Written by: Jenn
Everyone hits creative roadblocks once in a while. This includes parents and teachers. It can be difficult to come up with ideas that will engage children that do not include screens and that will also promote their development. Now, what if I told you that you potentially have a treasure trove of inspiration right in your home or classroom? If you have a bookshelf or even just a handful of books that your child or children love, you have gold. Each storybook holds more than a magical world of characters. Let the books inspire hands-on activities! And don’t worry if you don’t have time to run to the store, most of the activities can be done with items found around the house or classroom.
There are so many benefits for creating activities based on children’s books. The first being, every activity is literacy based. Studies have shown that literacy promotion allows children to build language, develop social-emotional skills and creates the foundation for critical thinking skills. Not to mention that it makes reading fun!
I am going to share some of my favorite book inspired activities. These are things that I have done in real life, so I can confidently say that they work. I want to preface this by saying, I only create projects based on storybooks that the children are super into. If the kiddos are not digging the story, it will be more difficult to get them engaged.
Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. Children love boxes. Don’t believe me, pull up some YouTube videos. This adorable picture book follows a small bunny who discovers that a box is just a box unless…..its not a box. Through the power of imagination the box becomes a mountain, a rocket and even a hot air balloon. This project is easy. Read the book, grab a box, throw on your imagination hat and go on an adventure! The possibilities are limitless. Children can physically decorate the box and turn it into something different. This can lead to hours of imaginative play.
Emeraldalicious by Victoria Kann. I have been a long time fan of Victoria Kann and the Pinkalicious series. Many if not all of the books in the series will give you plenty of ideas. The focus of Emeraldalicious is conservation. Pinkalicious and her brother Peter are playing outdoors when they stumble upon a magic wand and discover their favorite park is covered in trash. Magic helps them turn the trash into treasures. After reading this book, hunt around your home for recycled materials that can be made into art, dress up clothes, furniture or even a castle!
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. In this 1989 classic, three white mice have some fun dashing through paint colors and discovering what happens when colors get mixed together. This colorful and fun picture book teaches children how colors are made. There are so many activities you can do that involve color mixing. All you need are the primary colors: red, blue, yellow. Mix them together two at a time, for example, red and blue; blue and yellow; yellow and red. What can your little ones make with those colors? If your littles like to be super hands on, find a cardboard box lid or a large surface they can paint in and let them use their hands to mix the colors together.
The Listening Walk by Paul Showers. A little girl and her father decide to take a walk around their neighborhood. The story illustrates the everyday noises from the sounds of the animals and vehicles to the distinct sound of different shoes on the pavement. Find a spot to read this book outside if you can and then set off on your own listening walk. If you are doing this with a class, I highly recommend taking children in a small group. This will give them the chance to tell you what they hear. Take a notepad to write down what you hear and find words to describe the sound.
I could almost write forever about these projects! Books make everything possible and are an endless source of ideas and inspiration. Try out some of the above activities or come up with your own from your favorite books. We would love to hear about your favorite book inspired projects!