Thursday, September 17, 2015

Toddler Book plus Activities: The Gruffalo

Sweet Turtle Soup - Toddler Book plus Activities: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
One of our favorite Halloween books is "Room on the Broom" by Julia Donaldson, which is how I came across "The Gruffalo" by the same author. They have (or at least had) cartoons for "Room on the Broom", "The Gruffalo", and "The Gruffalo's Child" on Netflix, so we actually watched the cartoon before we read the book. But, the cartoons were so good that we immediately had to hunt down the books at our library.

The books are a little whimsical, a little fun, and a little cute. There is a mouse taking a stroll and he runs into a fox, owl, and snake so he tells them about a gruffalo. And, because it is a British children's book and the cartoons are narrated by British actors I always read it with a British accent in mind.  I recommend the movies as highly as the book. It is one of those cases where the movie actually amplifies the story - they slow down the story and add a good amount of little details in the animation.

And, much to my delight it lends itself really well to all sorts of activities. Here are five that we did to go along with "The Gruffalo":

Gruffalo Play Dough activity, chocolate play dough
Do you want to build a....gruffalo? I've been singing that for days.
I whipped up a batch of chocolate play dough using this recipe. Dyed some toothpicks with food colors (because I couldn't find purple toothpicks). And, picked up a bag of beads. Then while we read through "The Gruffalo" Aria and I built up our play dough gruffalo using the descriptions in the book - orange eyes, purple prickles, green wart, etc.
She did a great job matching parts to their proper location on the blob of play dough and when we were done she wanted to do it again. I told her she could make whatever she wanted so she made a dog with colorful fur and then a dragon of moderate size. She played with this for about an hour, and we've done it multiple days since then. So it is safe to say this one is a hit!

Big F, little f...what begins with F, Fox foot print art, fox craft
Aria and I made a foot print fox. I think it may be my favorite of the foot & hand print art we've done.
Big F little f, what begins with f...
p.s. how do you like her new sparkly dress up outfit?

Gruffalo Feast: roasted fox, scrambled snake, owl ice cream, gruffalo crumble, mouse on a slice of bread
In the book the mouse tricks a fox, owl, and snake by saying he is meeting a gruffalo whose favorite food is roasted fox, owl ice cream, and scrambled snake. So, we made roasted fox, owl ice cream, and scrambled snake! Plus, gruffalo crumble and mouse on a slice of bread, which are the other two foods mentioned in the story.
You can really just use your imagination on this and take it in any number of directions. For the roasted fox I roasted chopped sweet potato, sausage, and carrots. For the scrambled snake I dyed pasta green and added peas and pesto. For the mouse on a slice of bread I got extra thick slices of turkey from the deli counter and made an open faced sandwich. For the gruffalo crumble I made apple crumble. And for the owl ice cream I sprinkled vanilla ice cream with colored chocolate crunchies.
The only thing Aria liked was the owl ice cream. She was definitely intrigued and talked about this feast for days afterwards, but she certainly didn't want to try any of it. So I'd give it a 50/50 fun to flop ratio.

Build a creature roll game
 When I was brainstorming ideas for "The Gruffalo" activities I thought it would be fun to build our own creature. Then I saw somebody else turned it into a roll game, which sounded like even more fun. It is a little beyond Aria's art abilities right now, but I was pretty impressed with what she could create.
I went through the book and picked out all the descriptors you get of the gruffalo and turned them into categories with 6 different options. Then Aria could roll a die for each body part and add whichever it landed on to her basic creature shape. I called it her 'Arialo'.
I didn't think of it until after the fact but instead of using more detailed body parts I could have used simple shapes, especially for the hands and feet. That may have been a little bit more age appropriate. Either way this is the most detailed art she's ever done, so I thought it was great.

felt fox roll play mask for toddler
felt mouse roll play mask for toddler
My first idea was to make play masks for all 5 of the creatures in the story. I narrowed it down to 3 from there, and then after cutting out the pieces for the first mask I thought meh how about just 2. Now seeing how cute the masks turned out, I might just make a few more for fun. After I get the feeling back in my finger and thumb from cutting that is.
I made the masks using this tutorial for a guide but designed the fox and mouse from these images - you can purchase them to print but I just free-handed them myself so I could use felt.
I also enlisted great-grandma's help in sewing the pieces together because quite frankly her sewing machine is daunting. Thanks, great-grandma!

And there you have it 5 activities to go along with "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson.

*Amazon affiliate links

For 5 activities that go along with "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" by Laura Numeroff click here!

For 5 activities that go along with "Bear Wants More" by Karma Wilson click here!

For 5 activities to go along with "Olivia" by Ian Falconer click here!

For 5 activities that go along with "Pinkalicious" by Victoria Kann click here!


  1. I'm always getting the best book ideas from you!! How FUN!

  2. I love how you have made the book come alive with these extra activities for Aria. So creative!

  3. As always, wonderful ideas! I have never heard of this or the movies even but it sounds freaking adorable! And that fox footprint is the best! I am such a fan of anything footprint related!!!

  4. I just adore how you have activities for everything! So awesome. Mason found Gruffalo on Netflix the other day and watched it for the first time. Precious pictures, as always!

  5. This is AWESOME!! We saw The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child on Netflix too and then bought the books. These are such cute ideas! I love that fox mask! What a fun way to make this book come alive! You're such a fun mom!

  6. These are my favorite posts, hands down! Your projects are amazing. Ive made cocoa dough before and wouldnt mind eating it lol (I didnt in case you were wondering.) The masks are darling! You could reuse them and do Jan Brett's The Hat or The Mitten. We havent read the book but we saw the movie on Netflix last year and the animation was amazing and I can totally hear you using a British accent hehe.

  7. Once again you knocked it out of the park friend!

  8. I've never heard of the Gruffalo book but we love the Room on the Broom book! I might just have to find this book now. I love her drawing... kinda looks like an old fat man to me :) lol. I'm sure that's not what she was going for! Ha!

  9. This is amazing. I love your book and activity posts, but you seriously outdid yourself with this one.
    That footprint fox is about the best ever. I've never seen a print like that.
    Can you come be my book activies coordinator?

  10. You are so creative! I love these posts you do. :) I must've missed the one about Pinkalicious -- that's one of Tory's favorite books so I'm definitely going to revisit your ideas for that book and recreate them with her.

  11. You're just so stinking talented!!! Loving Aria's new sparkle dress up before you even mentioned it!

  12. Only two masks? Slacker! 😉 Seriously if you taught preschool I'd put Ez on a plane and send him to you. You come up with the best crafts and those masks look like professional quality. Definitely gonna check out these books and movies.

  13. and once again you are a genius!! I wish I had the forethought and energy to do these activities...maybe one day! At least I can save all of your ideas for when I get my act together! One question I have is...Do you do all of these activities in the same day or througout the week??

  14. Your book activities are some of my favorite posts of yours lady. You have a knack at pulling it all together but not making it so complicated that I don't feel like I can do it too. I love them.


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