Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Children's Books Playscapes

Reading is just something we do at our house. We visit the library, we have bookshelves full of choices for everyone, books are part of our bedtime routine, reading is a fun thing to do. Most of the time. Then there are times when I realize that the only books Toddler Train Man read in a day were the ones before bed. Sometimes those trains just can't be left alone! 

To get back into the reading-is-fun groove, sometimes I just bring out the books at some point during the day. We read. Problem solved. Other times I've created "playscapes" to go with certain books. It's pretty easy to do and it literally brings books to life. Here's an example:

I picked a book that TTM knows, then gathered props to help him act out the book. Easy, right? 

Here's another:

I didn't have all the props I wanted for this book, so I printed out a few pictures from the internet, glued them to cardboard, added a cardboard "stand," and presto! And yes, that's a tree made from a paper towel tube with tissue paper tucked into the top. Perhaps it isn't pretty, but it's functional!

Usually I put these together at night, then leave them out for discovery the next day. When I forget and start gathering while TTM is awake, he gets interested and helps me get what we need. Also fun. 

My favorite part is listening in while he "reads"/acts out the book. I'm always amazed at how he remembers some of the phrases and even uses the expressions he's heard as the book was read to him. 

I did a REALLY simple playscape when TTM was 6 months old or so. It was one of those books with a big, bright picture of a toy and its name on each page (train, ball, teddy bear...you get the idea!). My memory is sketchy from that time (let's blame sleep-deprivation, shall we?), but I'm pretty sure he was surprised that the objects in the book could be real.

Kara at Simple Kids gave me the "playscapes" name with her post. You can read her ideas here.

How do you help children interact with books? What are some of your favorite children's books that could be retold this way?


  1. I love your playscapes - such great idea to make reading even more fun. I have to try this. We were just given a book with a play set included - "Care for our World" it's a very sweet story and it came with cardboard cut outs to do exactly what you have done here. I love your paper towel roll tree!

    1. Thanks! "Care for our World" sounds like a book I'd like...and with its own cut outs? Awesome! I'll have to check that out. You always have great recommendations!

  2. I love this idea - what a fun way to review and extend a story!

  3. I'd love to see what you'd come up with for a playscape--you're so creative and have great ideas!