A house made of candy. A witch that gets thrown into the oven. What preschooler wouldn't love the story of Hansel and Gretel? The plot involves two children who are abandoned the woods until they find the gingerbread house owned by the mean old witch. The witch wants to eat them, but the kids outsmart the nasty menace and get away. Reinforce the story with a few entertaining activities that will make the tale come alive for your kiddos.
Act It Out
Read the story of Hansel and Gretel to your preschooler and then tell him that you're going to retell the story together. Get out some dress-up clothes and a few props. Let your kiddo decide what character he would like to be. You might have to be more than one person, but that will add to the amusement of the play. Have your preschooler act out the parts he remembers. You're not going for a perfect retelling, but see whether your child can remember the most important parts of the story. Set your camcorder on a tripod and tape the skit. You'll have a hilarious memento.
Make Treat Houses
After reading the story, your preschooler has likely expressed a desire to live in a house made of sweet treats. While that's not possible, making a small gingerbread house is. Use frosting to attach several graham crackers together to form a house. If you don't plan on eating the house, hot glue works better. Give your child frosting and a variety of candies to decorate the house with. Try not to notice how many pieces of candy go into her mouth instead of on the house.
Follow the Crumbs
When Hansel and Gretel are sent away from their home by their mean stepmother, they leave a trail of bread crumbs so they can find their way back. In the story, birds eat the crumbs, but doing the same activity with your preschooler is a good way to teach spatial skills. Give your child several pieces of bread and ask him to leave a trail of crumbs through the backyard so you can find him at the end. Don't peek while he's leaving the crumbs. Once he's done, follow the trail, then switch roles and leave a bread crumb trail for your preschooler to follow. If you don't want to waste food, white marbles or small rocks can stand in place of the bread crumbs.
Staple several pieces of blank white paper together. Ask your preschooler to retell the story of Hansel and Gretel by making her own book. Let her draw the pictures. Have her dictate the text to you and you can write the words on each page for her. Make the activity even more thought-provoking by asking her to come up with a new ending for the story. She might decide that the witch learns to be nice and makes friends with the kids or that Hansel and Gretel take the mean witch home to scare their wicked stepmother. Snuggle up and read the finished story together.
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