books,  games

Picture Books about Magical Sea Adventures, and the games the books can turn into.

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Magical Sea Adventure stories and games to play after reading them.

I love approaching things from multiple points of view. I love cooperative games and activities, and encouraging the children in divergent thinking and problem solving, and I love looking for activities that will work with a variety of ages. So I was pleased the other day to find that these three books inspired some creative fun, and I thought I’d share our ideas with you. Links are affiliate links.

A Sea-Wishing Day

– written by Robert Heidbreder and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

This story in verse tells a child’s imagined adventure ending with the child asserting:

But Skipper and I,
We’ve both been to sea,
So know the sea’s near
When you want it to be.

One of the details I found interesting was the term Larboard, which is an older alternative to the word “port” and the opposite of “starboard”. I love the graphics – Kady MacDonald is one of my favorite kid’s illustrators – but as a poem I felt it didn’t convey as much as a story might until I realized it could be recited as a poem, without pictures but acted out or mimed. Suddenly it becomes a game.

Jack and the Flumflum Tree

– by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts.

The verses in this book are longer than those of A Sea Wishing Day, and the story seems more complete. Here the child Jack and his crew must travel to the Flumflum tree to bring back a fruit that will cure his grandmother. He’s given a patchwork sack with seemingly random items which each solve one problem the children encounter. This book lends itself very, very easily to play. Gather a sack full of supplies or write out a list of imagined items, then take turns describing how the items come in use with whatever obstacles you can dream up. An extra bonus with this book is that the picture just inside the cover has hidden in it all the items the children receive!

Some obstacles to get you started:

  • an area with no wind. (Do you have something to get you moving OR something to help you pass the time?)
  • a pirate ship sailed by a crew of cats, ready to capture your ship.
  • a little raft, abandoned but with a locked chest.

The Legend of the Golden Snail

– by Graeme Base.

Here again you have a child going off on an imaginary adventure.  The story itself is more complicated and developed than A Sea Wishing Day. The boy is trying to reenact the legend of the golden snail (the story of which is told in a tiny book embedded at the beginning of the bigger book) only to discover he’s not as heartless as the hero of the legend and to shape his own ending. There is also a fairy-tale aspect to the story where the boy provides assistance a number of times and then when he runs into trouble those he helped return to help him. The pictures are splended paintings and there is a particular emblem hidden within each of them. Identify the location of the emblem on his webpage for a little treat.

The beginning of the book shows the child at his home and then you can see how the different obstacles he encounters are inspired by things from his house. This book too can inspire a game, where children are on a magical journey. Take turns pointing to items within the house, and making up what kind of little obstacle that object could inspire. (Could a piano be a row of music rocks, perhaps thrown out of order by a recent storm? Could a bookshelf be a group of squabbling pirates all competing to see which holds the best story?)


And of course what goes with magical sea adventure games better than some ocean poetry?

Are there books that inspire your children’s play? Are there games you play with them?
Share your stories and ideas in the comments section please!

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  • sherrill cannon

    I’ve found you through the blog-hop – although I’m not sure which of the books you are promoting? All of them look interesting. (You might check the spelling of inspire, since it’s written “inpsire” in your heading. Forgive me, I’m a compulsive proof-reader!)

    • ChristyK

      Oh what a silly typo on my part. I’ll fix that quickly, thanks for pointing it out.

      I’m not really concerned with promoting any of the books in particular. I borrowed all of them from my local library, and just thought I’d share the ideas for games. I like how in some ways the books are very similar, all about different children imagining an adventure and yet they approach things differently. For one the obstacles are very silly and based off of the objects around the house. For one the obstacles are more stereotypical and the solutions based off of what one has. I like the idea of approaching things from different views – when you invent a game or a story, do you start with the problems or from the solutions?

  • Destiny

    I think that once my daughter is just a mite bit older she’ll enjoy playing games based on books. Right now she likes to talk about playing with various characters from books–so I think we’ll be there soon! Books about boats seem like good choices for inspiring games and imaginative play. So much opportunity for adventure.

    Thank you for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  • Jennifer Saarinen

    Great books. My kids have shelves full of books and love story time at the library. When I read to them I love doing silly voices and such. My 5 year old LOVES it. Thanks for sharing on my Just for Kids link-up. I’ve pinned your post to our group board. Hope to see you again next week 🙂

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