Wooden crates and shelves can be so versatile. Particularly, Crates are ideal for storage and pack away settings – where they can be stacked on shelves. Stacked on their sides, crates make amazingly inviting self select Story shelves or ‘Shelfies’. Listed below are our best crate Shelfie ideas for children to give you some inspiration for using them in your setting.

Library Crates

Create your own library corner or wall with classic wooden crates. Each genre or theme can have its own crate. These are not fixed so can be arranged to fit the limitations of your area. If you want to go tall, cable tie them together and drill to a wall.


Story Shelf Crates

Create a cosy reading corner with beanbags and cushions, with a crate story shelfie filled with provocations and props to retell a story together.

Why not take your story in a crate outside.

Self Select themed shelfie crates

Create a themed shelfie with lots of exciting items to encourage self selection and learning through play. You could have a natural theme, with items that you have found on a walk displayed, along with books about nature, or theme your shelfie to correspond to a particular topic that you are covering that week.

Curriculum focused shelfie crates – Maths, Literacy, Phonics

Add Maths resources such a Number line, ten frames and counters to encourage children to recognise and learn numbers. Basic maths skills counting to ten. Add books for children to read and include clipboards for them to record their skills.

Themed Shelfie crates – pirates, dinosaurs, animals, Farm, Colour

Along with Story Shelfies, these are our favourites! Create a shelfie for Dinosaurs – adding leaves and stones and a book to go with them. Have a Pirate theme with treasure maps to make and buried treasure to find. Create a farm themed shelfie with animals and their babies for children to learn about.

Small World Shelfie Crates

Create small worlds in your crate shelfie with Kings, Princesses and castles. Include all the parts necessary for children to use their imagination and create their own story.

Loose Part Play Shelfie Crate

Create an exciting invitation to play and learn by filling crates with lots of loose parts. From natural items to construction blocks. What can children create? Take your crates outdoors and allow children to explore the shelves.

Traditional, rustic fruit boxes or apple crates make a natural alternative to plastic crates for loose parts play. Just beware of your colleagues borrowing them for their country style kitchen makeovers!

Curiosity Crate Shelfie

Fill crate shelves with items that will spark your children's curiosity. It could be junk shop finds, marvellous shiny metallics, old costume jewellery, vintage crockery from charity shops. Get children asking thoughtful questions on what curious items are on the shelves.

Dolls House Shelfie Crates

Have fun with these 4 loose crates and make many different combinations of houses - go back to back, large tall Victorian or semi-detached. Makes for a very affordable dolls house. Drill and fix to the wall for higher learning. We love these triangular crates as roof space!

Other Crate uses:

Transport – add wheels, a steering wheel and off you go!

Crates can also be used to create vehicles and transport of any description – only limited by the imagination! Children can turn a crate into a rocket, car, spaceship, pirate boat – just add mini tyres, steering wheels and a mast (broom handle!) for a pirate flag! If you want to offer open-ended opportunities to construct and investigate shape, space and measure then wooden wheels offer an excellent opportunity for adding to your setting. The ideas are endless.

Mini Mud Kitchen

Crates can also be upturned and made into a mini mud kitchen set up. Add tops with hob rings on – add pots and pans and you are away!

Storage Shelving crates

Use your crates to store items in your shed. Use baskets within them create additional separated storage.

Crates with shelves in make a quick storage system whereever you need it.

Mix up the environment with crates that provide shelving. Dot them around the room or arrange in a configuration to suit.

These storage crates with castors are ideal for packaway settings and quick and easy to tidy away and move around your setting. Use to enhance any small world, construction, or reading area. Use with small baskets and fill with props to engage.


Upturned crates can be used for seating – create a semi circle for storytime.

Obstacle courses

H Crates make great obstacles – add planks for a walk the plank style challenge.

With thanks to The Cosy Creatives for this blog post and our Cosy Club Members for their input.

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