One of the things I love about the winter is snuggling under a blanket with a hot drink and a good book. I’ve been looking at books with Blue and reading to him since he was first born and now he will happily sit on his own, pick up a book and read to himself in his own babble. As he approaches his second birthday he is often in more of a ‘run around like a balloon on the loose’ type of mood but the recent freezing weather has provided some lovely lazy afternoons perfect for cosy, quiet book time together.
Zoe and Beans is a series by father and daughter team Chloe and Mick Inkpen and ‘Hello Oscar!’ is the latest story in this series. Zoe is naturally inquisitive and this adventure with her trusty dog, Beans, leads her to find a guinea pig at the end of the garden, then another, then a tortoise, a chameleon, a parrot and a mysterious hole in the fence… Blue loved meeting the new animals as he hasn’t come across a chameleon and a tortoise yet but his favourite was definitely the enormous parrot.
Blue loved the new animals so much that the book inspired the rest of our afternoon. I photocopied pictures of all the main characters in the story and laminated the pictures, just because (if you have a laminator you will understand the need to laminate anything that doesn’t move) and I wanted the characters to withstand an afternoon being played with by a toddler. We re-read the story and I introduced each of the cut-out characters.
We arranged the characters in the order in which we meet them in the story.
Blue spent time picking up the characters and putting them in his pockets, having ‘conversations’ between different characters and finding them in the book to match them up. He doesn’t have a lot of spoken language yet but once he does we could also lay the characters on a tray, cover them with a cloth and then see how many of the characters he can remember in a ‘Hello Oscar!’ version of Kim’s Game.
‘Hello Oscar!’ is a playful story that really lends to re-telling. Giving your children props (or making them with your children) to help them re-tell stories is an excellent way of helping your child to learn about the structure of stories. Re-telling well-known or well-loved tales helps children to internalise stories so that when they are old enough to write their own they have an understanding of plot, sequence and characters.
I have left the book out in a cosy corner of the house with all the laminated characters and Blue has returned to the story. He really enjoys playing with the animals: they keep turning up in unexpected places – I never thought I would find a laminated guinea pig in with the saucepans! What I thought would be a lovely way to spend an hour in the afternoon has turned into games and play that have now lasted days.
Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Zoe and Beans ‘Hello Oscar!’ by Chloe and Mick Inkpen but this doesn’t change our opinions.