I originally wrote about this craft for a guest post I did at Imagination Soup. Melissa, creator of Imagination Soup, has kindly agreed for me to publish this activity here so that I can share it with my readers.
We are huge Oliver Jeffers fans in our home. His sweet, simple stories of friendship and adventure are timeless, and his illustrations are beautiful. Whether it be the tale of friendship in Lost and Found, the fantastic adventure of The Incredible Book Eating Boy, the poignancy of The Heart and the Bottle, or the hilarious Stuck, we love them all. We read How to Catch a Star and The Way Back Home almost daily.
Since we also love creating small world play scenes, (such as our frog pond, dinosaur island and dinosaur jungle), we thought it would be fun to create a small world based on Lost and Found. Lost and Found is the story of a young boy who one day discovers a penguin on his doorstep. The boy decides that he must help return the penguin to his proper home, and they share an adventurous journey to the South Pole. The boy soon discovers however, that the penguin is not lost but lonely, and a friendship is born.
My goal whenever we create one of these play scenes, is to only use items that we already have in the house. It’s all about using your imagination and making use of what you have on hand. Here is what we created…
We used a large plastic container (the same one we use for our solar system sensory tub) to contain everything so this was a kind of small world/sensory tub hybrid! The ocean was made from blue and green coloured rice which added a wonderful sensory element. I’ll post a tutorial for coloured rice soon but it’s pretty simple. Add uncooked rice into a zip lock back, add a few drops of food coloring and a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol (optional). Zip the bag closed and shake it so that the color spreads evenly through the rice. Leave the rice to dry and then it’s ready to use. Easy!
R (4) had great fun recreating scenes from the book like this one, where the boy and penguin miss each other on either side of an iceberg, the boy sailing in his boat, the penguin in the upturned umbrella. The icebergs were made from pieces of styrofoam which we decorated with pale blue glitter paint to make them “snowy”. The umbrella was simply a cupcake case that we coloured orange and yellow to match the one in the book with a pipe cleaner bent into a “J” shape for the handle.
The two adventurers travel through night and day, storms and sunshine on their way to the South Pole. We made one side of the tub a stormy night, one side a starry night and a third side was a cloudy blue sky. For the stormy night we used black cardboard, painted on some rain with white paint, and stuck on some silver pipe cleaners for the lightning. For the blue sky we added silver star stickers for the night and cotton balls for the clouds.
One of my favourite parts of our play scene was the “Welcome to the South Pole” sign. The “legs” of the sign were made using toothpicks which we coloured red using a permanent marker. The sign was simply yellow and red paper glued together and decorated with gold glitter. The sweet little penguin was made using a styrofoam egg which we had left over from our Easter crafts. I cut the bottom off the egg to make the base flat, ensuring our lovely penguin didn’t keep tumbling off the edge of the iceberg and into the cold ocean! We painted him black, with his tummy left white except for a small orange line of paint on his chest. Scraps of orange paper were glued on for his feet and beak. Add a couple of googly eyes and you’re done!
We a tiny suitcase from a lego set for the boy’s suitcase. The boat was made from a small milk carton. We cut one side off, washed it, and painted it white with a red stripe around the edge. Easy! We used popsicle sticks to make the oars and glued on some brown paper with white stripes painted on them for the paddles.
Which just leaves the boy. He’s made from a toilet paper roll. He was very simple to paint – even for a non artist like me who can’t draw to save myself. That’s the beauty of Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations – they are so delightfully sweet and simple, making them easily adaptable for a craft project like this one. The boy’s hat was also much simpler to create than it looks. We tore off a small piece of paper napkin, wrapped it around the top of the TP roll, then tied it with a rubber band to make the pom pom.
This small world scene really brought the book to life and was such a fun way to encourage R’s love of reading. It was beautiful to watch his imagination run riot and this type of activity boosts his language and story telling skills as well. It was a truly lovely way for R and I to spend time together – creating, imagining and learning.
What’s your favourite Oliver Jeffers book?
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