Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Creating a Model and Reenacting the story of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff"

Preschoolers love role play. And I do mean love. 

Give them a costume, give them a puppet, get involved in a story with them, and they're off and running. They cannot get enough of pretend play. Which is why reenacting a story is such a natural way to draw preschoolers into narration.

The catch here is the getting-involved-in-the-story-yourself part. I have found that it doesn't take much to get my kids into reenactment, but it does take something. They need an example to follow. But once you give them that example, then they've got it - and it's so much fun!

This week, we're reading "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," loosely connecting it to letter B week. We've read this story so many times (and it's only Wednesday), and it's such a simple story, that it makes for a pretty great start to this kind of narration. 

I decided to start small, letting the kids reenact the story with character cards. Any kind of puppet would do. I found this awesome idea to recreate the setting of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" over at this website. But instead of cutting the pieces out of colored card stock, I wanted Daniel to actually paint the pieces of his model. 

Creating a Model and Reenacting the story of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff"


2 pieces of white card stock
paint brush
tempera paints (we used blues, greens, yellows, oranges, and black)
black marker
character cards (I printed ours out from this website)


Before the project, cut out two wide strips from one of the pieces of card stock. One strip should be slightly wavy (this is the stream under the bridge). The other strip will end of being the wooden bridge. Look below for pictures to help explain.

Daniel started by painting the grass for the pastures. We didn't do this (hind sight is 20/20!), but afterwards I thought that a great extension for this project would be to go outside to do the painting. How fun would it be to go out and observe the colors of grass, water, and actual wooden bridges?

We just talked about those colors. Ah well. 

Here's Daniel working on the grass. Since this is a bird's eye view model, Daniel painted the entire page green.

After the grass, Daniel wanted to paint his bridge piece. We discussed the fact that it was probably a wooden bridge. I asked Daniel what color he thought it should be, and when he replied that it should be brown, we discovered that we had no brown paint in our stash! 

Time to mix some up. We tried yellow and orange first, but it was too light. Then I squirted in a little black, and that seemed to do the trick. Daniel had a lot of fun stirring it up! And painting, of course. 

Once painted, we set it aside and Daniel painted the stream. As before, we talked about the colors of water. 

We tried to come up with some things that you might find in the water that aren't blue, things like river grass and mud. We talked about what those colors might be.

Then it was time to let all the pieces dry.

Patience. We picked Natalie up from school. We ate lunch. They took a nap. Well, they had quiet time anyway. There was hardly any sleeping going on back there. 

After nap, it was time. 

Daniel glued the stream down first:

Then the bridge. Before we glued it down, I let Daniel use a Sharpie to mark off the wooden planks:

Gluing it down was tricky, and required some help from me. I folded each end under about half an inch, squirted some glue on the folded pieces and Daniel put them down.

Then it was time to play! By this time, Natalie was a full participant (so much so that after this, she wanted to make her own model, which she promptly did), and had also heard the story many times this week, so she was able to reenact with Daniel.

Here's a little Instagram action:

Before reenacting, I read the story to them. Then I closed the book and put it aside. I will say that they both looked at me, a little unsure of what to do first. So I played the part of Little Billy Goat Gruff. I acted out the part, saying things like,

"Oh, I would really like to cross that bridge and eat some juicy green grass! I wonder if that fearful troll is at home. Oh well, guess I'll just cross the bridge and see...trip trap, trip trap."

It didn't take long for the kids to get as into it as I was. Using all the different voices, they retold the story, in their own words, without the aid of the pictures in the book. Being such a simple story really helped. If you try this with your kiddos, I would encourage you to choose a very simple classic with a lot of repetition (Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, etc.). 

And have fun with it! Learning at this age should be mostly fun. If you have fun with all the different voices, your kids are likely to get into it, too ;)

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