Sometimes a book can be a starting point for fun family activities and learning. Try some of these simple ideas to extend the fun of your child's favourite story:
- Act out the story using props such as puppets and soft toys.
- Expand your child's vocabulary by talking about what has happened in the story (for example, if the character was wearing a red jumper, say if it was soft or scratchy).
- Help your child understand emotions by talking about things that happened in the story that made the characters happy, sad, angry, excited or scared.
Have fun reading outdoors
Children love to share books outdoors. In partnership with Country Parks we’ve put together some of our favourite activities you can share with your child indoors or outdoors.
These fun activities all explore nature and the world outside. They will help you bring the outside in! You can share a book together first before trying one of these activities, which will help you explore the story further and inspire your child’s imagination. Any book or story with the theme of outdoors, nature, bugs, animals, the countryside, weather or picnics would be perfect.
Have a look together around your garden or out on walks for items you can collect and use; like sticks, stones, seeds and leaves. Alternatively, you could use pictures from old magazines and newspapers or items from your kitchen cupboards.
When you are outside talk about what you see. Can you spot any birds, creatures, bugs or insects moving around? Encourage your child with your help to touch and explore the different textures of the world around them. Get ideas for talking to younger children when out and about or around your home from Talk Listen Cuddle.
• Create your own bugs by painting stones.
You could paint them red with black spots to make ladybirds or invent your own special family bug. Have fun making up names for your painted bugs.
• Make animals from the things you find.
You could make a snake from sticks, a hedgehog from pinecones or a butterfly from large leaves.
• Create a picture with the things you find.
Lay the things you’ve found out on a path, on grass, on an outside table or inside a cardboard box. You could glue them down inside the box or onto a piece of card and decorate them with glitter.
• Create a family tree.
Peel off the bark at one end from sticks you have collected (using a vegetable peeler is best – and you could do this bit for your child). Your child can draw a face onto the bare wood with a felt tip pen. They can make twig people for all your family. Why not tie the sticks together with wool and hang in a special place.
• Make photo frames by gluing sticks to a piece of card.
• Create a nature collage.
You can make one without making a mess by using clear sticky back plastic/self-adhesive instead of glue. Cut a square and peel off the backing. Your child can then place their collage items onto the sticky side of the film. Cover their artwork with a backing (you could use the original backing paper, another piece of paper or another piece of clear sticky back plastic) and press firmly.
• Make your own tactile book or scrapbook.
Fold a few sheets of thick paper in half to create a book. Coloured paper works well. You may want to pierce two holes in the fold for your child to thread a length of string or wool through to tie them together. Talk about what you have seen outside and write and draw about them in your book. If you collected items while you were out together you can glue them into your book as you talk about them.
• Create a seed picture.
Help your child collect seeds of all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours; like rice, beans, bird seed, corn kernels, and sunflower seeds. Next your child draws a picture on a piece of card. Once they have finished their drawing help them squeeze some glue onto a part of the picture and then place seeds on the glue. They can cover the entire image with seeds or make their own abstract patterns and designs.
• Plan for a rainy day and have fun making a rain gauge.
All you will need is an empty plastic bottle. Cut around the top of the bottle – about 5cm down from the top. Then your child can turn the top upside down and push it back into the bottle to create a funnel. Next, use a ruler and make marks on the bottle using a permanent marker. Starting from the bottom of the bottle, make a mark every 5cm – so at 5cm, 10cm, 15cm etc.
Take the rain gauge outside and wedge it upright against something so it can’t fall over. Leave it for a rainy day and find out together how much rain has fallen. If there are lots of rainy days, you could draw a chart and keep a record of the amount of rain fallen.
• Plan a garden picnic if the weather is nice or an indoor picnic if it’s not!
Your child could help with the menu and prepare the food. Or, you could make your ideal picnic from modelling clay and have a make-believe picnic. Why not invite your teddy to join in?
• Make your own modelling clay. It’s easy!
This recipe makes wonderful modelling clay which lasts for ages in little plastic sandwich bags.
1/2 cup of salt
1 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
1 tablespoon of oil
1 cup of boiling water (from the kettle) mixed with some food colouring
Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and then mix vigorously with the hot water. Once cool have fun creating lots of different shapes. Why not make different types of pretend food.
• Try our Acorn Cookie recipe.
Home baked cookies are always fun to make together and are great for picnics or snacks.
175g/6oz Plain Flour
100g/4oz Butter or Margarine
50g/2oz Caster Sugar
Pre-heat oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2
Cream the butter/margarine and caster sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Stir in the flour and once mixed, knead the dough together until it forms a ball, add a sprinkle of flour if the dough is at all sticky.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 5mm thick. Cut out the dough using an oval cutter or template. Sprinkle the bottom half of the biscuits with chocolate sprinkles so it looks like an acorn.
Bake on a floured baking tray in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire tray before eating. Enjoy!
Have fun reading online
Explore the world of children's books, with a range of fun online activities that will inspire your child with a love of books and reading:
- BookTrust Home Time - books and videos, games and quizzes
- Nosy Crow - free books, storytimes, and other activities
- Penguin - articles, games and activities
- Puffin Schools - ideas to spark imaginations at home
- Usborne - play and learn at home
- Walker - activities for home and school
- World Book Day - stay at home ideas and free resources