Earlier this week I was sent a review box from a new book subscription service called The Happy Book Club. The package arrived on Monday morning beautifully wrapped and letter box friendly which is always a good thing as it means no trips to the sorting office (hurrah!).
I opened the package up and was delighted to find two books that we haven’t read (nor had I heard of before). The first we looked at, The Wonder by Faye Hanson (Templar Publishing) is a really lovely book. It is all about a boy who daydreams, but is constantly told not to. He wonders about the world around him and if I’m honest I found it quite sad; his innate awe and wonder of the world around him is quashed at every turn, until he enters his art classroom and his imagination is let loose with the most amazing illustrations and thoughts and dreams. It is truly beautiful. It’s illustrated wonderfully and the pages come to life as his dreams litter the pages.
The second book Use Your Imagination by Nicola O’Byrne (Nosy Crow) is another brilliant book. It follows a rabbit who is persuaded by a wolf to use his imagination to tell a story, whilst all the while being gently guided by wolf. The end is superb and was great for prompting Mr D and Miss E to think about other ways rabbit could have ended the story.
The book club set a theme each month, in line with the books they send, and this months theme is ‘Imagination’ so the books tie in perfectly. I love using books as a springboard for activities as I often find that the most wonderful discussion and learning takes place. As the children are so engaged with books it is always lovely to extend our reading into an activity. I’ll admit however, I was stumped as to what I was going to do with these! The Happy Book Club sent some crafting items which included a brown craft bag, pom poms, lolly sticks, sparkly blue card, pipe cleaners and feathers. I needn’t have worried as the children soon used their own imaginations!
We talked about how rabbit might have escaped wolf in the Use Your Imagination story and we talked about how he might have hopped away, or maybe made some wings to fly away. The children soon introduced their favourite teddies, Monkey (affectionately known as Monks) and Lion. The children then decided Lion and Monks would hold onto a balloon to escape and from there we developed the idea of a hot air balloon.
This afternoon whilst Mr H snoozed we re-read the books and we decided to have a go at making hot air balloons for Lion and Monks. I found another brown craft bag and the children set about decorating one each. We used the pipe cleaners to make an L and M shape and the children used the sparkly blue card and other bits to decorate the bag with. I used the packaging card and paper to make two balloon shapes which the children then set about decorating. Mr D drew a picture of himself and some other monkeys onto his and Miss E ‘wrote’ names on hers.
We then used the bakers twine that had wrapped the package up to attach the basket to the balloon and the children made a flag each for Monks and Lion to wave (they’ve been flag obsessed since we made flags for our pirate theme). Mr D drew a number six as Monks is six (news to me!) and I’m not sure how Miss E decorated hers. We then put it all together and they’ve since spent the rest of the afternoon and evening flying Lion and Monks around the house.
I helped the children put this craft together in terms of cutting out the balloon shape and fastening it all together but they decorated it all and hit upon the idea of the flags. They then set up a small world play scene complete with dinosaurs, sharks, lollipop ladies etc and flew their hot air balloons over them. It was really lovely hearing them chatter away and imagine their bears flying around. At one stage they’d popped to Australia and met a Stegasaurus! As you can see below it is a very basic (to us as adults at least) scene but they have had the most amazing discussions and fun with this. It just goes to show that a bit of paper and card and a few toys is all they really need to develop a whole new world of wonder.
The children and I have had a ball with this book package and it’s taught me even more about the power of a child’s imagination. Using some basic craft supplies and the packaging the books were sent in we have created a whole new world of play.
Other ideas that I had for how we could have developed the idea of imagination included:
- dressing up as a rabbit and a wolf and the children act/play out their own version of the story
- general chatter and look to extend their own innate wonder – eg: when they ask why why why mummy take the time to fully explore their question rather than just give an answer. I need to do this more as I’m all too quick to sigh and just offer the answer sometimes or reply with’ because it just is’. Understandable (I hope!) when I’m asked ‘why’ a million times a day (OK not quite a million… but…)
- Explore some of the wonderings of the boy in the first story and see what Mr D and Miss E thought
- Making paper bag characters and using them as puppets
- Extend the hot air balloon theme to use helium filled balloons and talk about how/why they float etc.
The Happy Book Club is a quality subscription box idea. There are so many different subscription boxes at the moment and I am thrilled we have been give the opportunity to test this one out. I was sent books that we ordinarily wouldn’t have looked at and it’s taught me a lot about how I approach activities and also about just how imaginative children can be with a little nudge and support. I fully expect the hot air balloons to be flying around the house for days to come.
To join the Happy Book Club see here. To see details of previous months packages see here. You’ll also see that the Happy Book Club make a donation each month to charity, another great reason to support them.
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