Do you have a child that wants to read the same stories over and over again or sings certain songs non-stop? I do, and it drives me insane. Old Macdonald has a Farm is the latest offender in our house (and car). Someone needed to turn that noisy tractor around and I found the thing to do just that …
We’ve all been there: your toddler keeps throwing the same book at you and you reluctantly agree. You feel bad because you know he only wants to be close to you and really, really loves that story. It’s only a story, it shouldn’t irritate you that much. Yet, you would rather eat nails than force the words you know by heart out again, and again. And again.
Now, let me tell you there is hope. There are ways to make this “phase” more bearable for everyone. Because if you have more than one child I know you know it goes from bad to worse real quick!
There are different tricks I have up my sleeve for when healthy story or song obsessions like these emerge. After all, I have about 5 years of experience in the area and remember our first episode vividly.
We were in Australia with our 20 month old daughter on a road trip through the desert from Alice Springs to Darwin. My daughter couldn’t get enough of the “wind the bobbin up” song and sang it nearly non stop for about 10 days.
Let that sink in a minute: three people, a campervan, a whole lot of desert and one song, on repeat. It was intense. Let’s say I had to get creative real quick before the campervan got too small for the three of us.
Old Macdonald had a Farm Story Basket
The trick is to change things up a bit. And there are many ways to go about that.
The one thing that is always a winner in our house is the story basket. Story baskets are irresistible: children are dying to know what’s in there, even when they know the story better than the author! Story baskets also offer the opportunity to expand on the story, to make it open ended. And that is where you want to go: above and beyond the same old same old. Give children a chance to become part of the story and let them take it anywhere they want.
And boom, just like that you have successfully fixed the broken record and saved your family’s sanity. And possibly your marriage too.
Now, let’s have a quick look at what happened to our story basket and just how exactly things can evolve.
Old Macdonald had a Farm Small World
My two year old wasted no time unceremoniously dumping the contents of the story basket onto the carpet. Go figure. I got the book out and asked him if he recognised the picture. He immediately put two and two together linking the song to the storybook and the figurines and props in the story basket.
Together we started constructing old Macdonald’s farm.
I have this play mat we often use for small world play (which is the prototype for this popular play mat in my Etsy shop) and which was the perfect backdrop for our story that day. Fear not, you can easily use some simple coloured fabric scraps, play silks, towels, blankets or even clothes as improvised play mats.
It was a lot of fun to discover what kind of animals were living on this old Macdonald’s farm. It was also a fun game to play hide and seek with some of the animals. At some stage a few dinosaurs even made it into the paddock and the ducks got banished by the cow. Mrs Macdonald had some trouble keeping the sheep together and the spider gave the horse a huge fright. Good times.
Our story basket turned into full on Old Macdonald had a Farm small world play that invited my 2 year old by to completely lose himself in his favourite song. No stones were left unturned in his exploration!
The story basket and old Macdonald small world worked wonders in learning my child that there is more to a story than just the song or the book.
And while were very grateful for that, there are other ways to engage in creative storytelling, see my Pinterest board for the most popular storytelling activities of last few years.
Here are a few of my absolute favourites:
- Nursery Rhyme Sorting Activity by Munchkins and Moms
- Putting the STEAM into The Little Engine That Could by Sugar, Spice and Glitter
- Goodnight Gorilla Basket by Little Worlds Big Adventures (tooting my own horn)
- Mouse Shapes Learn to Spell your Name by Growing Book by Book
- Little Blue Truck Sensory Bin by Sunny Day Family
- Hairy Maclary colouring pages Small World by Little Worlds Big Adventures (again!)
- Storytelling with Finger Puppets by Playground Parkbench
What stories or songs do your children get stuck with? And how have you been managing? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
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