5 Ways To Bring Children’s Books To Life

Feb 9, 2016

I adore children’s books. In fact, despite the fact that we seem to have a ridiculous number of bookshelves in our house, we still don’t have enough space to house all of our kid's books.

They’re just one of those things. I can actually justify buying them and I enjoy having them around the house—a combination that leads to a rather large book collection.

Many of the activities I enjoy doing at home and in my classroom when I'm teaching are based on great children's books. I can’t help myself—there are just so many fun possibilities! Plus, why not get a little more out of a book if you can, right?

Here are five of my favourite ways to bring children’s stories to life:

1. Create a storytelling basket and retell the story

A storytelling basket is simply a basket of props and pieces that can be used to tell or retell a story.

They’re simple to put together and with a little imagination, chances are you already have everything you need to create a basket based on one of your child’s favourite books. 

A Three Little Pigs-themed storytelling basket.

When pulling together the basket, don’t worry too much about replicating the story’s elements. As long as you have a few of the characters or objects featured in the book, your child’s imagination will likely take care of the rest.

Once ready, set the basket out in a cozy spot and watch as your little one retells his favourite story and very likely takes it in new directions too.

2. Put together a themed play dough tray and play

Oh, how we love play dough! Playing with it is a fantastic sensory experience that allows little ones to build hand strength and coordination and encourages them to be creative and build their imaginations. With the addition of different tools and loose parts, the possibilities are truly endless. 

A play dough tray based on the children's book

To put together a book-themed play dough tray, simply choose a certain element of the book, whether it be the setting or a particular character, and run with it—there’s really no right or wrong here. Colour the dough accordingly, add in a few loose parts or small figures and let your little one dive in.

Here's an example of a play dough kit inspired by the book Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.

3. Dress up and role play

An absolute favourite in our house—I can’t tell you how often my little one goes straight to our dress-up station after finishing a book!

A dress-up set based on Cinderella.

Kids love to dress up and role play. Whether it’s a story about a firefighter, a bear, a teacher or a princess, you’re bound to find something in the house that will transform your little one into one of the story’s characters—elaborate tickle trunk not needed! 

Turn a towel into a superhero cape, add construction paper ears to a headband with sticky tape or transform a paper bag into a robot’s body—anything goes! 

When ready, reenact the story, play out your child’s favourite scene or create a completely new chain of events involving the book’s characters.

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4. Create puppets and put on a show

Another fun activity that lends itself really well to all kinds of books! This one is especially fun as it involves two parts—first, creating the puppets and second, using the puppets to story tell or put on a show.

There’s lots of possibility material-wise with this one too: paper bag puppets, popsicle stick puppets, sock puppets, toilet tube puppets, wooden spoon puppets. The list could go on forever!

A puppet activity based on

Get started by making a list of your story’s main characters, then dig through your craft cupboard and recycling bin to find some fun supplies and get crafting!

Once your puppets are dry, invite your little one to pop behind the couch and put on a show for you.

5. Cook or bake

One of my favourites! Many stories, even if not directly about food, lend themselves well to some sort of cooking or baking project.

When reading with your little one, keep your eyes peeled for food or ingredient references, then see what you can come up with in terms of related cooking projects. Some books are easy—a book like Blueberries for Sal might lend itself well to blueberry smoothies, blueberry muffins or blueberry pancakes, whereas Bread and Jam for Frances might lend itself well to homemade bread, butter in a jar or refrigerator jam.

Other books might require a bit more imagination. Coconut popsicles would work well with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (because of the coconut tree), mini apple pies would be great with The Giving Tree (because it’s an apple tree) and oatmeal would work paired with Goodnight Moon (because of the bowl of mush).

A cooking set for kids based on the book

Keep it simple and remember that most kids are going to have a blast in the kitchen no matter what they’re making.

Well, that’s it! Five fun activities you can pair with many of your munchkin’s favourite books. Enjoy!

Love books as much as we do? You can see some of our favourite specific book activities here.

Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.