tape to secure the gift wrap in place.  I had a box of these wooden letters tucked away in my craft cupboard, but you could write the letters directly onto the pegs, or use rub on transfers instead.  All you need to end up with is a set of pegs with different letters on.  You can make an alphabet, but I found it was easier to start with the words themselves and work back to see what letters I’d need and how many of them – ‘m’s and ‘d’s come up a lot, whereas some other letters are hardly used at all.

I designed and printed out a couple of sheets with words I knew would be instantly recognisable to Harry and fun to spell.  Because my wooden letters are all in capitals and I want Harry to recognise lower case too, I wrote the words out underneath so he can see how letters change in different settings.

I cut these up and laminated them by slipping several in a laminating sheet with space around them to cut between the words

Put them together with the pegs and hey-presto, you have a spelling game!  I found a storage box to keep these in, and my intention is to keep adding longer and more interesting words as Harry’s skills improve.  This is a great game to make because it can be as simple as using a pen to write letters on pegs, through to this more elaborate and decorative set – a lovely thing to make for a grandchild, perhaps, or for an older sibling to help you make for a younger one – not least because everyone can use a spelling refresher once in a while!