One of our favourite book-themed activities is to set up a sensory bin to retell a favorite story. Our Gruffalo inspired sensory bin invites toddlers and preschoolers to move the characters through the different scenes recreated in the sensory bin as they review their favourite story. So here we go How to Set up a Gruffalo Sensory Bin and use it for play and encouraging storytelling.
The Gruffalo Sensory Bin
We have included links to the book and materials we used in this activity. If you purchase via these links we may earn a small commission.
The Gruffalo was one of the first stories that my children retold me.
They loved the repetition as well as the illustrations throughout the book.
Check out how we have used the books out in our wildlife garden to create a Log Pile Home for the frogs and toads as well as how we took our storytelling outside and retold the story of the Gruffalo out in the woods.
Materials Needed for Retelling the Gruffalo Story
- Container to use as the sensory bin (I used a large under-bed storage bin to give us lots of room.)
- Substrate for the ground (I used lentils, peas, chickpeas, and rocks. Rice, cereal, or oats would work well, too.)
- Fabric or paper for the water
- Underground home for the fox (large rocks)
- Trees for the owl (paper, glue, and tape)
- Log pile house for the snake (sticks)
- Bridge to cross the stream (a piece of wood)
- Characters from the Gruffalo story (I printed finger puppets on cardstock from Gruffalo website.)
How to Set Up a Gruffalo Sensory Bin
Plan out the areas you want to include from the story. I added a starting point for the mouse and Gruffalo along with a stone path. I also included the fox’s home, the stream with a bridge, trees for the owl, and a log pile for the snake. The Gruffalo’s cave would have been another great addition.
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When choosing your materials, make sure you know your child.
If your child likes to put everything in his or her mouth, choose edible materials (cereals/grains) or use fabrics, paper, and other large materials that are safe for little ones.
Please remember even with edible small materials to supervise your toddlers and preschoolers at all times.
I used a strip of blue fabric for the stream and placed it in the middle of the bin.
On either side of the stream, I added lentils, peas, and chickpeas. I had two different colors of lentils.
I dyed some of them brown with washable liquid watercolor, which seemed to work fine.
However, the wet lentils smelled really bad, so I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. They were also a bit of a pain to work with. They stuck to the paper towel. Once they were dry, the lentils were fine, so I still used them in our Gruffalo sensory bin.
In hindsight, I would have just used some red lentils or brown rice instead of dyeing the white and yellow lentils brown. Chocolate rice cereal would have also been a good option. The chickpeas dyed just fine.
We’ve used washable liquid watercolors to dye chickpeas in the past. See our Space Themed Sensory Bin for the details.
Instead of using lentils and peas, different colors of fabric or shredded paper would be another option for the base of the sensory bin.
Try to use a variety of textures to add to the sensory experience.
To build the fox’s home, I stacked a few different sizes of rocks.
I used a wood chip to represent the bridge across the stream.
The little corner for the owl is my favorite part. I used brown scrapbook paper and green construction paper to create the trees for the owl’s home.
I covered the ground with small rocks here. (Replace the rocks with something edible or use fabric if your little one will try to eat the rocks.)
A pile of sticks creates the log pile house for the snake.
I printed Gruffalo finger puppets from the Gruffalo website onto cardstock. The 20th Anniversary edition of The Gruffalo book also has a Deep Dark Woods Play Scene that includes the main characters from the book.
Using Your Gruffalo Sensory Box for Storytelling
What I love most about this sensory bin is that it is set up to encourage storytelling.
After reading The Gruffalo book, you and your children can retell the story together.
Then, your children can continue on their own.
My daughter (age 5) enjoyed moving the characters around the Gruffalo sensory bin and interacting with her little brother (age 3).
Together they developed their own storyline for the Gruffalo characters.