Story Elements

I have recently been working on retelling story and understanding story elements with my four-year-old.This activity combines art and literature, which will help those visual and tactile learners.

Children will also be able to understand and internalise ideas,practice reading skills, discuss literary elements, analyse story structure, and learn from characters.

What you need:
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Pencil
What you do:

Choose a picture book that your child really enjoys. First read the book with them. You can also listen to the story on the CD or watch it on youtube!

Then, discuss the different parts of a story. There are five main parts of a story to focus on with young learners. You will need to define each part (element) of the story to your children:

l-124444You can include more or less, depending on the age of the learner. I have only introduced setting; characters; and plot to my four year old. I feel that theme and point of view might be a little too abstract for younger minds

After you have gone through the story with your child, you will illustrate each of the elements or parts of the story and create a book.  For some children, this might be a project they want to do again and again.

For my first project with Rayes, he chose Big Hero 6. A few days later we worked on Spiderman and Fireman Sam. It looks like he wants to explore more and i can’t wait for our next book!

Fireman Sam : Hero Next Door

sam 3x

sam 3z

The Amazing Spiderman

 spiderman 3

Big Hero 6 : Team up



Egyptology – Mummification

Ancient Egypt is a fascinating subject for children. My son, Rayes, loves to discover the wonders of Ancient Egypt through reading! There are seemingly a million books on this topic, but his favourites so far have been :

  • National Geographic Kids – Everything Ancient Egypt
  • I Wonder Why Pyramids Were Built
  • 1000 Facts Ancient Egypt
  • Usborne Young Readers – Tutankhamun

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One of the most memorable things about Ancient Egypt for kids, has to be the well-preserved mummies they left behind! Rayes used the information that we gleaned from these books to come up with a list that we could use in our own mummification activity.


I thought long and hard about how we could incorporate a hands-on activity for mummification. Someone suggested we mummify a chicken,   fruits or veggies. But ultimately I really I wanted to do something that had more to do with the ritual aspect of mummification. So, we decided to mummify Barbie!

First we gathered our materials:

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organs 2



I cut out little organs from pieces of craft felt. I taped the heart to her chest because that was the only organ that got to stay with the body. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart contained the soul and in the afterlife it was judged accordingly.

We started with the removal of the brain which was pulled out through the nose with a special tool (we used tong). The brain was deemed unimportant by the Ancient Egyptians and discarded immediately.


 Removal of the brain through the nose

The other organs, however, were removed and preserved in canopic jars. I didn’t have time to prepare the canopic jars. Canopic jars were used by the Ancient Egyptians during the rituals of mummification processes to hold the internal organs of the deceased that was going to be mummified. The jars had lids or stoppers that were shaped as the head of one of the minor funerary deities known as the Four Sons of HORUS.


Removal of the organs 


Organs removed kept in the canopic jars

Next, we covered the body with salt. The Ancient Egyptions used Egyption salt called ‘natron’ to treat the body. The body and organs were then left in this solution for 35 days to allow the necessary chemical changes to occur.

collage 3

Salting the body

After salting, we brushed the body with oils.


Brushing the body with oil  

Then the process of wrapping began… We used a few strips of white crepe papers found in my art supplies. You could also use white linens!

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Wrapping the body 

Then it was time to put on the death mask and “pray over the body”. Rayes prayed that this mummy will soon get to play with all her favourite toys in the afterlife.


All wrapped…

The Ancient Egyptians placed mummies in wonderfully built tombs. The tombs were painted with nice scenes from the deceased person’s life. We kind of fudged a bit on the whole sarcophagus/tomb thing. But hey you got to work with what you got and what we had was an empty shoe box.  

Mummies were often buried with many of their belongings that might be needed in the afterlife. So we placed jewels and accessories in the tomb/shoebox. Barbie was ready to be welcomed into the afterlife accompanied by her favourite things! Rayes paid his final respects.. Goodbye dear friend..




Learning about volcanoes is always  super fun!!

We read several books and watched eruptions on youtube. We talked about some science behind; how volcanoes are formed, why volcanoes exist and what causes them to erupt. When exploring about volcanoes with children, it is also important to discuss how they affect people and how we are safe and not anywhere close to any active volcanoes.



For a little history lesson, we talked about memorable volcano eruptions in history from Pompeii, to Paricutin, to Mt. St. Helens. We pointed out these volcanoes in books we read and I showed him some related videos on youtube.


Volcano Picture Set Cards and Parts of Volcano Cards

My son really enjoyed  the books about volcanoes, but he was really excited to see and talk about pictures of volcanoes, so I prepared Volcano Picture Set Cards and Parts of Volcano Cards for him.


Volcano Picture Set Cards




Parts of Volcano Cards

We also watched nomenclature cards on Parts of Volcanoes on youtube. You can go to this link to view the video.

Baking Soda eruption

Of course we had to do the classic vinegar and baking soda volcanoes. My son loved this. So exciting !! It took several times to get it right and we used up all of the vinegar and baking soda!!

188280990To make vinegar and baking soda volcanoes, pour some vineyard and red food colouring in a small container and then add baking soda for an eruption. You can pile up dirt or play dough or sand around the container to make it look more like an actual volcano.

Personal experience

While I was on the subject of volcanoes, I tried to relate our own personal experience with the the help of photos and videos taken during our trip to National Park on the Big Island, Hawaii two years ago.



Happy Birthday Rayes


I can’t quite believe that you are 4 years old today. Four years ago I became a mother and with that came the huge responsibility of raising a newborn you. I hope I’ve done a good job so far and I’m so grateful that you came into my life, our lives, that day.

Everyday you amaze me with how much you know. You are reading and writing and love nothing more than looking at books or puzzles with numbers or letters in them. You are truly a human sponge!

You know your own mind and know what you want which can make you a stubborn child but I’m sure will stand you in good stead in later years to truly go out there and make something of yourself. I know you will make us so proud! you are already showing you have the makings of becoming someone really, really amazing.

You are caring and thoughtful, always making sure we’re all OK and asking if we “had fun”.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday today. You’ve been waiting to be 4 and I wonder how long it will be before you are wishing you were 5. I for one will not be wishing your life away as you are growing up far too fast.

Happy Birthday Rayes.



I always wanted to do something new with water besides sprinkler, water balloons, or pool. So I trieed something different and this activity was fun! All you need is foil! Just turn the water on and form the river around it.

Rayes took the serious job of relaunching the boats and changing the flow of the river by reshaping the foil. We played till about late evening then we just rolled up our foil to save for another day. Our neighbours were giving us strange looks… but we had fun! 😉 😉



Lego City

Rayes has been obsessed with lego recently after watching the famous Lego Movie in the cinema last month and ever since, he has been asking me to build Briskburg for him.So I decided to surprise him with our very own Lego City !!! This is supposed to be our school holiday project (next week) but since we are going to be travelling, so he got the Lego City Surprise much earlier!! L1000709

This is  a perfect indoor activity to keep kids engaged for hours!

It is pretty simple really, even though it took a bit of time. All you need is a roll of tape (I used blue masking tape), lego bricks, some blocks or things to build with.

I started off by taping down double lines for roads and made a grid on the floor in his playroom. Then I cut out the places where the roads intersected. This made squares that I turned into city blocks.

I then filled one block with a train station



 a construction site



a police station



a farm



a fire station



a flat/hotel


he helped me to build a bank and a pretzel shop


there is also an airport (it is not really an airport. he just wanted to place his B-Wing star wars lego in the city so we decided to have one block for his B-Wing)


and… there is also Lord Business’ Evil Lair. My husband took one whole day to build this one last month! So i finally got to move this set from my leaving room (which previously  looked like a Lego Museum!!) 




he added a few more buildings, a school and a house with a garden which. He calls it “Mummy’s house”


L1000687In the end, we had quite the city.



We spent most of the morning building and the rest of the afternoon and the whole next day playing in the city.

I don’t usually do really big activities unless I know that they will have big results. It took so much time to get this thing set up, but considering he enjoys playing  with it  that half day  was totally worth it. !!!



Pretend Play – Doctor’s Clinic/Surgery

Pretend play is a great way to build kids’ imagination, vocabulary, cooperation skills and so much more. My son loves to make up his own imaginary and role play games and I have set up lots of little scenarios to support this in the past, from a role play organic market, a play dough ice cream shop shop and a garden centre.

I set up up a pretend play hospital for him last year (October), to overcome doctor fears. After liking his previous doctor visits early last year, he was suddenly terrified when we took him to see his pediatrician for the last injection which was due in October last year. He screamed and cried the whole way through. So I began to come up with Doctor Play  to help with Rayes’s sudden fear of the doctor.

Playing doctors and patients can also be a hugely helpful way for ill children to play through some of their experiences of medical experiences and make sense of them in a familiar context at home.


I printed some simple signs that might be seen in a real doctor’s surgery and placed those around the room.


Then I found some blankets, doctor’s outfit (from ELC), dollies and teddies and a doctor’s pretend play kit to finish off the scene.


I also added in a box of plasters, some super-cheap stretchy bandages, a medicine spoon, a box for herbal medicine and a medicine syringe. I think REAL materials are far superior to toys, as so much more learning takes place.


We talked about needing each patient to come and check in at the desk and how they must write their names down in the forms. This is to introduce some purposeful writing opportunities and for understanding why and when adults might use writing in these scenarios. Rayes was very keen to give all his little patients names and to have a go at writing the names, spelt phonetically or using invented letter combinations.


He checked them out using their medical instruments and we talked about what each one was used for and what it could tell us about the patient’s medical conditions. He was particularly keen on the stethoscope and listening out for any funny noises from all parts of the bodies!

First patient was Teddy who was VERY hot, until he became “warmer” and was then, thankfully, much better!




Then the casualties just rolled into the surgery, one after another, all with some fairly bizarre and/or catastrophic injuries! Most seemed to have fallen and hurt their knees or legs, and about 95% of all complaints were solved with the aid of a plaster.


Ernie  had a temperature and needed some medicine and a lie down. Soon, he was joined by a literal heap of fellow patients all clamouring for Doctor Rayes’s s attention.



And daddy needed to have a stethoscope applied to his chest to “listen for things that are wrong” inside it. He was diagnosed with a “broken heart”, which was pretty tragic, but just a few drops of medicine later and he made a complete and dramatic recovery!
Later on there was a patient with “broken eyebrows” and “hurting hair”, which both sounded pretty serious! It reminds me how little experience with real illness or injury he has encountered so far, thankfully, so for now we can be thrilled that these are the worst things that could happen!

I provided my little doctor with a microscope.  I spent a fair bit of time researching microscopes before settling on the Edu Science M640x Microscope – Blue that comes together with a set of child-friendly slides and glass slides for creating our own specimens. I did not expect my three year old to enjoy using the microscope, but I was wrong. He liked it very much!!



He also enjoyed working with his human torso (National Geographic). This human torso is safe and fun to be used by children. It contains eight removable organs (oesophagus, stomach, liver, large intestines, small intestines, bowel). After having this human torso in our pretend play doctor’s surgery, Rayes knew all of the organs and he could  put them in order. Hoorayyy !!




What they are learning as they play:

Literacy: emergent reading of signs and labels in a role play environment, purposeful pre-writing about real life contexts, mark making and emergent writing, list making, new medical vocabulary

Knowledge and Understanding of the world: understanding what doctors do, learning about medical equipment and its purpose, talking about illness and treatment

Creativity: imaginative role play and dramatic play, taking on a role and remaining in character

Vocabulary: there was lots of new vocabulary introduced and worked into the play, including patient, stethoscope, organ, thermometer, bandage, temperature, and recover. Great for language and literacy development!