Sunday, February 6, 2011

Play and Learn with Mama - Week 2: "Hou vas, Seekoei!"

    Our book for the week was a lovely Afrikaans picture book called Hou vas, Seekoei! (Translated, that would be Hang on, Hippo!)

Hanna and her dad decides that this beautiful, sunny Saturday is far too nice to spend at home in front of the television, so they pack a picnic lunch and head for the beach, with Hanna's blow-up hippo in tow. When a gust of wind grabs a hold of Hippo, Hanna has to run for all she's worth to catch up to him. A snappy crab nearly pinched him, while a crew of pessimistic seagulls screeches discouragement. But Hanna won't give up that easily, and in the end all ends well.

Elements of the book we focussed on:
  • Vocabulary: beautiful, descriptive language describes how the wind bullied Hippo!
  • Beach clothing: Sweetpea's favourite new word is 'sarong'!
  • Seagulls
  • Wind, air, breath 
  • Sand and beach activities.

Here' s what we got up to:

Pre-writing and fine motor exercises:

Hippo maze from "Dinkie Mazes" by Smile Education

Tracing the letter S and identifying words related to the story that starts with the s sound

Simple dot-to-dot from "Dinkie Dots" by Smile Education
I was very excited when Sweetpea asked to colour the hippos. She has not shown much interest in colouring before, but asked me if we could colour these and if I would show her how. So I coloured the big dot-to-dot hippo, and she followed suit with the mazes hippos - and loved it! About a week and a half has passed since we did this, and she has been colouring every day since. I leave a few colouring books and pencils out for her and she happily spends at least a few hours a day at this.

Learning about birds
Circle all the sea birds.

We also made a little booklet with facts and pictures about seagulls. The pictures were placed in a little basket, and as we read the heading on each page together (Seagull's webbed feet, Seagull's eggs...etc) she would pick the appropriate picture and glue it down in the space provided on each page. (This was self-correcting in a way, as I had made the spaces/empty rectangles the same size as each individual picture)


We made these fun beach desserts inspired by a similar one I saw here. Ours were made with instant vanilla pudding (mixed with soy milk), crushed Tennis biscuits, and we used an apricot sweetie for a beach ball!

Sweetpea's favourite part was crushing the biscuits with the rolling pin.

Sensory play

We made a batch of play dough and mixed in a whole lot of sand, which Sweetpea then used to make a beach with! She used pebbles and shells (both mentioned in our story book), and one of her small pocket dolls was got the role of Hanna, the main character in our book! 

Here is 'Hanna', riding a dolphin to the beach - not part of the original story, but oh, so much fun that I think it should have been!!


Our first science activity involved talking about wind, and how we can make 'wind' with our breaths. We looked at a picture of our lungs from Big and Busy Body by Roger Priddy, and inhaled and exhaled with our hands on our ribs. We then tried to see how many things we could blow - not included here is a small blow-up whale bath toy.

We then learnt about floating and sinking and used a diagram on our dry-erase board to jot down which items sank and which floated.


Sweetpea painted a beach scene with paint mixed with sand. I had pre-cut the shapes and afterwards she glued them down herself. I was very impressed with her composition!! (My apologies: I just can't get this picture to upload in landscape!)

We made footprint flip-flops which will decorate the front cover of our lapbook later.

Another possibility inspired by the book would be to do wax resist painting, like the illustrator used for the clouds. 

A trip to the beach!
 Before we took off we did a quick worksheet on appropriate clothing to wear.

Which clothes can we wear to the beach? 

My youngest sister joined us and the children had soooo much fun hanging out with their aunt!

And just for fun...

A cheery handprint sun! You can print the face from here. (I was going to use this for a backyard beach scene, but we didn't get around to it - see below)

More ideas
Things we just didn't get around to:
  • Making a backyard beach scene by sticking poster board palm trees and a merry sun against an outside wall, and then drinking juice from pineapples while lounging on your beach towels, the Beach Boys playing in the background!
  • Cut beach pails and shovels from bright cardboard and let the child sort them from largest to smallest
  • Counting cardboard sea stars.


  1. Wow, you did have lots of fun with this theme! I LOVE Sweetpea's sandpaint art!! Super stuff Joyful Mama!!

  2. Thanks, dear friend, it was great fun!! Beauty and joy to you this week! xxx

  3. Where did you get the Smile Education Stuff. From what I last heard they only supply schools now and no longer private people. I love their stuff and would like to order things. I also need new crosses for my 0x0 set.

  4. It looks like an interesting and fun filled week!

    Thank you for following me and I am now following you as well.


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