Playground, by Mies van Hout (Lemniscaat USA, 2015)

Playground coverWhat the book’s about

In Playground, readers are invited to join two friends and a growing parade of characters on their way to the playground, running through dunes, climbing trees, crossing rivers—even jumping from cloud to cloud! As readers trace their fingers through the mazes on each spread, they find that while the destination is fun, the journey is even better! Action words, whimsical illustrations, and plenty of opportunities for individual and group interactive reading make this a fun adventure for readers ages 3-8.

Eight Activities for ages 4 and up, by Jessica Young

 

Activity One: Amazing Maze (ages 6 – 8)

Amazing Mazes

Kids make their own mazes and partner up to try them out.

Supplies

  • Large drawing paper
  • Pencils
  • Markers or crayons

Activity

After reading the book, create original mazes by drawing a curvy line, then adding other lines that branch in different directions from it. Create pathways by drawing a parallel line beside each one. Discuss and question what features could be added to the maze (a waterfall, trees, a bridge, etc.) and draw them in (or ask volunteers to draw them in).

After kids  draw their own individual mazes, invite them to partner up, exchange papers, and trace their fingers through their partner’s maze.

Activity Two: My Name is a Playground (ages 5-8)

My Name is a Playground

Kids turn their names into playground drawings.

Supplies

  • Drawing paper
  • Markers or crayons

Activity

After reading the book, discuss what features can be found on a playground (swings, slides, monkey bars, ladders, tunnels, rock walls, bridges, etc.). Write the list of features on the board or on a piece of paper. Ask for a volunteer to write his/her own name on the board in BIG, capital letters (or you can write it). Demonstrate making one of the letters into a playground feature using a different colored marker, for example, one of the diagonal lines in an “A” could become a slide, or swings could hang from the horizontal line. Ask for suggestions for turning the other letters into playground features, or have volunteers come up and do it. You can even add tiny people playing on the “playground” name when it’s done.

Pass out paper so kids can create their own “name playgrounds” by writing their first names in large capital letters and turning them into playgrounds. Remind them to try to include their favorite playground equipment and use lots of fun colors.

Activity Three: Getting There is Half the Fun! (ages 4-8)

Kids discuss and draw memories of fun trips or errands.

Supplies

  • Large drawing paper
  • Markers or crayons

Activity

Read the book and discuss how the characters’ whole world is a playground, as they have so much fun and do so many different things on their journey. Ask kids to recall trips or errands they’ve been on that were fun. Ask them to draw a picture that shows what they did along the way.

Extension: If the group has taken a recent field trip together, use a large space, such as a whiteboard or the playground hardtop, to create a group mural of the places they saw along the way that looked like they’d be fun to climb, hang from, or otherwise use as a playground.

Activity Four: Come With Me!  (ages 7 and up)

Kids make up their own journey stories using action words, and positional and directional words and phrases.

Supplies

  • Lined paper
  • Pencils

Activity

Ask kids to make up their own stories about going on a journey. Write some sample action, positional, and directional words on the board for them to use. You can also write the following prompt: “Come with me! I’m going to ____________. First, let’s __________.” Demonstrate using some of the words below as part of a story about a journey. Invite them to share their stories when finished.

Action words: run, hop, skip, jump, crawl, creep, tiptoe, slide, climb, slither, squeeze

Positional and directional words/phrases: turn, up, down, right, left, inside, under, above, over, behind, in front of, near, next to, on, between, towards, away from, through

Activity Five: That Sounds Like Fun! (ages 5 and up)

Kids experiment with onomatopoeia, using sound words to go with actions in the book—or in their own stories.

Supplies

  • Lined paper
  • Pencils or pens

Activity

Explain that “onomatopoeia” is a very long word for “sound” words—words that sound like the object or action that makes them. Discuss how including sound words in a story can make it fun to read and help readers imagine what’s happening in the story.

Write a list of common sound words on the board. Ask kids to see how many they can add: buzz, beep, hum, whoosh, bam, boom, bump, kapow, squish, squeak, pop, hiss

Ask kids to try using several sound words with different actions from the story, or other actions they name beyond the book’s. How would it sound to slide quickly down a grassy hill? To jump from cloud to cloud? To tiptoe through mud? etc.

Activity Six: Packing Light (ages 5 and up)

Kids imagine adventures and decide on a limited packing list for their journeys.

Supplies

  • Drawing paper
  • Pencils
  • Markers or crayons

Activity

Read the book and discuss how the characters’ whole world was actually a playground, as they had so much fun and did so many different things on the way to their destination. Discuss the book as a group, guided by questions like these:

  1. If you could pack five things to take on a sailing adventure, what would they be?
  2. What would you pack on a hiking trip to a mountaintop?
  3. What about a journey across the desert?

Kids can follow up the discussion by drawing the items they’d bring for one of these adventures, making sure everything fits onto one side of a sheet of paper (their suitcase’s open lid).

Activity Seven: Playground Sculpture (ages 5 and up)

P1060142

Kids create a playground sculpture incorporating their favorite playground features.

Supplies

  • 8 ½ x 11 card stock or colored construction paper (pre-cut different lengths of thin strips if wanted)
  • Yarn
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Pencils
  • Kids’ scissors
  • Glue
  • Cardboard (if wanted for base)

Activity

After reading the book, discuss different features of playgrounds (slides, swings, tunnels, ladders, monkey bars, etc.) and demonstrate using paper, pipe cleaners, and other objects to create a playground sculpture on a card stock or cardboard base.

Demonstrate folding a long, thin strip of card stock or construction paper back and forth (like making a paper fan) to form “stairs” that can be glued onto the base. Show how to make a “bridge” by folding two tabs at the ends of a long strip and then gluing the tabs to the base to form an arched bridge. Then fold the arch in two places to make a bridge with a flat top. Demonstrate gluing a segment of paper towel roll to form a “tunnel” or cutting one in half lengthwise to form a half-tunnel “slide.” Show how yarn or pipe cleaners can be used to make “swings.” Demonstrate how pipe cleaners can be wrapped tightly around a pencil then slid off the end to create spirals that can be used for “springs” on playground equipment or other embellishments.

Ask kids to use their imaginations and create playgrounds of their own.

Jumpstart: We’re Going to the Playground!

Make sure the group spreads out so each child has personal space to move in place. Read the book aloud, while kids listen for action words. Pause at each action word so kids can perform it before continuing on with the story. Ask children to act out the actions in place as you go. Some action words you might encounter: run, climb, walk, jump, slide, etc.

Note: This is a great rainy day way to get some exercise during story time!