The practical act of leaving the house is increasingly difficult what with changing bags, handbags, car seats, not to mention the children! We all know however, unless you bring something to entertain the children (if going for lunch or something) you might as well not bother going out at all! This adds another thing to do/remember/carry before you leave! I have therefore, decided I am going to create a series of activity suitcases that can be transported and stored easily. Also because of the ‘importance’ of the suitcase, the little one/s are more likely to carry it! The first in the series is ‘Scenery Suitcase.’ This will also prove useful in early years settings as children engrossed in play can take it outside to play with too. So often, small world play can be forgotten in the outdoor area and this is one of the most powerful places to play.
To make this particular scenery you will need:
- a project file (this will act as the suitcase)
- samples of artificial grass
- plastic leaves
- back drop from ‘The Gruffalo Activity Book’
- characters from story of your choice
- a copy of the story
- self adhesive pads
I removed the centre fold of ‘The Gruffalo Activity book’ and attached it to the inside lid of the suitcase using the self-adhesive pads. I’m not a massive fan of these activity books usually as they are so expensive and the activities suggested (in my opinion) are a bit poor. However, if any of you are members of Costco, they are selling 10 activity books for £9.99 at the moment and I have big plans for my books! We won’t be using them for the suggested activities. Although this is the back drop for the Gruffalo, it is essentially just trees so could be a forest/jungle/park and this is why I used it! Versatility and open-ended play is key for me.
Next, I used the sample pieces of artificial grass I got from ebay for 99p (and free delivery!) They are so good for small world play and I’m delighted with them. I used the self-adhesive pads to secure these in place on the inside of the case.
It goes without saying that J could use this box to retell and role play ‘The Gruffalo’ but I wanted to demonstrate it’s versatility. So, I opted for ‘The Jungle Book.’ I added a few ‘jungle vines,’ rocks and the characters that I found on ebay a few weeks ago.
When presenting J with this for the first time, I set it all out like the photo below and out our copy of the book next to it.
J got stuck in straight away by singing some of the songs from the film.
J then referred to each page in the book and used the pictures to remind him what happened. J role played with the characters and both narrated and acted the parts.
Developing story language and using different voices and expression when playing, will only ever benefit J in his Literacy development. Not only will Daddy and I be able to talk when we’re out, but J is learning too.
Aside from the songs, J’s favourite part of the story is when Mowgli and baby elephant bump heads. J wanted this to be just right as you can see below…
J enjoyed the fact he could pack up his story and walk around with it. He did this several times and then he’d open it all up and start the story again in a different part of the house.
This particular scenery can be used for literally hundreds of stories, just change the characters and add a new book!
Just a hand full of examples:
- Little Red Riding Hood
- The Three pigs
- Hansel and Gretel
- Monkey Puzzle
- Winnie the pooh stories
…and many more…
What did J learn?
- Fine motor development
- Story language and vocabulary
- Music and song (linking both sides of brain, excellent for future literacy)
- Imaginative and creative play
- Using different voices introducing intonation and expression