Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ten Ways to Play with Children's Books (other than reading them!)

PhD in Parenting is currently hosting a Carnival of Play for the first half of April. Bloggers are invited to participate by posting their own thoughts on play and its role in parenting and/or childhood.

We certainly play often, but it took me awhile to figure out what I could say about that. As I mulled over the topic of the carnival, it occurred to me how often play can involve repurposing items -- using old measuring cups in the bathtub, playing drums on pots and pans, etc. Books are everywhere in our house - on shelves, off shelves, on the coffee table, the kitchen table, in the bottom of the stroller, my purse, on our bed, probably under our bed, etc. So, they tend to find their way into all kinds of play. In keeping with the theme of this blog, I decided it might be fun (and a bit silly - but isn't all good play a bit silly?) to come up with this list...

Ten Ways to Play With Children's Books (other than reading them!)

Arranged roughly by age of interest...
  1. Peek-a-boo (for our littlest readers). Hiding behind any item delights babies, and it still gets a giggle out of my son at 16 months.
  2. Tummy time target. I wasn't very diligent about "tummy time," but when I did it, I laid him down on a quilt with a favorite book propped open on the floor in front of him - usually a Nina Laden book with a mirror on the last page. It worked like a charm.
  3. Unpacking and packing. I've read a few blog posts about this, so I know I'm not alone. Anyone with a bookshelf and kids has witnessed the demolition of their lovingly arranged array of books. I've met the destruction with mixed emotions, from astonishment, to annoyance, to worry (that the shelf will come down - we're not big child proofers around here), to amusement. Lately, I tend toward amusement. As kid messes go, a bookshelf is pretty quick to pick up afterwards. We're lucky in that the arrangement of our furniture since we moved somehow puts most of our books outside of our little reader's sights, so it is mostly his own books he unpacks. We also bought the Safari Book Display
    pictured above around Christmas-time, and the beauty of that is that he enjoys not only unpacking, but also repacking the books into it as well! All I have to do is sit nearby and cheer him on, and he is delighted.
  4. Prepare companion crafts for your kids' favorite books. The blogging world abounds with parents who excel at this kind of thing, so if you look around, you'll get some wonderful ideas. Some of my favorites are No Time For Flashcards and the weekly Friday Book Project at Just For Fun.
  5. Hide and Seek /Hide and find the book. Self-explanatory.
  6. Build a book castle. I can't take credit for this idea, having read about it on Mother is Not Concerned's post for the Weekly Unplugged Project one week. Doesn't it look fun?
  7. House of books. Less ambitious than the book castle, use all of those old board books to create houses the way you do with decks of cards. They're much easier for small hands to maneuver.
  8. Slides. I don't advocate this one if you care about the longterm health of your books, but our little guy has taken to fashioning his own slides out of his oversized books lately (yes, I get the hint: take me back to the park!). I'm quite impressed with his ingenuity at 16 months. We currently have two propped up in our living room; Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever is up against an ottoman, and a large Animal Kingdom book is resting on a pile of foam alphabet letters for a more gentle slope.
  9. Acting. How about using simple books as a springboard for creating a play or just playing dress-up?
  10. Name that book. For older kids, try quoting lines from their book collections and having them guess the book.
Have another suggestion? Do your kids use books in any bizarre, fun ways? Comment and let us know about it!


Bookworm said...

Along the lines of acting...PUPPET SHOWS!

It's fascianting to see children that are read to put on puppet shows b/c they mix stories together and add in some of their own ideas! The creativity flows...a pure delight to watch.

Bookworm said...

After we read "Boomtown" by Nowen N. Particular, we had a night of fireworks! We also drew our own Boomtown Maps.

While we were reading "Homer Price", we visited Krispy Kreme Donuts b/c there was a chapter about the donut machine going haywire! (At Krispy Kreme you can view the entire donut making process.)

We planned to finish "The Tale of Despereaux" the day before the movie's release. (The movie was awful.)

I usually look for a coloring page for whatever book we're reading for my youngest son.

This is FUN! Thanks for letting me share!

Risa said...

Mine like to 'read' the book for themselves afterwards, often acting it out. My 6-year-old, who reads, sticks pretty faithfully to the text, but my 4-year-old routinely alters the story to suit his tastes. Just the other night he 'read' Mem Fox's _The Magic Hat_ to us, altering the storyline so that the people turned into animals by the hat stayed animals. Mine also like to do puppet shows, art projects, read books to their stuffed animals, and write their own stories using books we've read as inspiration. My oldest is working on a series he's entitled "Mesozoic Mysteries", about a dinosaur that travels through time and place to solve mysteries (loosely combining Magic Tree House, A to Z Mysteries, and the new Dinosaur Cove series, as far as I can figure).

Amber said...

These are great ideas! We've done the last one but when I quote a line, she runs and gets the book! I'm not very good about tummy time with our 7 month old. I'll have to give her a book to look at, or chew, whatever!

Thanks for visiting

MaryAnne said...

Fantastic post! My daughter makes up her own storylines for the books, and both kids love to play "I spy" games with books that aren't "I spy" books.

My husband rarely reads the words in our children's books, and when he does he can make even the best of books sound boring. What he's good at, though, is taking a book, ignoring the words that are written, and turning it into a wonderful story featuring our family as all of the main characters.

Quinn said...

We do alot of retelling of the story in our house. It works wonders for standing in long lines at stores. Most of the stories are classics. Fairytales are normally picked. Then we one of retells it we ask what happens next or mix up the story so that the kids can correct the story. It makes them think it out and they can verbally retell any story you ask now. It also helps while I am trying to do things around the house like laundry or dishes and want them to pay attention but not really help me.

caribookscoops said...

Love the list. My daughter (5) once used her books as stepping stones to get across the water (imaginary of course - thank goodness!). She had a lot of fun. She has also used them as snow shoes and slide with them across the floor.

The 13 month old is really good at emptying bookshelves and we have about 10 toddler books in the toy box that she loves to pull in and out, but her most favorite activity of late is throwing them down the stairs through the slats in the gate. They make wonderful noise according to her.

Infant Bibliophile said...

I love all of these ideas; thank you all for sharing!

Bookworm: I should read Boomtown; I keep reading about it, and I've never read it! Puppet shows are a fun idea too.

Risa: What a sign of a creative mind, altering the story, and at only 4. Maybe you have a future children's book author in your midst. :)

Amber: My son would definitely just go grab the book too at this point! I was really bad about tummy time, and he learned to crawl just fine (in fact, he loved crawling more than any baby I've seen - I thought he'd never walk!).

Mary Anne: I love doing ISpy type stuff with books too, and working on counting or colors or letter sounds, all with books not necessarily written for that purpose. I bet your kids get a kick out of your husband's book tales.

Quinn: Retelling the story sounds like a great idea for long lines!

Caribookscoops: LOVE the stepping stones story! It reminds me of when we used to pretend that the floor was lava at my grandmother's house and hop from bed to dresser to something "safe" on the floor, etc. I'm looking forward to reliving that stage of imaginary play when our son gets older.

Brimful Curiosities said...

My daughter has made winding paths out of them (like the stepping stone idea). We've also arranged and rearranged ours by size and color. We also like to play a children's song, like "We are the Dinosaurs" by Berkner and then try to find all the matching books (dinosaurs in this case) for the song theme. Instead of a slide, maybe your little guy would enjoy using them as a ramp for his cars or balls.

Britt said...

I LOVE that bookshelf! That is soooo cool.

We may need one-- for some reason a preschooler just has a really hard time putting books on a shelf the way an adult would. Go figure. That kind of shelf would be much easier.