So, this past Tuesday, three of C and H’s friends came round and we had a fun-filled morning of activities based around ‘Winnie the Witch’. I had hoped to take some photos of everything that we did, but unfortunately keeping three three year-olds and two one year-olds amused and engaged with each task meant that I didn’t have much time to take many shots! The ones I did take were all rather blurred and therefore perhaps not great for posting on here – it was a very fast-moving session 🙂
Because I knew that C and H, at least, had read Winnie the Witch’ before, I didn’t want to just go straight into reading the story, but chose to try and grab their interest in a different way first. Therefore, we did a treasure hunt. The one year-olds required a bit of help with his, but the three year-olds absolutely loved it and whizzed off on their own. Here’s how we did it:
– Each child had a sheet with all the different colours written on it in the appropriate colour (i.e., ‘red’ was written in red and so on) so that the older children (who are starting to recognise a few words) could make their own links whilst still being able to complete the hunt independently.
– We were hoping to do the treasure hunt outside, but the good old rain wasn’t playing our game, so we stayed inside instead. We did a practice run before we got going properly and I explained to the group that they had to collect as many things as possible that matched the colours on their checklists.
– The children could give themselves a tick (or more accurately, wobbly line) next to each colour once they had found at least one thing that matched it.
– They then flew off and were kept entertained for quite some time as they searched out as many colourful objects as they could. They found it especially amusing when they themselves ‘counted’ as an object and took great pleasure in shouting out that C was their yellow thing, L was their purple thing, etc! Very cute 🙂
– Once they’d all finished, we sat down and chatted about all the things we’d found and which one was our favourite. We talked about how it might feel to live in a house that had no colours in it at all (they all thought this would be very sad and quite boring and C said it would make him feel lonely). This led into us reading the book.
The children sat on cushions on the floor (though the one year-olds did a fair amount of wandering around) and we read through the story, with lots of questions and ideas from the children as we went along. Before we’d started, each child had selected a felt-tip of their favourite colour to use as a magic wand, so every time Winnie casts a spell in the story, the children all stood up and tapped the book with their wand and shouted ‘ABRACADABRA’! They were also very concerned about Wilbur’s feelings because he didn’t have any choice in what colour he was, so they felt pleased when he was retuned to his original state at the end.
Casting our own spells
Later on, we talked about what we’d do if we could create our own magic spells, then used our magic wands to try and cast these spells. C currently LOVES making up nonsense words, so he relished this task, despite being somewhat disappointed that he wasn’t able to fill our house with chocolate and sweets as per his magical commands…
We got out a huge wallpaper roll and the children all drew to their heart’s content in as many colours as possible. Once they’d seen how many colours were used in the story, they were excited about finding all those colours (and more) to add to their artwork. They seemed to really enjoy collaborating on a joint piece of art as well, which I had previously thought they might struggle with a bit. They thought that Winnie might like to frame their masterpiece for her colourful house and I have to say, I agree with them.
Cooking and music
I had planned a couple more activities, but naps, lunching and general exhaustion got in the way, so we’ll have to save them for another time!
I had got lots of different coloured cupcake cases and some food colouring and hundreds and thousands and at some point we’ll make some very colourful fairy cakes so that we can invite Winnie and Wilbur over for a tea party.
I am also really keen to try this activity from the Crafty Crow – making a colourful xylophone with cups of water and food colouring (I’m clearly a glutton for punishment aiming to use food colouring twice with toddlers!) – and had thought it would fit nicely with our Winnie activities, but will just have to save it for another time.
So, that was our day. Although it was pretty hectic (which I think was mainly down to trying to get one year-olds and three year-olds doing the same activities – something I couldn’t really avoid) all the children seemed to enjoy it and I certainly had fun. C’s friend J hadn’t read the book before and went away telling his mum how fun it was and how he’d like to read the story again. This is exactly what I had hoped would happen and, with a LOT more planning and organisation, is how I’d hope that Story Seekers would make children respond as well.
So, I’ll definitely be doing more of these informal sessions with C and H’s friends, as well as the storytelling sessions in the Oxfam bookshop in the autumn. I love it when a plan (very slowly and with a considerable amount of mess and) comes together 🙂