Make books an integral part of your child’s life by not only reading books to and with him/her, but using the books as a ‘jumping off’ point to a whole range of other activities. Through these activities you can help your child practice a range of literary skills, nurturing a deeper understanding of words, characters and themes, and develop your child’s love of books while having fun.
Re-enacting a story helps children develop a deeper understanding of the characters and sequence of the key events of the story and an opportunity to explore the underlying themes. The re-enactments can be a simple retelling of the story or it could be a modification of the story (e.g., from one particular character’s perspective, changing the traits of the characters, having a different outcome or solution to a problem, etc.). Ideas for re-enactments:
- Use ‘puppets’. The ‘puppets’ could be dolls or toys from the child’s toy box, puppets made from paper bags or cut outs placed on a stick. A puppet theatre can be made from a large box or simply place a sheet over a table.
- Act out the story with friends or siblings. Children can role play the story just for fun or they can practised and then performed the play for other family members.
- Create a video of the story. It could simply be the child retelling the story or it could a movie-like video using people or toys for characters or it could be a series of photos.
Turn the story into a game and make . Ideas for games are limited only by your imagination:
- Think how you can modify existing games to reflect the characters and events in a particular story. For example, ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’ (http://www.kidspot.com.au/things-to-do/activities/whats-the-time-mr-wolf ) can be changed to reflect ‘Little Red Ridinghood’ story. The child chosen as the ‘wolf’ is given a shawl to look like ‘granny’. Instead of saying, “What’s the time Mr Wolf’ the children say lines from the story (e.g., What big eyes you have Grandma). Instead of the ‘wolf’ saying a time the child responds with the appropriate line from the story (e.g., All the better to see you with). When the children say, “What big teeth you have Grandma,” the ‘wolf’ tries to catch a child who then becomes the ‘wolf’. Children can create other statements and responses (e.g., What hairy arms you have Grandma – all the better to keep you warm).
- Older children can make a board game. For example, it could be like Snakes and Ladders. Negative and positive or true and false statements related to the story can be written in some of the squares and have either a snake or ladder attached to that square.
- Set up a treasure hunt in which the children have to find different items mentioned in the story or items which could be used to represent different events in the story. For example in ‘Little Red Ridinghood’ children could find a leaf to represent the forest, something red to represent Little Red Ridinghood, some glasses to represent Grandma, etc.
- At the shops ask your child look for presents that you would be suitable for a particular character and discuss why it would be a good present.
- Play memory games in which each person builds a more and more detailed picture of a character, an event in the story or the actual sequence of a story. For example:
A: Little Red Ridinghood was eight years old.
B: Little Red Ridinghood was eight years old and had long hair.
A: Little Red Ridinghood was eight years old and had long, brown hair.
B: Little Red Ridinghood was eight years old, had long, brown hair and was wearing jeans.
- Set up an obstacle course where each obstacles represent a different event in the story.
Activities associated with the story
Every book lends itself to a range of activities that are associated with the story from cooking to making to visiting. Just a few suggestions:
- Make gingerbread men after reading the ‘Gingerbread Man’ story.
- Make a basket of goodies to give to your child’s own Grandma after reading ‘Little Red Ridinghood’.
- Plant some vegetables after reading ‘The Little Red Hen’ or ‘The Enormous Turnip’.
- Buy a cheap recorder and teach your child how to play a simple tune after reading the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’.
- Make your own secret garden in a corner of your yard after you read ‘The Secret Garden’.
- Visit the places mentioned in the story – a police station, a hospital, a farm – and compare and contrast the appearance of the place you visited to how it is described in the book.
- Make a collage of one of the scenes in the book.
Books are a great starting place to encourage children to write. In previous blogs I have discussed ideas for using books to write stories. However, writing can encompass a whole range of activities:
- Create an advert to sell or to encourage other children to read the book.
- Write a letter to a friend or family member telling them about the book. Remember to mention favourite sections of the books and thoughts on the different characters.
- Photocopy a page from a book (preferably enlarged). Help your child cut up the words and then use these words to create new sentences.
- Change the story into a poem or a song. This is a great activity for determining the key ideas.