• Emily Hobson-Martin

Rainy days and bookish play

Have you ever searched online for a recipe, clicking on the one you fancy only to spend about twenty three minutes scrolling to get to the actual ingredients and method? Well this isn't one of those posts. I have had a rummage around the archives and found my favourite activities to do alongside Hilda's Forest, Otto's Ocean or Betty the Bee, what makes me- ME! I wont waffle- which is hard for me- instead; here they are!

Hilda's Forest

Hilda the Hedgehog wakes up in spring only to find her woodland companions facing the plastic pollution problem head on. How can she help? With her prickles of course!

The first book in the 'eco series', focusses on teaching children to look after our natural world- particularly by thinking about where litter ends up. Everyone loves a hedgehog and if your little ones need to warm up to a more in depth activity on recycling, try this lovely, autumnal activity which was created by The Wooden Play Den and shared with me on Instagram. (@thewoodenplayden thewoodenplayden.co.uk)

Nature Hedgehogs

If your little adventurers enjoy a nature treasure hunt along with crafting, this is for them!

  • Collect some natural materials from the garden, park or woodland. Remember to only take what you need and do so responsibly :-)

  • Cut out Hedgehog shapes from some card. Make sure you re- use some that you already have.

  • Coat the Hedgehogs in craft glue and decorate to your hearts content!

You could even use your new little Hilda's to play with whilst you read the story! This activity would be great for conversations about nature and perfect for exploring textures.

Recycle Recycle Recycle!

Why not take it one step further like the lovely @theparentrookie did. You could make the nature hedgehogs and then weave in bits of plastic and other material for your little ones to clean from her and sort in to different recycling areas ie: green bin for card, green bag for plastic- this will be different according to your local

recycling services and a great way to bring these concepts into the real world.

You can use wooden tongs to introduce some fine motor skills work and, depending on age, go into quite a lot of detail about where to recycle each thing and what will happen to it further down the line.

Why not take it one step further and make a Delbert Duck, Freda Fox and Meadow Mouse to add to your collection and let Hilda save them like she does in the story? The possibilities are endless!

Otto's Ocean

Octopus are clever things- and Otto is no exception! He travels through the ocean, from the kelp forests where he finds Trudy the turtle, through the inky blue where he discovers a tangled Winston the whale, all the way to the sea floor and poor little Murray the mussel who is struggling in the micro plastics.

Beach Cleaning

Many parents and childcare settings have told me that they have read Otto's Ocean and been inspired to don their gloves and head to the beach for a litter pick. If you are lucky enough to live near the seaside, make sure you follow the tips by following the link below for a super safe beach clean from #2minutebeachclean :


Water and small world play- save the sea creatures!

If you aren't quite set up for a beach clean, there are so many great activities to go alongside reading Otto's Ocean. Why not set up a water and/ or sensory play activity to recreate the action from the book? @14woo86 shared their brilliant bookish play idea with me- check it out:

They set up a small world play scene with water, sensory beans/ rice and ocean figures and let their imaginations run free! They hid plastic in the water and rescued the creatures from it, making sure their little ocean was free from litter. The beauty of 'freestyling' with activities like this is that children learn to explore for themselves and can play out scenes from the book which really reinforces any learning that might take place. And best of all- it's fun!

Betty the Bee, what makes me- ME!

Betty the Bee is a simple little bumble bee, with a lot of different sides to her! Throughout the book, Betty flies through different habitats and shows children that it is ok to feel lots of different emotions and to 'bee' themselves. Betty is illustrated in a very simple and bright way and has a very low word count- perfect for keeping younger readers engaged.

The lovely @one.wild.family.life sent me the following activities that they set up to go along with Betty and I think they are just brilliant!

What makes me, Me! Rainbow clouds

There are plenty of variations to this activity but I love how colourful and vibrant this is. Cut out cloud shapes and some rainbow coloured strips of paper and talk to your little ones about all of the emotions and mindsets that make them the awesome little person they are. Of course, we can't all be awesome all of the time and it's important to include some of the grumpier feelings and traits and let them know this is ok too.

Why not read Betty the Bee, what makes me- ME! and see if your little ones can act out- with facial expressions and gestures- all of the different versions of herself Betty is throughout the book. This works particularly well with younger children who might not be able to use words to explain how they feel.

An invitation to play/ talk/ think

This one is greater for slightly older children who are able to talk more in depth about feelings and emotions.

I love the laminated face- perfect for dry wipe markers of playdough to draw and create different feelings and what they look like in 'real life'.

It's a good idea to include lots of fun and colour in activities like this- some children enjoy the quieter activities and it's lovely to see them play out what they think these big feelings look like to them in a fun and engaging way.

And there we have it!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about some of the great activities that some wonderful planet protectors and big thinkers have come up with. I certainly love seeing these on my social media so if you happen to have a go at these, or make up any of your own make sure you tag me on facebook @teamhilda and instagram @hildasplanet_childrensbooks.

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