| | |

Fairy tales in the forest – The Gruffalo returns

I maintain I am not a creative person.  So I baulked at first when we were asked to write  a short story that tied in with Forest Holidays’ project, Fairy Tales in the Forest.  However, considering how much N loves books, and how I’d love to be able to encourage creativity in N, I thought we could try some different methods to write a story.

Jules Miller has teamed up with Forest Holidays to provide some tips on writing stories, to encourage children to get away from screens and develop a love of books and stories.  My favourite tip from Jules is to use a forest treasure hunt to get the creative juices flowing by using all the treasures you find on your hunt.

how to write fairy stories

As we won’t be at another forest for a while, I tried some of my own ideas.   Luckily N is happy just hearing an ongoing narrative as a story from me, rather than a finely crafted piece of prose, so we’ve created our own simple stories.

Use questions as a prompt

N’s a bit young at the moment to be making up his own stories, although he’s very good at commentating what he’s doing in his play.  So my first thought was to simply ask N some questions and see what sort of ideas he’d come up with. 

Needless to say, his ability and interest in answering questions and coming up with ideas hasn’t really progressed.  Makes a change when usually he doesn’t stop talking! 


As you can see, he’s a bit obsessed with The Gruffalo.  We went on the Gruffalo trail a couple of weeks ago, so the interest in forests and the Gruffalo isn’t yet abating.   You can find out more about the Gruffalo Trails here.

Use pictures to mix and match a story

We won’t be going to a forest soon, so I dug out some magazines and cut up a variety of pictures, in the hope that providing some prompts might help us develop the plot of a short story. 

Picture story prompts

Once you’ve got pictures, it’s just a case of choosing the pictures in order, and creating a story from them.  By using this method, if you have a box or bag full of prompt pictures or flashcards, you can have a never ending supply of ‘choose your own adventure’ stories (remember those from the 80s?!)


From our picture tale, I introduce the surreal: 

Adventures in the blue

One day two boys went fishing.  They ambled over the rickety bridge across to the other side of the river watching out for the silvery fish swimming below them. 

As the river widened the boys spotted a boat.   They swung from a tree branch overhead and into the boat, unfurling the sail and sailing downstream. 

As they sailed, they heard magical music playing from the clouds.  Birds began to fly alongside, singing their song until the rainclouds launched plump radishes from the sky at the boys in the boat.  The boys picked up the radishes to see huge comical mouths on them singing along to the pitter patter of their falling.

The singing radishes illustrated by Jules Miller

As the boat bumped to a halt at the edge of a lagoon, the boys gazed into the sunset to see giraffes moving inland.  Pondering how to get home again, the boys heard the roar of fire.  They were drawn to the sound, running so fast, they stumbled into the hot air balloon basket as it rose up over the sands.

Only half an hour after leaving to go fishing, the boys landed back at home in time for bed.


Disclosure: We received a selection of books from Forest Holidays to prompt us in our story writing for National Share a Story Month,  but all words are our own.  Jules Miller’s book Ellie and the Tooth Fairy is available on kindle, and on hardback from June.

Love it? Share it


  1. Hi Emma, Just wanted to say how much I love your idea of using a series of pictures to create a story! I particularly love the image of the ‘singing radishes’ falling from the rain clouds. It really does go to show – that even on a rainy indoors day – there’s always a story just waiting to be created. Brilliant!

    1. Thanks Jules, appreciate your comments. You’re right – stories are just there to be made, especially when there are children around.

      1. PS. I’ve emailed you an illustration to go with your story. The Singing Radishes 🙂

  2. Its amazing ,,How you got such a nice idea to blog about.. Its very cool and interesting..Creativity Has no end ..Your Blog gives new ideas to children to increase their creativity Scope .. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. When my son plays by himself, I can hear his imagination taking off. He can create his own stories all by himself.I think something like this would be great.

  4. Fairy tales made by children are a powerful tool. They help you to know your child and they help the child in their psychological process and cognitive processes.

  5. My niece loves watching fairytales. She also loves listening to princess stories. I don’t know how to create a beautiful story, this one will be a great help for me next time I do s story telling.

  6. Such a creative idea to make your own stories with the pics and all. Loved it

  7. I am a lover of stories 🙂 This post makes me happy! Going to share this on G+. And, I think you are a creative person. It takes creativity to be open to try new things.

  8. I love the idea of creating my own stories for Harry or indeed him creating some as well. He has recently started to “read” to himself in bed and his imagination is quite something, I must try and capture it properly soon.

  9. That is such a cute and creative way to make your own story.

  10. I haven’t thought on making up a fairytale with my daughter before. What a great idea! Sure will try it!

  11. I used to think i can tell a story like this to my kids, but for some reason i have a hard time.. I wish i was better at it for their sake when they were younger.

  12. this was a nice idea. Especially the mixing of photos to make a story like a comic book

  13. Photos are always effective tools in storytelling, much more if it’s a fairy tale. It’s good because I think it catches the attention of children. At the same time, it’s helpful in such a way that kids will easily remember a story or a thing, because it’s visual.

    1. You’re right. You also need visuals to keep the interest of young children as you’re reading. They go well in hand with copy

  14. Wow what an awesome post Emma I really enjoyed reading and watching it! It always amazes me the imagination of toddlers! you must be very proud of N!

    Having no kids of my own I do find it hard to get inspiration for blog post ideas at times and I am sure once I do become a dad it will make that task easier!

    I was lucky enough to work on a website a few years ago for a children’s book author local to me and it amazed me how someone in his 60’s and a grown up kid could write his 4 books for toddlers!

    I will drop the link if your interested as there very good reads and I think they may give you some inspiration!

    Great post Emma will be back!
    – PD

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Phillip. Having children really does make it easier to think of things to write about ….although I might run out of topics when he’s older!

      Interesting when you say about people not in touch with young children, but writing books for really young children. I had a guest post a while back from a children’s author – and she really isn’t keen on children at all. Amused me as to how she could understand what children could like, but I suppose it’s all about creativity and imagination.

      Thanks for commenting.

      1. My pleasure Emma!
        I know I could not write a children’s book anyway! but I do find it easy to be creative at times! Well I suppose I would not be good at my job as a designer/developer if I was not creative hey!

        Glad you liked my comment and happy to do it!
        Keep Creating Emma!

        – PD

  15. Love the idea of the prompts and getting children to think! I would not know where to begin in a forest as I’ve always been a city girl…learning before hand can make such a difference too! I usually put together a small booklet of activities when we undertake something big! 🙂 A forest treasure hunt sounds so magical…I think it’s something we might do this summer..Enjoyed your post, as always! xx

    1. Preparing activities in advance is a good idea. Most ‘organised’ forests have leaflets of what to see, and where the trails are. I’m always a ‘turn up and see what’s going on’ sort, but specific activities are probably much more productive. I probably need to think of that when N’s a bit older…bugbox is definitely on my list to get.

  16. Lovely story! My absolute favourite stories were the ones my dad used to make up. They always seemed so magical.

    1. I try and encourage my OH to make up stories for N (as he doesn’t do reading). I think especially at this age, you can get away with a lot, and it doesn’t take a lot to just talk and let things flow. Thanks for commenting

  17. This is SUCH a creative idea! I love the idea of using pictures to create your own story. Even though I don’t have any kids yet, I always go over to my friends’ house and we do story time with her little daughter, so i’m definitely going to create one using your awesome tips!

    1. I thought of it from those childhood story games where you write a word then turn over the page, then pass the page on to the next person to create a story. This is great for young children

  18. Great post! I love anything that encourages story telling…I am rubbish at it! Last year we bought our 6 year old some ‘story cubes’. They are 9 cubes each with 6 different pictures on their sides. You throw the cubes and get 9 different pictures with which to make up a story! Our 4 and 6 year old love playing this and come up with the most lovely stories!! Anything that encourages creativity has to be good I reckon!

    1. Ooh yes, I’ve seen those cubes. They’re a great idea. I suppose this is just a thriftier/upcycling way of doing it.
      Thanks for stopping by

  19. This is ace! That story could form part of the Wizard of Oz or something. I love the singing Radishes 🙂 I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at writing a children’s story so I think I’ll be looking at those tips myself!!


    1. It’s amazing what you can come up with with a few prompts. If I’d had to sit down and think of something I’d not have known where to start, but getting children to think up things helps too.

Comments are closed.