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I remember teaching a great little girl named Tiffany who was younger than everyone else in the class. She preferred to dance or play with manipulatives in our centers rather than sit through circle time or small group lessons while I taught literacy skills. So I had to get creative.

I needed a way to give her access to skills without making her kindergarten experience an unhappy one- I mean kindergarten is a time of play, wonder, and fun! At least that’s how I look at it. That’s where book baskets came into play- except I didn’t know they were actually a thing. All I knew was there were certain stories Tiffany liked and that when I connected activities to them she did well.

So depending on what I needed her to learn I’d put together different objects and activities in a basket along with the book and leave it in a center that I knew she’d visit at some point during the day. She loved showing me what she was able to do or asking for a bit of assistance from me or a friend while she tried a new skill. Most importantly, she felt happy while engaging in these activities. My goal is always for kiddos to be happy as they learn – hence my motto of balanced, play-based learning experiences. Alright, so let’s take a look at some skills you can teach through book baskets using a favorite book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin & Eric Carle.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See Book Cover

Literacy Skills: Sequencing

A simple way to help children learn to sequence a story is by placing the book, a storyboard, and cutouts of the story in the basket. Your basket does not need to be full; in fact, it’s better if it’s not to prevent distraction. Children can order the story by placing each picture on the storyboard in the correct order. As always, I recommend a bit of sticky tac to prevent slipping. You can also include blank storyboards and pencils/markers/crayons for your child to draw with. That way, they can either to capture what they have done or to be their actual sequencing activity.

Literacy Skills Storyboard basket example using literacy skills to create a storyboard

Literacy Skills: Writing/Creating Color Words

This book is a great way for children to learn their color words. To help them learn to read or write them you can simply place each color word, some playdough, and a dry erase marker in the basket along with the book. You can add some other color items like I have here for an additional activity. I’ll walk you through each option.

Option A:

Use the color words strips with the actual words written out. They can match the color stones or whatever manipulative you have added to the correct word. Then, they can use playdough to make the letters of each color word. Your child could also use a dry erase marker to write each color word by tracing inside the bubble letters.

Option B:

Use the color word strips that have the shape of each letter. They can use the book as a prompt and write out each word.

Both options have a border that reflects the color word. 

literacy skills color book basket different ways to use play-doh or markers with the coloring book basket

Literacy Skills: Retelling 

Retelling a story is a great way for children to demonstrate their understanding. One way to do this with a book basket is by including materials that give kids a visual prompt. You can include the book, popsicle sticks, sticky tac, and pictures from the story. I prefer laminated pictures and sticky tac because then children can make and reuse their popsicle stick puppets. They can simply use the sticky tac to put each picture on the popsicle stick and then retell the story to you, a sibling, or even their stuffed animals while you’re busy with something else but keeping a listening ear.

supplies needed for the retelling literacy skills book basketpopsicle sticks and pictures for kids to create puppets

Literacy Skills: Create a new story

Creating is the highest form of understanding. Allowing a child to take the basics of a story and then having them adapt or create an entirely new story is fantastic. To do this you can add the book, small world animals, a blank book, and something to write with. Allow your child to create their own story using whatever colors they would like. If they choose to write it out that’s wonderful but if they want to simply follow the oral tradition of storytelling, that’s just as good. Remember there are many stories that started in the oral tradition before they were written down.

another option for practicing retelling literacy skills using toy animals option 2 of the retelling book basket using toy animals

These are only four of many skills you can teach your child using a book basket, and they were all related to reading.  If you’re looking for more ways to work on literacy skills with your child, check out my free How To Teach Reading Skills guide and activities.

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