Story Telling Activities Using Julia Donaldson Stories

As stated in a previous post, I am a strong believer that the activities in the Activity Books you can buy are quite, well…. boring to be honest.  So I’m determined to make the purchase worthwhile with some really good activities.  I’ve already used them for outdoor games; Super Worm Olympics and Gruffalo Games and over the past couple of weeks we’ve used them for indoor story telling.  We used Julia Donaldson stories but these activities could be used for ANY story at all!

Activity 1: Story Telling Shadow Puppets

For this activity, you will need:

  • Activity Books and colouring pages
  • Cotton Buds
  • Torch and cardboard box

To make the props for this activity, I chose three of J’s favourite stories (well they’re all favourites to be honest) and looked through them for images central to the story. The Gruffalo had a mask which was perfect.  I cut it out along with a few extra bits (the teeth , tongue and nose) for more of an effect.  I found the dragon and witch on the broom for Room on a Broom and cut these out! These ones were a lot more intricate but worth it! Finally I cut out the whale and the whale’s tail for The Snail and the Whale.

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For the projector, I used a torch of J’s and cut a hole in the side of a piece of cardboard.  I simply wedged the torch in the hole so that we didn’t need to hold the torch and our hands were free for the shadow puppets.

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We shut the blinds, closed the curtains and settled down for a story and play with the shadow puppets and copies of the books.  On this rainy Friday, it has been a lovely activity to do.

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For characters we didn’t have, J used his fingers or hands and sometimes his whole body.

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I read the story and J manipulated the shadow puppets…

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J loved exploring the shadows, particularly moving them forwards and backwards making them bigger and smaller! Obviously, he wanted the Gruffalo and Dragon to be as big as he could make them!  This was great for exploring and discovering shadow, light and dark.

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J also used the mask to hide behind and put on his scariest voice for the Gruffalo!

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For the Room on a Broom story, J insisted we dash about so that the dragon was chasing the witch.

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I think you’ll agree the intricate cutting of the witch on the broom was worth it! The shadow look amazing!

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J enjoyed switching the torch on and off so that the shadows would disappear and reappear! He did this SEVERAL times!

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We had lots of fun with this activity and the whale just loved diving and swimming across the wall… I mean sea!

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Activity 2: Superworm Theatre

For this activity, you will need:

  • The sleeve that comes with a hardback book
  • Cotton Buds
  • Empty Box with window cut out
  • Sticky tape
  • Glue

Superworm Theatre

I always find that the sleeve for protecting the hardback books, always rips and ends up in the bin. So, whenever I buy one, I take the sleeve off to use it for something! This time they would form the scenery and characters for our small world theatre!  I cut the characters out and attached a cotton bud to them to hold when manipulating the puppets.  I then covered the box in white self-adhesive address labels and used the remainder of the sleeve to create a backdrop for the theatre box.

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As I read the story, J ‘acted’ it out with the puppets in the theatre. J knows this story well so was pretty able to keep up with me reading it.  I would occasionally stop so that J could say words to the story.

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J loved the fact that it had almost a TV screen to this box and kept saying, ‘Are you enjoying the show Mummy?’

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The thing that made me giggle was when the characters left the stage, they would move according to how that creature moves.  You can see in the photo below the snail, sliding off stage! He is a funny boy!

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What did J learn?

  • Story telling language and vocab
  • Retelling and roleplaying a story in the correct sequence
  • Taking on roles and adapting his voice
  • Discovering and exploring shadows, light and dark
  • Creativity and imaginative development


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