Picture Book and Play – Construction Site

Picture Book And Play is a weekly post in which we look at a picture book (or books) Peapod’s been enjoying recently and some of the play we’ve had based on it.

Peapod has been mad on playing with his builders recently so this is the first of a building site double over the next two weeks!

Yes, that is a Tool Station catalogue – nothing like a bit of ‘real life’ print! In fact, it was that rather than one of his picture books that triggered this interest in his building toys again, as he went and got his toolbox after seeing the hammers and drills in here!

He’s also enjoyed the Let’s Pretend Builders Toolkit which has pop out tools that he likes to get out and pretend to use.

I pushed plastic golf tees a little way into a box then left them out with his hammer.

This is one of those activities though that requires a bit of realism on our part; Peapod enjoyed it but it’s very much a short-bursts, short-lived one – he returned to it a few times a day over a couple of days for a few mins at a time. So don’t go expecting it to fill an hour, but since it takes no time at all to set up it’s all good, and great for hand-eye coordination and motor skills too!

A more long-lived activity, and probably Peapod’s favourite of those we’ve done, was his construction site tray. Peapod loved playing with “Orange Bear” when we had the snow in his tray, so I ordered a couple more of the diggers in that range and set them up in his tray.

We had this out for a good week and it was probably the most played with thing in that time. He spent hours here (and although the tray’s changed now, he is still playing with the diggers).

We used lots of modelling and his books to help extend his play and language in here. His favourite book to use was definitely Busy Building Site – he’s looked at this over and over again! He loves the flaps and the central character of ‘Builder Barney’ who takes us through a build from start to finish.

It’s a great book with lots of flaps to lift that help show the processes on the site; simple rhyming text to help talk us through it; ‘sound effects’ written on to engage and join in with; and, most importantly, lots of age-appropriate technical vocabulary labelling items on the pages.

Peapod has loved finding out what everything is called, matching it to his own toys where he has them, finding out what the builders are doing abd acting it out in his tray – he particularly likes digging foundations!

We adapted it as we went, adding in this ‘rubbish chute’ and ‘skip’ for example, and while he loved the pebbles and corks, he didn’t touch the bobbins despite us modelling them so I took those out. And Peapod chose to bring his other builders and people into it.

We’re also reading ‘Dig, Dig, Digging’ by Margaret Mayo and Alex Ayliffe most days and he likes to match the vehicles in the book to his own toy ones.

While it doesn’t explicitly say its poetry, I don’t know what else you’d call each short rhythmic passage – one for each vehicle, filled with onomatopoeia, repetition and action. A perfect, slightly surreptitious introduction to poetry!

As well as matching his vehicles to the images in the book, he also likes to bring them over to match to his jigsaws!

And of course, it wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t include one of the duds – this week play dough!

I made playdough and put it out with his tools, with the idea of making prints – hammering, drilling, screwing into it etc. – and while he did do this for all of two minutes, the dough quickly became a cake and the screws candles! He enjoyed it and that’s the main thing 😂

Join us next week for more building-themed stories and play!

What have you been reading and playing this week?

Picture Book and Play – At the Vet

Picture Book & Play is a new weekly post (moving to a Friday from next week!) in which we look at a picture book (or books) Peapod’s been enjoying recently and some of the play we’ve had based on it.

If you and your little ones do similar bookish play, we’d love you to join in with Picture Book & Play and to let us know what you’ve been reading and playing too!

It’s a short one this week – we’ve kept it really simple with some vets role play, which Peapod loves.

I’ve written before (many times but in more detail here and here) about how much Peapod loves the Mog books by Judith Kerr, so for Christmas he got a couple of new Mog books including Mog and the V.E.T., which he loves; he thinks its so funny calling the vet the V – E – T!

Mog gets a thorn stuck in her paw and has to go to the vet (or the V- E – T as they have to be called due to how much Mog hates going) Of course, Mog not being a fan of the vet means chaos ensues and Peapod thinks it’s great fun seeing the animals run wild and the vet fall over! As funny and expressive as you’d expect from Mog!

Mog at the V – E – T! (The laundry basket is the car taking her there of course!)

As we’ve been reading it again recently, we’ve been using the Dr’s set and pet care set he also got for Christmas to play vets.

We’ve also used the brilliant ‘Busy Vets’ to help introduce the idea and talk about who might be at the vets, which animals we might see there, what the vet might need to do etc.

The Busy range of board books are so great for this – Peapod loves the moving parts, there’s lots to talk about with illustrations that are lively but informative and questions and captions to extend on the simple rhyming text.

We don’t have pets so this has been a great introduction to some otherwise unknown concepts for Peapod.

Peapod likes to be the “vesinny (veterinary) nurse” and specialises in putting on plasters (it doesn’t matter what animal it is or what ails them – a plaster is the cure!) and the fact that they’re a bit fiddly and great for fine motor skills is an added bonus!

He’s got a little notebook which he likes to record the animals he’s seen in – great for getting a bit of mark making in!

Even unicorns are treated at our vets (with plasters of course!)

Are there any favourite vet or pet themed picture books in your house?

What have you been reading and playing this week?

Peapod’s Picks – Holiday Reads 2

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read each week.

*His social media alter ego, not his real name!

Last week I posted the first of our Holiday Reads posts looking at the picture books we read on holiday. This week, it’s a round up of the board books we took.

That’s Not My Plane by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells


Of course we had to take this one for the plane! This series remains a firm favourite, and with its shiny windows, sparkly propeller and lumpy, metallic engines this one was lots of flashy fun!

Busy Holiday by Sebastien Braun

With scenes showing a family packing and getting in the car, at the beach, on a campsite and at a funfair, there’s something for all types of holiday here and plenty to spot on each page. There’s so much going on in the illustrations, older children will have fun spotting the yellow bird on each page as well as being able to notice some of the smaller, background activities too – things that have been dropped or forgotten or animals peeking out from unexpected places, for example.

There is of course the ‘push, pull, slide’ moving parts too, perfect for toddlers – more interesting and trickier than simple lift the flap or touch and feel, but durable and sturdy enough to withstand young reader’s handling! It’s a bit hard for Peapod still, but he’s starting to give it a go and likes it when we make them move.

This will be coming on many more holidays in the future!

Baby’s Very First Slide and See – Under the Sea by Stella Baggott and Josephine Thompson


We love the bright colours, bold illustrstions and bumpy textures in this one. Peapod loves hearing us make the noises on each page – “wheeeee!”, “click, click”, “wobble, wobble”, “swoosh!” etc. – and is just getting the hang of moving the sliding parts.

With minimal text, including “hello…” and simple questions, this series is perfect for Peapod now. A big thumbs up from us!

My First Touch and Find – Sea by Allison Black


This was another big hit. The illustrations are bright and appealing, with lots of colourful underwater goings on.

There’s a touch and feel element to each page, reminiscent of the That’s Not My… style, but with more going on in the book overall – there’s simple, repetitive text “Flip the flap. What’s that?” that older toddlers will be able to join in with and older children could read themselves, as well as a question on each page about something from the page before encouraging lots of observation and talk.

The lift the flap element is brilliant as the ‘flaps’ are actually shaped pages with cut outs to peel through too. Sturdier than normal flaps and creating extra interest with the holes these went down really well with Peapod. Brilliant.

This is another series we’ll be buying more of.

Squeaky Baby Bath Book – At the Beach


Its waterproof pages mean this is perfect for taking with you on a trip to the seaside. With things you’re likely to see (dolphin aside), it’s good for vocabulary and naming things and the squeaky seagull on the last page is lots of fun. This was pretty much the only thing Peapod enjoyed about the beach!

Mini Mondays

As I may have mentioned (you know, just once or twice..) I’m finding it hard to find enough time to read, let alone review anything since Peapod made his entrance into the world.

Last week, I saw this post from BookBairn and it gave me the idea of ‘Mini Mondays’ – can’t promise I’ll manage it every week, but I’m going to try!

mini mondays

So every (most/some) Monday(s) I’ll do a ‘Mini Mondays’ review post where I’ll try and give a briefer than usual (cheer here) review of a few books. If you fancy doing your own Mini Monday reviews, leave a link in the comments (feel free, but don’t feel obliged, to use my rather amateurish little logo thing!) 🙂

This week…

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First Facts and Flaps: Giant Dinosaurs, illustrated by Naray Yoon

Campbell’s range of board books are always a hit – bright and bold, informative, with just the right amount of text and plenty of interactive features this is no different.

Each Dino is introduced with a full page illustration and rhyme, with lots of short, simply-worded, interesting and unusual facts clearly laid out on the facing page, accompanied by bold subheadings to draw you in.

There’s plenty to keep young fingers busy too with flaps to lift, a wheel to turn and change the pictures with and a brilliant fold out spread at the back.

Fun and engaging, with attractive illustrations with just the right level of detail – this is a fabulous book for young dinosaur fans. There’s an Amazing Animals in the series too, which I’ll definitely be picking up and hopefully there’ll be others to follow!

Thanks to Macmillan Kids for my copy.

All About Families by Felicity Brooks

With cheerful, detailed and appealing illustrations from Mar Ferrero and a clear, uncluttered layout, this is a lovely look at families in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Both in illustration and text, care has been taken to make this a truly diverse and inclusive book. Not only does it feature a wide range of family set ups but people from all walks of life – there’ll be someone in here that every reader relates to.

Good use of labels, speech bubbles and captions crams in plenty of clear, concise information in an engaging way that stops it from feeling overloaded.

Perfect for ks1 ‘about me’/’family’ topics or PSHE work, as well as a great resource to encourage talk (the pictures alone give a wealth of things to chat about) when read independently at school or shared at home.

Thanks to Usborne for my copy.

Oi Duck-Billed Platypus by Kes Gray and Jim Field

If you don’t already know how much I love this series, see this post on Oi Cat! I was so excited for this 4th installment and was a fan before it even arrived (it’s pink and it has a platypus in!) Even better – I won my copy (thanks Hachette Kids!)

Here we meet a selection of animals with very hard to rhyme names causing quite the headache for Frog, Dog and Cat as they dish out the rules on where everyone should sit! With the usual combination of Jim Field’s characterful illustrations and Kes Gray’s hilarious text, it’s as clever, fast and funny as the first 3 and an exuberant addition to one of my favourite picture book series.

Grandma Bird by Benji Davies

Benji Davies is another author/illustrator I love (I thought I’d reviewed his last picture book ‘The Grotlyn’ but haven’t – such an oversight, it’s wonderful!) His newest book, Grandma Bird, is a return to Noi (of The Storm Whale)’s world and is just as gentle, cosy and warm as both Storm Whale books.

Noi is off to stay with Grandma (who is fantastic – she’s guaranteed to make you smile!) on her tiny, isolated island. With imagination, freedom, wild adventure, dark caves and island life, this is a hug of a book full of accepting things we’re unsure of and of friendship, love and family.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my copy!