Story Stones activity for The Mitten, by Jan Brett

Feb 9, 2016

This week we’re reading The Mitten, by Jan Brett, so I made some story stones showing all the animals in the book. They’ve been great for exploring the story and for imaginative play. Story stones are such a simple way to develop toddler or preschool children’s experience of books, and they don’t have to be a complex craft project if you’re pressed for time, as I was. Here’s how I made and used them:

mitten story stones

Each week I choose a book to read every day with my kids, so that the repetition helps them to get to know it well. The boys loved The Mitten, and playing with the paper cutouts from Jan Brett’s webpage. I was surprised at how quickly they picked up the story sequence.

To expand our play we collected some stones from the garden, and washed them thoroughly in soapy water. Once the stones were clean and dry I simply drew each of the animals using a permanent marker. My animals aren’t works of art, but I think they are recognizable!

I read my kids the story and they took turns putting the stone animals into a little mitten as we read. Great practice for the youngest to learn to use in! We looked at how the mitten bulged and became fuller. Afterwards we used the stones with some homemade play dough as ‘snow’ and did some simple pretend play. My three-year-old reenacted the story for himself unprompted, and my two-year-old fed the animals. I left the stones out for free play this week.

This is such a simple activity but I wanted to share it because story stones are an easy, free way to add interest when reading, for any book, not just The Mitten! Many of us learn better when several senses are engaged. Seeing pictures in a book helps children to understand more than if they only heard the words. Holding a story stone adds another level of sensory experience: touch. The stones also provide objects to prompt imaginative play and retelling after reading time. If you’re crafty or have older children, there are great ideas for making beautiful story stones at The Artful Parent and at Happy Hooligans. I’m planning to use the idea again with other stories, so we’ll probably build up a collection, and maybe I’ll make them more colorful next time!

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