When is reading a book, more than reading a book?

I got to pop in to Kinderling Radio and have another chat with Shevonne Hunt this week. This time were were chatting about how art can play an important role in extending learning when reading books with our kids. Parents can get active and crafty at home in developing story extension activities with a few tips.

Listen for the podcast or read my blog post below.



Why are Story Extension Activities valuable?


It is easy to dismiss art extension activities for children’s books as a messy infringement on your home, all those pipe cleaners and icy-pole sticks getting stuffed down the couch and clogging up the vacuum cleaner!

However there is a reason why our wonderful teachers make them apart of our children’s everyday learning.

Children's stories in themselves are great teaching tools. That learning, however, can be greatly expanded and reinforced when you add story extension activities. The type of extension activities you engage in with children is limited only by your imagination.

Story art extension activities are valuable learning tools because they:

·         expand concepts presented in the story

·         extend on a theme

·         build children's experiences through exploration and participation

·         deepen children's knowledge and expand their skills

·         allow children to explore ideas and try problem solving ideas.

·         provide a link between the story and real life. They aid in making the story come to life and have meaning in reality.

In reality, extension activities are extremely valuable as they promote children's learning through fun! What could be better than learning when you're enjoying yourself!

But don’t be afraid to give this a go yourself. Developing extension activities is easier than you thought. But be warned - you'll never view a book as just a story again!

Story Extension Activities Expand Different Interests and Skills.

There are no hard and fast rules as to what sort of extension activities you can plan from a children's story. Often, it's easy to create activities which cover a wide variety of subjects. Look at the elements of the story and the images. Make a list of those themes, characters or scenes you think can be easily translated with simple art activities that your child may be interested in. Do not make this overly complicated; this is supposed to be a fun activity for you and your child. Be guided by what your child already likes to do (draw, paint, glue, cut, write).

What books do I choose?

Pick a favourite book you and your child both like. This will help to inspire you to draw out some ideas.

Let’s look at an example.

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak is my favourite childhood picture book. It’s themes of imagination, showing your inner ‘wild thing’, there’s no place like home, unconditional love and not judging someone by their looks (and many others), can be gently explored with a range of activities.

·         Create a map that shows the voyage from Max’s bedroom to the land of the wild things creating a spacial sense of how far from home Max went on his adventure.

·         Cut out a Max crown from cardboard and sprinkle it with gold glitter and see how ‘Max’ you can be, (oh okay so I may have lost you at glitter).

·         Make a wild thing mask either using the characters in the book or come up with your own wild thing. Give your wild thing a name and describe their characteristics.

·         Build Max’s boat. Using the bottom of a margarine container, add a skewer for the mast and paper for the sails. Will your boat float in the bathtub?

·         Create wild thing puppets out of cardboard and icy pole sticks. Use the puppets to re-tell the story.

What do you need in an art kit?

I literally have to hide my art kit high on a shelf so my 11 year old does not pillage from it, but it has everything I need when I am wanting to work out a new art activity for my books, ‘I Love you 5 Lollipops’ and ‘Elizabeth Rose on Parade’. Being set in the circus there are lots of fun ideas I can come up with, and my youngest is always on hand to help test them out. 

Don’t go spending a lot of money but if you have a few of the staples you will always be able to combat a rainy afternoon or restless ‘wild thing’ with your own extension activities.

·         Icy-pole sticks (a must have and the coloured ones can save you a heap of time)

·         Paper plates (rather than plastic so you can draw and paint on them)

·         Cupcake wrappers (stretch them out flat for all sort of great circular shapes for heads, bodies, flowers, planets)

·         String (you need to hang this masterpieces for at least a week.

·         Glue

·         Sticky tape

·         Stapler (may be you control this one)

·         Scissors

·         Coloured paper

·         Pencils/markers

·         Paint/brushes

·         Cardboard

·         Empty containers from around the house.

Have a go, your kids are not going to judge you (that comes when they are teenagers). Have you come up with your own art extension activities? What have you and your kids loved making?