Hugless Dougless Story Box

We love using toys to act out the stories from our favourite books. The items in our story box don’t really need to look like the things in the story. We could use sticks instead of toys and it would still work perfectly. This activity is all about imagination! We just happened to have a lot toys that do match the characters in Hugless Douglas and we spent the afternoon playing along. 

What you’ll need

  • Some items to represent the characters in the story (Like a toy rabbit)
  • Some items to represent the objects in the story (Like a stone)
  • Some items to represent the scenery in the story (Like a box)
  • The book Hugless Douglas by David Melling


  1. Collect up your items and put them inside the box along side the book
  2. Read the story while your small acts it out
  3. Let your small tell you the story while you act it out
  4. Add your own play and ideas in to the story if you like
  5. Keep playing when the story is finished and find out what happens to the characters next


Hugless Douglas by David Melling is just the best book for this type of activity. I think it’s partly because the setting doesn’t really change and also because there’s a very manageable number of characters for us to meet on Douglas’s journey. Each page had a new and separate action. Douglas hugs a stone and then hugs a tree. There are clear illustrations in the book which made it easy to perform each action. Small can’t read yet but he could follow the story easily by looking at the pictures.

Having fun with a story box helped us to practice our talking and explaining skills. When Small was “reading” the book he directed me and told me how to act out the scene. Having the toys also helped him to explain what it was that he imagined happened in the story. Everyone interprets stories differently and Small is no different, it’s just harder to for him to tell me what his interpretation is. When we were playing today Small extended the story by putting the items that Douglas hugs into a toy dustbin lorry and then dumping them out under the bed. He told me that he was getting rid of the things that had worried Douglas. He’d been able to interpret Douglas’s feelings about being squished by the stone and pricked by the splinters in the tree. He’d also been able to use the toys to explain his interpretation to me. I thought that was absolutely outstanding!

The more we can do this the better because it builds the communication skills we need to venture out into the world and make the most of the opportunity there. It doesn’t get more exciting than that.


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