The Traveling Spark Station-Pretend play ideas for children

by Mary Ann on May 10, 2011

beautiful small girl picture

Mary playing “dress up”

I did something SCARY for the Traveling Spark Station. I have done crafts, sewing, cake decorating, gardening; you name it with hundreds of kids. Here is what I haven’t done, play; you know the pretend kind of play.

bee frog dress up pictures

                         1.Lady bugs and bees                                 2.Jack the frog, catching flies with his tongue

When I was young I imagined just like any other child. But by the time I was 14 I had completely stopped pretending. I would construct fabulous play spaces for my siblings and then I would let them play.

My children loved to engage in imaginative play. I watched them and enjoyed it very much but I didn’t enter the game. I’m not sure why that was.

preschoolers books pictures

Little Mary was excited over the books

So I thought I would give it a try. The only things in the Traveling Spark Station were books that could be play acted and numerous large squares of material, and some play ideas for children in my brain. I was worried the last few days before grandma school. After all the oldest child was only 5. How was it going to go?

When I put the Spark Station tub on the floor Mary squealed over the book “The Little Red Hen

cat dress up pictures

If you are a cat it must be the Cat in the Hat!

Then we all sat down on the floor and read the Little Red Hen. Then we did a Little red hen activity, we acted it out. Maggie was the hen. Jack was the cat and insisted that he had to

little red hen play pictures

The Little Red Hen taking wheat to the mill

have whiskers and his Cat in the Hat hat. All the other children just wanted to watch. I began telling the story, helping Maggie (who has cerebral palsy) act out her part. “Then the little red hen asked the cat, will you help me plant my grain.” “Sure”, Jack replied.

Jack the cat said sure to every duty until the hen asked him to help take the grain to the mill. “No, I have to stay here with my mother”. It was hard keeping a straight face. Well, the bread was finally made and the red hen and the black cat cut it in half and shared the whole loaf. The end. It was a great play!

We had bread and butter for a snack. Jodie asked them if they would like to make some butter. (Totally unplanned) Would they! So while she got the stuff together we played “Black Bear Hunts for Grubs”.

kids stone dress up picture

Maggie the silver rock, Jack the green rock, Oaklen the red rock, Aunt Kate the gold rock

That is a game I made up on the spot. All the children crouched down with some corn puffs under their bellies and covered up with a square of material. The big black bear (me draped in black) sniffed and roared and clawed around the “stones”. When I found a stone I liked I turned it over and tried to steal the grubs underneath. There was a lot of squealing and laughing.

antique butter churn picture

Making butter in grandmas churn

Then off to the kitchen to make butter. We used my grandmother’s old hand crank butter churn. While the children were taking turns churning I read them The Story of Little Black Sambo

Then we read The Three Little Pigs

Then we read Jack and the Beanstalk

We were still churning and I said, “We are all going to turn grey before this cream turns into butter!” When the butter was finally done Jack went to his mother and in a very disappointed tone said, “I wanted to turn grey.” I powdered his hair so he could be grey like grandma but he looked up at me and said, “I wanted my whole body to be grey.” You never know what kids are thinking when they hear adults talk.

grandma kid wrestling picture

Wrestling with Buzz Lightyear and sweating!!!

Jodie took over the churning and we all trooped back into the family room to play Buzz Lightyear. I was Zurg. I asked Jack to pass me the gold cloth and discovered that he didn’t know what gold looked like. A new word learned. I was a terrific Zurg but I kept getting lasered to death by Jack and Oaklan, both Buzz Lightyears. I didn’t have a chance.

As I lay dead they crept up to check me out and a terrific wrestling match ensued. I grabbed all the children and tussled them about amid flailing arms and legs and lots of giggles. I was sweating. Hey, grandmothers aren’t supposed to sweat!

Here is a pictorial of our butter adventure.

First we tried doing it the “right” way. Then we opted for a more modern tool.

butter making process pictures

Butter making adventure

And then we opted for an even larger and more powerful tool. Sigh, back to the “right” way and finally BUTTER!

grandma school picture

Quiet reading

We ended grandma school by reading three classic tales. We all needed the rest. Little Red Riding Hood

Here is a lesson learned. The younger the child the more engagement they need from the adult to play with plain squares of material! Let’s get some 8, 9 and 10 year olds to come over next time! : )

baby eating cream picture

Mary enjoying the cream

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