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Story boxes create special opportunities to revisit the storylines themselves of a particular story. They encourage children to discuss key elements such as character and plot and to make decisions about how they create the setting. Children can use the box to story tell the next episode of a story or create another story with a similar setting or characters.

Here’s how you can create the world of a book in a story box in your setting or classroom.

You will need:

Rainforest in a shoe box

A Rainforest/Jungle themed shoe box by Oliver Parry


  1. Gather and organise the materials with the children.
  2. Read a book which has a least one strong setting for the children to imagine and visualise.
  3. Encourage the children to agree on the setting from the book that they will create inside the box.
  4. Ask pairs to make a plan and gather the resources they need.
  5. Giving question prompts may help the children to visualise their end product. How will the box look on the outside? Will it provide a clue to the scene inside?
  6. Ask pairs or groups of children to collaborate to create their story box world.
  7. Give time for children to play with their story box world, re-enacting events from the book or creating new scenes or stories.

Top Tip: Why not use your small world in a shoe box for creative story writing? These little creations are great for igniting imagination and story telling.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears inspired shoe box

Bruce and the 3 Lizards story shoe box inspired by Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. By Oliver Parry

Why not create ‘themed’ small worlds in a shoe box too, or events such as The Great Fire of London to help with learning and discussions in class:

The great fire of london in a shoe box 3

The Great Fire of London in a shoe box by Oliver Parry, aged 7.

Book recommendations that we know story boxes work well with:


  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Biscuit Bear by Mini Grey

Year 1/2

  • Man on the moon (a day in the life of Bob) by Simon Bartram
  • The Great Explorer by Chris Judge

Year 3/4

  • Leon and the Place Between by Angela McAllister
  • Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

Year 5/6

  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton
  • Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

For more inspiration on books for story boxes please take a look at our book packs here.

With thanks to CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) for writing this blog and to Oliver Parry, age 6 for the wonderful photos of his shoe box creations.
CLPE support teachers to introduce great children’s literature in inspiring and creative ways.

Small world in a shoe box

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