Storytelling Activities For Children That Parents & Child Professionals Need To Know About!

Storytelling activities for children play an important role in early literacy and language development.

There are many ways to incorporate storytelling into fun activities.

But having some magnetic story boards will make it so much easier (and fun).

Magnetic storyboards also allow for open ended guided play as well as unstructured free play.

I love the Magnetivity sets from Melissa and Doug for several reasons!

What Are The Magnetivity Sets All About?

*This article WAS NOT sponsored by Melissa & Doug but does contain affiliate links*

These magnetic play sets are a novel idea (recommended for both boys and girls ages 4-10) that mix the fun of blocks with the creativity of a doll house into one amazing package and are a perfect example of a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, Math) toy!

There are 12 different sets to choose from!

Every box comes with many double sided illustrated magnetic panels.

Each square/triangle panel is surrounded by a magnetic strip.

They all connect to each other very well.

What’s In Each Set?

Each set varies with the amount of panels and magnetic accessories that you get, but they all come with several square and triangular panels that can be attached to each other via their magnetic edges.

A variety of images/story scenes are on each side of the panels allowing for many different types of stories to be told.

In addition, you will also receive several characters that stand upright as well as 2 dimensional magnets (accessories) that adhere well to the panels and the upright characters.

Storytelling Activities Preschoolers & School Aged Children Will Love

Each of these story play sets focuses on a different theme, therefore each one is it’s own storytelling activity.

But if you have more than one of these sets you can combine them to come up with some really creative and wacky stories!

Some specific skills a child can learn by playing with these magnetic dollhouses include (in addition to storytelling and story recall):

♦ giving and following directions
♦ prepositions (on, under, beside, behind, off, between)
♦ vocabulary
♦ asking and answering questions
♦ prediction
♦ early literacy

I would have loved to have had one of these sets while I was practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist.

The language building possibilities are endless!

If you are a Speech-Language Pathologist you will not regret adding one (or a few) of these sets to your toolbox!

Now let’s take a quick look at a few of my favorite sets.

I will also add some additional storytelling ideas that work well with these sets.

Our House with Vehicle

This is a 100 piece set that includes a car, 3 magnetic play figures, 16 two sided story building panels and 80 magnetic accessories.

Some of the things you will find on the panels and magnets are a living room, kitchen, bedrooms, pool, as well as pets, outfits and more.

Melissa & Doug Magnetivity Our House Play Set

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If you want to add to the storytelling possibilities consider expanding the Our House magnetic play set with your own paper city and characters.

Head over to Made By Joel for some great templates!

Pet Center with Rescue Vehicle

This set includes a rescue vehicle, 13 double sided magnetic panels, 7 magnetic characters (people and pets) and 74 magnetic accessories.

You will find a vet office, grooming salon, outdoor play area and much more on the story wall panels and in the accessory magnets.

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Add some extra characters to your story with some toilet paper roll people!

A Little Learning For Two has some simple instructions for how to make these.

Here are 2 short videos of my kids setting up their Pet Portrait Studio by Build and Imagine.

The Build and Imagine sets are no longer available as they were bought out by Melissa and Doug.

However, this set is very similar to the Melissa and Doug Pet Center.

They were being shy and didn’t want to talk on camera.

So unfortunately you won’t be able to hear some of the great stories they came up with.

Can you see how these sets can help with fine motor skill development?

Some of the magnetic accessory pieces are quite small and stick well to the panels.

So it will take some fine motor skills to manipulate these.

This is also why I wouldn’t recommend this toy for children under the age of 4.

Those little pieces can quickly end up in a toddler’s mouth!

School with School Bus Vehicle

This set 106 piece set comes with a school bus, 6 people with stands, 16 double sided magnetic panels and 83 magnetic accessories.

There are many different “classrooms” including an auditorium and gym!

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For some extra fun, try making story stones.

Add some more characters and props to the school.

Happy Hooligans has some great instructions to help get you started.

Underwater Adventure

The Underwater Adventure set pairs well with the Pet Center and Pirate Cove for even more story lines.

But all the sets work well on their own too.

This is one of the smaller sets and includes 55 pieces.

There are two upright wooden dolls and 10 double sided building panels.   And don’t forget about the magnetic accessories.  There are 41 of those as well.

It also comes with a submarine!

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A great extension activity for this set could be to make a mini magnetic fishing set!

All you need are some small sticks (or a thin piece of doweling), string, a small magnet, paper clips and a few sea creatures cut out of paper.

Attach the string to the stick and the magnet to the string.  Add a paper clip to each sea creature.

Cast your fishing rod and reel in the sea creatures when the magnet touches the paper clip!

Pizza & Ice Cream Shop with Food Truck

This is one of my favorite sets!

It comes with 105 pieces including 13 double sided magnetic panels, 4 people with stands, food truck vehicle and 87 magnetic accessories.

This restaurant themed magnetic play set allows children to make their very own pizza parlor and ice cream shop!

get best price buttonTry adding some more props and characters with a storytelling basket!

Medieval Castle

The Medieval Castle contains 82 pieces!

You will receive 14 magnetic building panels, 60 magnetic accessories and 5 magnetic characters with stands.

Some of the scenes include an animal stable, throne room, weaving room, bedroom, a dining room, and a working drawbridge!

Just imagine all the stories that can be told with The Medieval Castle!

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Hospital with Ambulance

Kid love playing hospital and doctor, so this set should be appealing to all kids!

This hospital themed set comes with 83 pieces.

It includes 1 ambulance, 4 play figures with wooden stands, 16 magnetic panels and 62 magnetic accessories.

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Every Parent, Teacher and Speech-Language Pathologist Should Invest In The Magnetivity Sets!

These magnetic play sets are so simple yet extremely effective for open ended learning, pre-literacy skill building, fine motor skill development, speech-language development, problem solving, social skills and much more!

Children can get so creative with these sets.  For example, they can try stacking panels to make a really tall tower.

As you can see, storytelling activities for children don’t have to be complicated or require intricate lesson plans.

Your child will see this as a fun toy and will have no idea how many new skills they are learning!

The Melissa & Doug Magnetivity sets get two thumbs up from me!

kids playing with magnetic dollhouse with text overlay


  1. Twack Romero

    I watched the videos and just wished they’d been longer. There’s something quite magical when children are in that ‘creative’ zone. I look back at my own childhood and remember ‘150-in-one’ electronics kits, lego and the like. Always something to build or make and then to create that story that would go with what you had just made.

    I worry that children today don’t have that same opportunity to make something that also allows their minds to explore. The ‘Magnetivity’ sets reminded me of the older toys that seemed to have disappeared over the years, being replaced by ‘done for you’ games and ones that leave little room for imagination. 

    These sets are defintitely something worth having when the grandchildren are old enough to play with them. Checking the prices out gave me a pleasant surprise as well. 

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      My children didn’t want me doing the videos so I was lucky to get the snippets that I did.  You are right, unfortunately many toys today don’t leave much to the imagination.  You put batteries in and push a bunch of buttons.  

      Traditional toys such as Lego, magnet sets, play kitchens, dolls, etc. are so much better for a child’s development.  And science is starting to prove this!

  2. RazvanIlie

    Thanks a lot for such a great article about the importance of storytelling activities for children and the explanations that are given.

    I have a 5 year old child. I really like reading and telling stories. The toys presented in the article are very interesting and I am thinking of getting one of these sets for my child.

    Thanks again for this post. If you don’t mind, I will share this article on my social media account. Good luck!

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      You’re welcome.  And I definitely don’t mind you sharing the article!

  3. Nathan

    We have just recently had our first child and I am very grateful that I came across your post. I never thought about my son playing with a doll house but I can honestly say this would be one that I would allow him to play with. These houses are very well thought out and have many pieces to put together to make many stories out of. I am grateful that there are still toys being made that allow my child to play and learn without having to be tied to a computer or TV. Thanks for writing such a great post.

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Nathan,

      Thanks for your comment. I really wish that all children’s toys would be gender neutral. There are so many skills that kids learn by playing with dollhouses and dolls. The Build & Imagine magnetic dollhouses are great because they combine building with imaginative play!

      You might be interested in reading the article Do Your Son A Favor – Buy Him A Doll! I discuss the many skills a child can gain and strengthen by playing with dolls!

  4. Liliana Parziale

    Oh wow! I was looking for a no-tech toy for my boy of 5 months old when I stumbled upon this article. I have to tell you, I am excited just to think about the possibilities.

    I was looking around and I didn’t see anything for a one year old, I think it is too early at that age, but I am excited about getting them when he gets a little older, 2 years or so, which will be here quicker than I think.

    I just hate to see kids watching tv for hours and hours during the day or playing with their iPads. I just think it is sad that these toys are taking all the creativity away. Parents today need to find a way to counteract the use of tech toys and tv. I am not saying not to use them at all, I am just saying it would be good to have choices. I am definitely going to bookmark this page for future reference!

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks so much for your comment Liliana! I agree with you 100% that children’s time with technology should be limited. This is especially true for children under the age of 3.

      The Build & Imagine sets are recommended for children over the age of 4 mainly because of the small parts.

      I have a lot of information on my site for babies and toddlers that would probably be more relevant for you with your son still being so young.

      Make sure to take a look at Best Learning Toys For Babies To Encourage Language Development for non tech toys for your son! I also provide many ways to use the recommended toys for optimal learning!

  5. MIchelle

    I’m am so excited about the introduction to these awesome toys! I can never get enough of great learning and imaginative play toys! These are great and totally affordable in my opinion! I love love love the draw and build set where they can color it themselves. What a cool addition to all the different collections. Are the surfaces of all the sets pretty wipeable in case sticky fingers get a hold of these or are they more paper like and shouldn’t be wiped with a wet cloth?

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Michelle,

      I’m happy to hear that you love the Build & Imagine sets as much as I do! They are very durable and the surfaces can be wiped with a damp cloth to get greasy finger prints off. But if they did get colored on it could be a challenge to get that off (depending on what was used).

      But that is what the Draw & Build set is for. Children can draw anything they want and change it anytime they want.

  6. Laurie peterson

    Wow thanks so much for this amazingly detailed review! I am glad the kids are having fun and building language and STEM skills as they play.

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      You’re welcome Laurie! I love sharing great learning toys with parents. Unfortunately it can be quite tricky for well meaning parents to determine what a good toy is and isn’t because marketing these days can convince anyone of anything.

  7. Laura

    So cute, and what a great idea for a toy too! I love these because they don’t seem to only be aimed at girls but boys too. I Especially love the marine rescue center. My son loves the Octonauts and would love to do his own marine rescue stories. Maybe we could even use your suggestions on making our own characters and make some Octonauts to go with it! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Laura,

      I totally agree! Toys should be for both boys and girls, just like the Build & Imagine sets! My kids are 7 and 9 and still love Octonauts. And the Marine Rescue Center would be perfect for a little Octonauts fan. Just think about all the stories your son could come up with!

  8. Adam

    I became a father for the first time last July and obviously with no experience being a parent it is always nice to come across as site like yours, with my son being 9 months I obviously went into the birth to 2 years old section and there are so many articles for me to read to keep me busy 🙂

    I noticed this article on your blog roll and was intrigued by it. I wasn’t aware of the importance of storytelling and definitely haven’t heard of the Build & Imagine sets. This is great information that I can use in the future!

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Adam,

      Congrats on becoming a father! And thanks for taking a look around the site. Hopefully you had a chance to read Best Learning Toys For Babies To Encourage Language Development. I share a lot of information about how to use the toys I recommend in a natural way while encouraging language development and learning.

      Once your son is closer to 4, I highly recommend a Build & Imagine set!


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