“The Gruffalo’s child” by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Gruffalo coverI thought since I’d done The Gruffalo, that it’d be nice to do the sequel too. The Gruffalo’s child is set in winter, so the obvious thing to do is snow play. Now, if it happens to be snowing for you, great, wrap up warm, go outside and do this, but if like me there is no sign of real snow, you’ll have to improvise.

Now, in the past I’ve used cotton wool as a fun, no mess “snow” but it’s not terribly realistic, and won’t work for what I have planned as we need to make impressions in the snow. So, you can buy fake snow online, or make your own, now here I planned to link to an online recipe, as I’m sure I’ve seen many, but my internet isn’t working, so I’m writing this offline, and I need to have the snow ready for when I pick up Jumbles from preschool, so I’m just going to have to wing it, so here is my snow recipe:

wpid-2015-02-12-10.46.04.jpg.jpegSnow Recipe:
1. Leave freezer door slightly ajar overnight.
2. Come down in the morning to discover said door is open.
2a. (Optional) blame other half for not closing door properly.
3. Cook, throw out, or deem salvagable contents of freezer.
4. Scrape ice with a knife into a containter.
5. Freeze until needed
Estimated cost: 0-£1000 depending on how much food you have to throw away and whether you damage the freezer whilst scraping off the ice. Plus potential marriage counselling costs for repeated blame of other half for incidents such as this.

gruffalochild 001Alternatively, you could probably make ice cubes, and stick them in a blender. Or, if you don’t want to be quite so realistic and don’t want something that will melt, you can make snow by adding water to the stuff you find in disposable nappies (U.S diapers) see instructions (external link) I am not so keen on this method as although it’s non toxic, it’s still not edible, and Bean will try to eat it. Plus, I only use disposable nappies in emergencies, so don’t have many in stock.

Now I’m back online, I have checked and a fun way to make snow looks like mixing cornflour (U.S cornstarch) and shaving foam. Growing a Jeweled Rose.com has several snow recipes.

Activity:gruffalochild 012
Part 1: snow play
Set up your snow in a tray on the floor.
Read through the book, pointing out the footprints and how each animal’s is different.
Allow free play with the snow.
Experiment making marks in the snow using different implements and toys.
While your child looks away, take a toy and make tracks in the snow, see if s/he can work out what toy made the tracks. take it in turns with your child to make tracks for the other to guess.
Jumbles played around making roads and trying to write letters, whilst Bean scooped it up lots.

Part 2: Light and Shadow
We left a big gap and did this when it was getting darker.
Point out the end of the story, where the Gruffalo’s child is fooled by the mouse’s shadow, talk about how shadows of objects can look different.gruffalochild 023
Close the curtains, turn off the lights and play with torches, making shadows using hands and objects. If you want, set up a sheet which you can go behind to make shadows and have the child guess what it is. We draped a sheet over the doorway of our cardboard house, my Godson, also 3, had come over by this point, the boys enjoyed playing with torches, then they went into the house and I held up toys outside in front of the torch for them to guess. Bean was not impressed with this section of the activity. (I had to turn the lights on for the photo).

Buy artificial snow
Make snow using disposable nappies
Growing a Jeweled Rose snow recipes
Buy The Gruffalo’s child
Borrow The Gruffalo’s child from your local library


“The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

gruffaloThere are so many amazing books to choose from, I wasn’t sure where to start. So I’ve gone with a request, for something everyone has: The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. A fantastic book for reading aloud and acting out.

This book really lends itself to sensory play. I thought we’d do a barefoot walk. Now, I am doing this in the winter, and don’t fancy letting them freeze in the local stream at this time of year, so I brought the woods to our garden, but it would be much more fun to do this out in the wild, if you have woods with a stream and rocky area, then plan out your own walk, but if likeJan2015 265 me, you’re needing some indoor activities, read on:Jan2015 262

First, take the kids out for a walk somewhere where you can collect lots of sticks and stones, despite living in the middle of a city, we were able to do this fairly easily.

I am fortunate and have a carport so that we can do messy play out there, if you don’t, cover your floor as it will get messy:

Set up a trail across the room, with different stations, I like to use underbed storage boxes, they can be closed up or stacked when not in use, plus they clean really easily:

Jan2015 267

1. The deep dark woods – fill a box with, or just place on the ground the twigs/leaves/pinecones, collected on your walk
2. Rocks – fill a box, or just an area with rocks and pebbles
3. Stream – use a silver emergency blanket to represent the stream, weigh it down with small stones. If you’re in the UK, poundland sell twin packs of these in their camping section, I would highly recommend buying a pack. If you don’t have any, use foil or some blue material.
4. Lake – a paddling pool, or box of water, or, if you have nowhere suitable for water play, end the trail at your bathroom.

Make a path from one station to the next, perhaps vary the materials of the path to give variety for walking on. If you’re spreading the trail across a long distance e.g through the house to end at your bath, consider making some paper arrows, or footprints to follow.

Suggestions for the path:
Jan2015 264Sand
Astroturf (get free samples online if you’re cheeky enough)
Greengrocers material (buy on ebay)
Mud or compost
grass cuttings
bark chippings

Optional extras to improve the experience:
Jan2015 271Print off and colour in animal masks for the characters in the story, tape these to sticks and prop them by the correct part of the trail (fox by rocks etc) then children can hold masks to act out story if they wish. Or make finger puppets, the official Gruffalo site has a Gruffalo mask, finger puppets to print and other activities.

Depending on their age, children may enjoy helping to set up the trail.Jan2015 274

Running the activity:
Tell the story once through before starting, pointing at the different areas where the mouse meets the animals. Then retell, or have the children retell, the story slowly as they move through the trail. Don’t rush them, they may want to explore one station for ages, talk about the way the different materials feel.

Keep towels nearby and once they’ve finished exploring, use the lake to wash hands and feet.


Gruffalo.com printable activities includes mask, finger puppets, recipe.
Colouring sheets
Borrow The Gruffalo from your local library
Buy The Gruffalo online