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One of our favorite winter picture books is The Mitten by Jan Brett. It tells the story of a boy, Nikki, who loses his newly made white mitten in the snow, just as his grandma, Baba, predicted he would. The story goes on to describe how one animal after another decides to snuggle into the warm woolen mitten. It is stretched and stretched, but Baba’s good knitting holds fast even when the big brown bear barges in. I’ll let you read the book for yourself to find out how Nikki gets his mitten back.
The illustrations in this book are stunning with their intricate details. A neat feature of the illustrations is that Jan Brett placed a clue for what will happen next in the margin of each page. Sometimes my daughter likes to just look through the pictures and retell the story in her own words. This gave me an idea for a fun way to have her retell the story.
After our most recent reading of the book as part of our Advent Picture Book Tree, we threaded a felt mitten and used our Toob animals to retell the story. This is a great book to read with preschoolers and other young kids. Read it with your little ones and then try the retelling and threading craft described below.
- mitten printable (see link below)
- white felt (or whatever color desired)
- paper clips
While I completed the steps below to set up this felt mitten craft, I had Pooky skim the book again and list the animals in the story. Then she located her Toob animals to represent the ones in the story.
- Print the mitten on plain paper and cut it out to use as a template.
- Use the paper template to cut two mitten pieces out of felt.
- Attach the two felt “mittens” with paper clips.
- Use a marker to mark dots for threading. (I chose to space them roughly 1cm apart.) Don’t dot the bottom edge of the mitten.
- Use a sharp needle to “pre-drill” holes in the felt. This makes it possible for a child to use a safe plastic blunt tipped needle for the threading.
- Thread child’s needle.
- Tie a large knot at the end of the string.
- Start at the bottom of one side and demonstrate the threading process by doing the first few “stitches.”
Tips for threading the mitten:
- Have the child poke their blunt needle through the “pre-drilled” holes.
- Push the needle through one layer of felt at a time.
- Pull the thread all the way through each hole.
- Pull the thread slowly and gently to avoid knots.
- Remove paper clips as you progress around the mitten.
- If the child is losing interest, offer to take turns with the threading.
Tips for retelling the story:
- Gather your materials for retelling the story; felt mitten, animals (hedgehog, red fox, owl, hare, brown bear, badger, mouse, mole) and the book, The Mitten.
- Either slowly re-read the book or just look at the pictures while the child acts it out with the animals and the mitten.
- As the child adds each animal to the mitten, discuss its characteristics and see if the child can remember why the other animals made room for each new animal. (For example, the owl has sharp talons…)
- See if the child can tell how the animals got out of the mitten.
- Repeat story telling until the child can tell the important parts of the story without using the book.
- If you don’t have all the animals from the story, substitute a different animal and pretend. (We had to pretend our raccoon was the mole.)
- Don’t have Toob animals? You can order them through the link below. (We needed a couple different sets to get the majority of the animals listed in the story.) Or you can check the links below for ideas on ways to make the animals from the story.
- As an additional piece of this craft, have the child decorate the mitten.
Skills addressed with this craft:
- fine motor skills (threading)
- animal identification
- cause and effect
- print awareness (turning pages from right to left)
Purchase the book here. (affliliate link)
Purchase Toob animals here. (affiliate link)
Print Jan Brett’s mitten and paper animals here.
Or make story stones to retell the mitten as demonstrated by Mary at Fun A Day.
This post is a part of the monthly crafting book club hosted by Raising Fairies and Knights. To see other great winter book reviews and crafts that go with them, visit the links below.