• Sally's Story Bags

  • Sally's Story Bags


    My name is Sally McGivern and I have worked with young children since 1982. I have an NNEB Qualification in childcare and a Cache Level 3 Qualification in Working With Children.


    I have been lucky enough to work in a variety of childcare roles, which has deepened my understanding of what children enjoy and what I think parents are looking for in an educational product - a product that is fun and engaging but also has a learning intention.


    I have always thought that sharing stories with children is the best part of the job, and have always made my own resources to bring stories to life for children.


    I have been a nanny several times and I have worked in nurseries both as a keyworker and as a manager.


    I have sold toys in a toy shop, run a Sports Centre Crèche and I have worked within a multicultural centre where I introduced stories and rhymes to children who were just developing their understanding of the English language.


    I am now working as a Children's Centre Worker and I deliver Story Times on Thursdays from 10.30am to 11.30am at Arbury Court Library.









  • Sally's story bags

    Bringing books to life




    I am passionate about presenting stories in an engaging and inclusive way, using well written and beautifully illustrated books, combined with well thought out visible props to support language and communication in all children.






    • The Jute bags are Fair Trade and bio-degradable
    • The dolls and puppets are made by the Puppet Company who follow Fair Trade practice
    • I sell Fair Trade Fairies, Fairy Doors and accessories from Believe-You-Can who give 50% of profits to the indian Community who make them to fund community projects including Education and Health Care.
    • I am a volunteer at the Cancer Research Shop on Burleigh Street Cambridge and I have a  Charity Shop Story Bag range  containing  props,toys and books bought from the fantastic range of Charity Shops in Cambridge.
    • I use books from QED Publishing and Usborne Publishing because they produce such lovely books for children. The Front covers of their books are reproduced onto the bags with kind permission from both publishers.







    Developing Early Maths Through Story



    Maths Story Bags


    (Please see the Gallery for details of these Story Bags )


    Marion Leeper is an early years teacher and local Storyteller who has used story and small world play to teach maths throughout a 20 year teaching career.

    She is a regular writer for Early Years Educator magazine and many of her features focus on Story Telling and mathematical thinking.


    I met Marion whilst doing one of her brilliant Story Telling workshops and she and her publishers (www.practicalpreschoolbooks.com) very kindly gave me permission to put together Story Bags to match some of the stories in her book - Developing Early Maths Through Story

    See below for more details on this book and the Story Bags that accompany it.


    The stories are:

    1. Teremok - A traditional Russian Folktale.

    It's about Mousie Brown and her friends mole and squirrel who find a box in the forest and attempt to share it until Brown Bear comes along and there is no room for him.

    This story explores: different ways of dividing up a group of objects; the concept of none , more and gone; and feelings about friends and sharing.


    2. The Monkey and the Stepping Stones OUT OF STOCK

    Tumbil the Monkey makes mistakes counting the stepping stones across the river.

    The floods wash the stepping stones away and brings the snakes down the river.

    Tumbil makes the snakes line up to be counted.

    He gets across by jumping on the snakes as he counts them.

    This is a story about making mistakes in counting and finding a solution - allowing children to see that we can all make mistakes and that mistakes often lead to solutions.


    3. 5 Foolish Dinosaurs

    5 dinosaurs go to play in a swamp.

    Each dinosaur counts to see if all their friends are there, but thinks that one is missing because they forgot to count themselves.

    Little Tree Frog counts all the dinosaurs .

    There were 5 of them all along.

    This is a simple story that helps children to understand the concept of the last number in the set - it gives them practice in learning where to stop in counting and reminds them to include every item in the set.

    When I used this story Bag with my 2 year olds in the nursery where I work, it was enough just to let each child point and count all the dinosaurs and agree on the final number. Older children will get the joke - about remembering to count yourself!


    The Story Bags complement the book which has lots of ideas on how to extend the learning intentions for each story.


    Each story in the book and states the Maths objectives as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.


    The puppets are from the Puppet Company and the props have been especially selected for their sensory properties - e.g. soft grasses in the monkey Story Bag and squishy boulder in the dinosaur Story Bag.




    Find me at:



    The Early Years Conference

    The Marriot Hotel, Huntingdon PE29 6FL 8.30am to 4pm

    Thursday 7th and Friday 8th March 2019


    Contact me if you would like me to do a stall at your Cambridge event



  • Shop Now

    Free collection from Cambridge or plus P&P - please contact me for a quote.

    PayPal, cheque ( made out to Sally McGivern) or cash accepted - please ignore the checkout system and contact me directly to arrange payment and delivery or collection

  • What's in the bag?

    Teaching Children To Play Fair:

    The contents of the bags are an eclectic range of Fair Trade, new, vintage, and recycled items.


    I look for the unusual - something that will engage and fascinate a child. My top 3 finds so far have been a soft toy penicillin, a huge soft toy Roman Gladiator and a vintage Pinocchio with a nose that grows!


    I am very keen to use Fair Trade items in the bags and stock the gorgeous fairies, angels and pirates from www.believe-you-can.com

    Their lovely stock is designed in the UK and made by workers in India whose company is approved by the World Fair Trade Organisation.

    Buying from them supports fair wage, good working conditions, and no child labour - magical!


    All toys used in the bags have the CE Safety mark.


    I make every effort to ensure that toys and colours match the corresponding character or item in the book, but where this is not possible this can be used as a learning opportunity in which differences can be discussed.



    Story Time



    The Small Story Bags Bags contain a book and a toy and are perfect for one-to-one work with a child or with a small group.

    The Large Story Bags contain a Story Book with toys and props that will illustrate the story and are ideal for bigger groups or for a child who loves the story.




    Rhyme Time


    The Rhyme Bags contain a Rhyme card and props that will illustrate the rhyme.


    The Rhyme Bags are perfect for one to one work with a child and with small groups. They are also ideal as presents, because a favourite rhyme can be picked to suit the child.






  • How to use story bags

    I am passionate about presenting stories in an engaging and inclusive way, using well written and beautifully illustrated books, combined with well thought out visible props to support language and communication in all children.



    The bags are packed with beautiful books and exciting toys, to encourage children to engage in stories and themes and develop a whole range of developmental skills, including  creative and imaginative skills. The bags will usually also include an activity book or non-fiction book to be used to extend their learning on a particular subject.


    My Story bags and book bags can be used as a learning  resource for parents, in schools, nurseries and other childcare settings.


    They are also great as presents - and the activity bags  can be especially useful in the school holidays!


    I strongly support fair and ethical trade and the Jute bags I use are bought from companies whose products are environmentally friendly and ethically sourced.


    I am also always on the hunt for Fair-trade products to use in the bags and these will be listed on the contents list if used in the bag.


  • Fair Trade Resources - teach children to play fair.


    I use Fair Trade and eco friendly resources whenever I can.


     The  Jute bags that I use in the Story Bags  are ethically traded  and bio-degradable.


    I am always looking for really nice Fair Trade/ethicaly traded  resources to use in the bags and I also sell Fairly Traded items individually.


    I would be interested to hear from Fair Trade sellers who have items that would fit in with

    the rest of my stock. 




    Fair Trade Fairies


    These lovely people design their beautiful Fair Trade fairies in the UK and they are made in India, where the workers benefit from: excellent working conditions, a fair wage, free childcare and community welfare projects such as education for children including those with special needs.

    They also fund health clinics and Aids awareness support.

    No child labour is used in the production of the Fair Trade Fairies.

    New in for 2016 are the beautiful ballerina fairies seen in the Gallery and in April I will be selling Fairy Doors - I can't wait!!!







    This is a Cambridge based charity that supports indigenous African initiatives in development.

    They work closely with community leaders in East Africa to understand the development needs of communities. The products that I sell on behalf of Afrinspire are produced by women who make and sell items to support themselves and others.


    As seen in the Gallery above, the giraffes and purses are made by Stella in Uganda. The money raised goes to support girls who were abducted as children by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and given to rebel commanders as wives, and are now returning from captivity as widows, with children.


    The elephants in the gallery are made by Christine in Uganda. She trains women to sew these cute little elephants and the money that is made goes towards raising chickens to sell to support orphans in Kyenojojo..


    The giraffes and elephants are for home decoration - they are not intended to be toys.



    The Puppet Company


    These guys make gorgeous puppets which are designed in the UK and made in the Far East.

    The Puppet Company follows Fair Trade principles and regularly visits their workshops to ensure that production is of the best quality and the workers conditions are of the highest standards.

    I use many of their puppets and dolls in my Story Bags and Rhyme Bags.

    They are beautifully made and I have been buying their products for over 30 years .


    About  Story Tellers


    Lydia, aged 5 and her mother Eleanor wrote this lovely book together which is  set in a fairy world where a fairy bug called Stripe goes missing and has to be rescued by his fairy family.

    Lydia supplied the words and Eleanor designed and painted the illustrations.

    Eleanor commissioned me to make this story bag and is holding  story telling sessions around Cambridgeshire.

    Fairy mission to Find Stripe can  be bought on I-tunes and Amazon.

    by Lydia & Eleanor Port - Burke

    Marion Leeper & Cambridge Story Tellers

    Marion is a key figure in the Cambridge Story Tellers organisation and was elected Cambridge Bard for 2016.


    For more information on this creative group look at www.cambridgestory tellers.com


    I have been attending these workshops since the first one on 17th February 2016.


    These workshops focus on telling stories to adults but  the skills Marion teaches can be easily adapted to telling stories to children

    One week Marion brought her Story Coat with lots of little pockets for hidden characters and her story mat which is fabulous - it has lots of different textures that lend themselves to some very creative stories for children.


     Marion is an inspiring story teller and teacher - she makes one feel that there is no right or wrong way to tell stories - just your OWN way - the way that feels right for oneself. If you're engaged in the story - other people will be too.


    The workshops can be taken individually - just contact Marion if you'd like to come along  (contact details are on the poster.) so that she can let you know if you need to bring anything along to fit in with that nights topic.


    Marion has lots of dates this year when she is Story Telling to children in wonderfully atmospheric venues - such as some of the  Cambridge Museums  and the Lady's chapel in Ely Cathedral. See her website -

    www.marionleeperstoryteller.co.uk for details.


    This series of workshops has now ended - but watch this space for new dates.


    Developing Early Maths through Story by Marion Leeper.

    Marion's book was  published by Practical Pre-School book in 2015.

    Please see Gallery for more Details.

    Marion uses stories and rhymes to put maths into context and demonstrates maths concepts in ways meaningful to children.

    It has 14 chapters on numbers 0-13, each including:

    • A brief outline of a traditional story
    • EYFS Learning objectives
    • Resources needed
    • It is aimed primarily at pre-school children but there are also very helpful suggestions for younger children and babies


    I am currently working with Marion  on a range of Story Bags using stories from this book with kind permission from Practical Pre-School Books. Please see the Gallery for details.





  •  Contact Me:

    Also find me on Facebook - Sally's Story Bags

  • Any queries? 

    You can also use the contact form below to enquire about any bags or ask me any questions. I'd love to hear from you.

  • Featured books

    These lovely people below have very kindly given me permission to reproduce the book covers of their books for the front of the bags.

    All of  these books are available from  good book shops.


    Prices may vary.




    The story bags containing books published by QED, and available for sale in the Gallery at the Story Bag price are:


    1. The Short - sighted Giraffe

    ISBN: 978-1-78171-7134-4

    Book £4.99

    ( - I use this one as a demonstration model when visiting childcare settings - links in very nicely with children  wearing glasses & visits to the Opticians)


    2. Hens Don't Crow

    A story about being resourceful.

    ISBN: 978-1-78171-711-0

    Book £4.99


    3. Little Chick and the Secret of Sleep

    A good starting point for discussing sleep issues with children.

    ISBN: 978-1-78171-717-2

    Book £4.99


    4. How To Catch A Falling Star

    A story about friendship.

    ISBN: 978-1-78171-712-7

    Book £4.99


    5. Banana Monster

    Lovely photographs of chimps.

    ISBN: 978-184835-6481



    6. Listen Up Pup

    A story about change.

    ISBN: 9781781717141



    7. I'm The Happiest!

    All about having pride in your friends

    ISBN: 978-1-7817-1137-8.


    8. Banana Monster

    ISBN:978 1 84835 648 1







    1. The Gingerbread Man Story Bag

    ISBN: 978-1-4095-3166-1

    Book £4.99 


    2. On The Moon

    ISBN: 9780746052112

    Book £6.99


    3. Princess things to make and do.

    ISBN: 0 7460 6346 6



    4. Alice In Wonderland

    ISBN: 9 780746 076590



    5. Wizards

    ISBN: 0 7460 5310



    6. The Story of Ships

    ISBN: 97807 4608095 5



    7. The Frog Prince

    ISBN: 978 1 4095 0



    8. Owls

    ISBN: 978 1 4095 3066 1