It’s the first day of the summer holidays here so of course it’s been raining all day. We needed an indoors activity that would help burn off some energy and Oliver Jeffers’ How to Catch a Star provided inspiration for the perfect one.
In How to Catch a Star, we meet a boy who decides he would like ‘a star of his very own’ as a friend. The boy waits patiently all day for the stars to come out and when they do, tries all manner of ways to get to the sky and catch a star, from jumping and tree climbing to, my personal favourite, taking his spaceship, which is sadly out of petrol.
Jeffers’ distinctive illustrations make this such a memorable read; I love the use of colour and shadow while the shapes have really captured my eldest daughter’s attention. She’s endlessly fascinated by the illustration of the boy as he is eating his lunch; his usually round head is instead presented in a Pacmanesque open-mouthed pose and something about that change just grabs her every time! The story itself is a firm favourite and I’ve a feeling after the fun we had with it today, it’ll be more in demand than ever.
What did we do?
I gathered How to Catch a Star, the girls and a glow in the dark star in one place, popped the star onto the ceiling and let semi-organised chaos commence as they tried to figure out how to ‘catch’ the star. This is a great activity for creative problem-solving with children and has made me eager to set up more things like it.
The girls began, predictably, with stretching, reaching and jumping. They graduated to running jumps, then, when we talked about things that fly, enlisted Super Girl, then Super Girl riding on a dragon (who some of you may recognise from my The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water post). Super Girl on the dragon was my two-year-old’s idea and my personal favourite moment of this whole endeavour.
Taking inspiration from the book, the eldest wanted to try a rocket and built a pretty tall one herself, but even holding it up and standing on her tip toes, it still wasn’t quite there! That’s when we moved on to towers. After various rickety, unsuccessful attempts and some spectacular topples, we finally cracked it and caught our star.
How did it go?
As you can probably tell already, it went brilliantly and occupied us completely for about 20 minutes. Honestly, it may well have been longer; time just flew.
There was plenty of prancing around, problem solving, lateral thinking and laughter. Loads of toys made appearances, entirely led by the kids and the things they felt were relevant and necessary. There’s plenty of scope to do this again with more planning and involve different materials to build structures and ‘flying’ contraptions. We’ll definitely be catching more stars in the future.
How can you use this?
- Is there a problem your book’s characters solve? Could you replicate it?
- If not, could you create a relevant problem and allow your readers to solve it?