Educational Activities for the Shopping Basket by John Burningham

John Burningham’s book, The Shopping Basket, is a delightful tale suitable for young readers. The story is about a boy called Steven who is asked to go shopping and his adventures on the journey home. For the purpose of this article, the examples of lesson activities are related to the revised Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. 

Communication and language

Read the story, invite children to join in with any of the parts they can read or remember through the repetitive language used in the book. Discussions about the story, the animals and the shopping trip will allow children to develop their confidence when expressing their opinions to their peers. Unfamiliar vocabulary can be explored and thinking about the different types of animals there are and the noises they make will help children to express themselves. A memory game can be played to see what the children can remember on the shopping list.


John Burningham has written many books, so there are opportunities for the children to experience a selection of books by the same author and form opinions about them. Ask them which one is their favourite and which character they like the best. The children can make their own books using pictures or words depending upon their ability.


The Shopping Basket is a great book for encouraging children to count because Steven’s mother gives him a list of things he has to buy. Together the children can count the number of particular items such as the six eggs or count the total of mixed items altogether. Using pictures or plastic replicas the children can make up a game asking for someone to count out a number of items. The illustrations have patterns and shapes, for example a man has a stripy tie. Steven’s mother has a spots on her apron. The fruit is made into a triangle on the page which leads to plenty of discussion.

Understanding the world

The book allows children to make sense of the world and they can talk about the different kinds of shops they have visited. The role play area can be set up as a shop so that the children can make their own lists and buy products. Many animals are featured in the book, and the children can talk about which ones they recognise and where they might see them.

Expressive arts and design

Making the shopping items from salt dough is one of the ways the children can bring the story to life. A printing station can be set up using fruit or vegetables to create different patterns, allowing children to create a repeating pattern. Using paints the children can create different patterns they have seen in the book, creating spots on a paper or stripes. Mum’s apron, or the man’s tie in the shop can be cut out to link it to the story. Different materials can be used to draw pictures from the book, such as pencil crayons, or felt-tips. Animal masks can be made and then the children can re-enact the story in small groups.

Physical Development

Using music in PE, the children can develop their coordination, by pretending to be Steven shopping an moving around the gym, weaving in and out and watching that they don’t bump into anyone. Exploring the movements different animals might make such as the elephant, or the bear will them to think about a slow, fast, tall, or small animal.

In conclusion, John Burningham’s enchanting book, The Shopping Basket has plenty of scope for young children in a range of curriculum areas.