The Kolbenneblok and the Little Magic Pot

A sensory story

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We've created this sensory story about a magical vessel, inspired by Kolbenneblok,1989, a sculpture by Tony Cragg.

1. Collect these objects from around the house together:

  • Metal spoon
  • Torch / mobile phone torch / fairy lights
  • A glass of water
  • spinning top / spinning a coin / or a wee spin around the room!
  • glass cup, leather shoe, copper penny
  • Small bowl and wooden spoon

2. When you're reading the story, ask your little one to pull out the object that they think is most relevant to the story when you see these signs.

3. When you’ve read the story, why not make your own magical potion out of things you find around the home?

Leaves, bubblebath, ice-cubes and ribbons are examples of things that make excellent 'magical' ingredients!

Tony Cragg Kolbenneblok 1989 © DACS, London 2023

Poppy looked at the strange metal vessel in front of her.


Out of all the things she could see in the garden around her, this caught her eye.


She liked its melty shape. It looked squishy in places, but it was made of cold, hard metal.

Poppy wished she was small enough to explore inside.


She leaned in closer and peeked into the vessel.


As she did, she saw a strange glowing light deep inside.

As she pulled back she heard a deep, echoey voice booming.


‘Do you want to go inside?’ Poppy looked around but couldn’t see anyone.


Oh, wait... what was that?! ... There, in the grass before her was the smallest man she had ever seen.


She rubbed her eyes and looked again.


‘Who are you?’ she asked.


The tiny man smiled, ‘I’m the keeper of the Kolbenneblok - that’s the name of this magical vessel.


Do you want to go inside?


If you drink this, it will shrink you to my size and we can go and explore - it’s full of magic!’

Poppy wasn’t sure if she wanted to go inside the pot.


She had never been inside a pot before!


But she was very curious, and she was feeling brave, so she took a drink of the potion.

She felt dizzy, and the trees spun around her.


She closed her eyes tightly and eventually the spinning stopped.


She opened her eyes, she found herself side by side with the tiny man, now small enough to enter the strange vessel.

Together they lit a lantern and made their way through the curved walls and passages, twisting and turning until they came to a large cave.


They were in the main body of the pot.

Vessels, vases, pots and pans of every shape, form and colour hung from the walls.


Some were made of clay, some of bronze, silver, gold, wood, leather and glass.


Poppy was amazed.

‘All of these pots have a story to tell’, the man said.


As he spoke Poppy remembered her granny telling her a story about a magic porridge pot.


As she began to remember it, the story came to life in front of her eyes...

She could hear her granny’s voice, ‘It was a sunny morning and Poppy went for a stroll in the woods.


She met an old lady carrying some wood home for her fire.


Poppy helped her to carry the wood.


In return the kind old lady gave Poppy a pot.’

‘I’m giving you this magic pot so you will never be hungry again.


If you say the words cook, little pot, cook, it will give you steaming hot creamy porridge.


Once you have eaten enough say, stop little pot, stop and the pot will stop.’

When she got home, Poppy showed her mother the little pot.


Together they watched as Poppy said the magic words, ‘Cook little pot, cook'.

The little pot shook and shook until it was brimming with hot, sweet porridge.


‘Stop little pot, stop’, said Poppy just as the old lady had told her to, and the little pot stopped.


Poppy and her mum enjoyed the thick creamy porridge.

Several days later, Poppy went out and her mum began to feel hungry.


She took out the little pot and sat it on the table.


‘Cook little pot, cook’, she said, and the pot was filled with hot sweet porridge once more... but she couldn’t remember how to get the pot to stop making porridge...


Porridge continued to flow out of the magic pot.


It poured out of the pot onto the table and onto the floor; out of the door into the rooms, down the lane and all over the town until there was porridge everywhere!

Poppy was returning home when she came across a river of porridge flowing through the town!


‘Stop little pot, STOP!’ she yelled at the top of her voice whilst avoiding the river of porridge!

The pot stopped cooking immediately and as her wheels hit the ground, she was relieved to discover that she was her normal size again and she was back in the grassy grounds of the gallery, no porridge in sight!

Poppy shouted ‘thank-you!’ to the tiny man as he disappeared back into the Kolbenneblok and she knew that she would never think that a pot was just a pot, ever again.

The end.

Stories adapted by Maureen Phillip, Pamis with the Learning & Engagement department, National Galleries Scotland

Illustrated by Caitlin Bowbeer