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Peta’s fun things to do at home

Hello! I have used my book, Jacob Starke Loves the Dark, as the starting-point for lots of different nature-related art and writing activities – particularly the bit when The Dark declares:

‘… Don’t you see,
All living things depend on me.’

Here is a version of an activity I’ve developed for schools:

16: How many ways can you describe a leaf*?

* or any other natural (or other) object!

This is all about thoroughly investigating a natural object and describing it in as many ways as possible. Get yourself a large piece of paper and…

  1. Write down some words that describe the leaf. Tip: think about all five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste (but only if it’s edible!)
  2. See how many ways you can describe the leaf ‘visually’. You could:
  • Draw it and/or paint it
  • Print with it – using paint or ink
  • Take an impression of it with silver foil or play dough
  • Do a ‘rubbing’ of it using a crayon or chalk
  • Do a collage of it
  • Photograph it
  • Crush the leaf into the paper to leave an impression!

These are just a few ideas – I’m sure you can think of more! I’d love to see anything you do – you can email a photo to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

Here’s my effort, but I’m sure you can do better!

Peta’s fun things to do at home

Welcome back! I’ve got a little book-themed word search for you today. It’s probably a bit tricky for very little people to do on their own, but something to do as a family, perhaps. Enjoy!

15: A book-themed word search

There’s a printable version here.

Can you find the following children’s books in the grid above? Some of them are famous, some of them are mine!

  1. Isabella Rotten Speller
  2. Winnie the Pooh
  3. The Gruffalo
  4. Hairy Fairy
  5. The Cat in the Hat
  6. Peter Pan
  7. The Niggle
  8. Matilda
  9. Dogs Don’t Do Ballet
  10. Mog
  11. Charlotte’s Web
  12.  Each, Peach, Pear, Plum
  13. Owl Babies
  14. Heidi

The solution is here.

Peta’s fun things to do at home

Good morning, and welcome to another week! Today, I thought I would share the very first activity I ever did on a school visit: my Hairy Fairy bookmark. I have done various versions of it – this one is nice and straightforward. Why not have a go?

Have fun! And don’t forget: I’d love to see anything you do – you can email a photo to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

14: Hairy Fairy bookmark

You will need:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Wool or string
  • Felt tips or crayons
  • Print-out of the template which you will find here. It works best if you can print out on to thin card, though it works ok with just paper. Or you can print out on paper and stick onto card before cutting out, if you want something more robust.

And this is what you do:

Peta’s fun things to do at home

The strange times we are currently living in have revealed some of the many superheroes living amongst us – whether these be key workers, Captain Tom Moore raising millions for the NHS to celebrate his one hundredth birthday, or the person in your street collecting prescriptions for her elderly neighbours.

I’ve always believed that we all have a superhero inside us, capable of great
bravery and selflessness – though sometimes we struggle to find it. In fact, this is what my book, The Niggle, is about: finding resilience. Resilience is a quality we all need at the moment!

13: Discover the Superhero inside yourself!

(As Heather Small almost said.)

The following is an activity I’ve done with a number of schools, hopefully helping children recognise some of their own inner strengths, as well as exercising their imaginations:

  • I get the children to think and talk about what they’re afraid of
  • I then get them think about the qualities they would need to overcome their fear. For example, for a fear of heights this might include everyday human qualities, like determination and bravery, or full-on superpowers, like being able to fly
  • I then get the children to draw the superhero inside themselves (or finish my superhero template)

I have a template for this activity (though you can equally well do it without!):

There is a printable version of the template here. Have fun! And don’t forget: I’d love to see anything you do – you can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

Peta’s fun things to do at home

Did you have a go at making a Scribble Monster or two after Monday’s post? (It’s here if you missed it.) If you did, you may, like me, have found it strangely addictive, and ended up with a whole bunch of monsters…

What’s the collective noun for a group of monsters? A roar? A scare? What do you think?

I’m now surrounded by Scribble Monsters. Which got me thinking about creating a story about them. Why don’t you have a go? And don’t forget: I’d love to see anything you do – you can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

12: Create a story about Scribble Monsters (and you don’t have to write a word, unless you want to!)

There are lots of different ways of creating a story:

  • Tell it! Talk about the characters and the adventures they might have ( you could video or record the story, if you like)
  • Draw it! As soon as you draw in a background behind the Scribble Monsters, you start telling a story about where they live and what they are doing. Or you can create a more detailed narrative, by creating a cartoon strip
  • Write it! Writing could be anything from single words – labelling a drawing, for example – to speech bubbles in a cartoon, or the more flowing narrative of a ‘traditional’ written story

Whichever way you decide to create your story, you might like to think about the following:

  • What are the monsters called?
  • What relationship do the monsters have to each other? Are they friends? Enemies? Strangers? Members of the same family? Or something else?
  • Are they goodies or baddies?
  • Where do they live? Maybe they live on a mysterious planet, with a mysterious name. Maybe they live in the fluff under your sofa. Maybe they live next door to you…
  • What language do they speak?
  • What adventure will they go on?

These are just some broad-brush ideas for creating a story. I will look at some of them in more detail in future posts. Have fun with your story making – and do please feel free to share your creations with me.

Peta’s fun things to do at home

Welcome to another week! I’ve got a really fun activity for you today, inspired by my book, Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes, which has the message that it’s ok to make mistakes. The activity is about turning scribbles into something beautiful. Warning: this can become a bit addictive!

Why not have a go? I’d love to see anything you do – you can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

11. Do the scribble challenge!

There’s nothing to it: get yourself a large piece of paper and draw a number of scribbles on it – leave a bit of space between each scribble.

There are lots of things you can do with a scribble:

  • Colour it in…
  • Turn it into a Scribble Monster! You can use some googly eyes, if you’ve got them, and cut out and stick on a scary mouth…
  • See what pictures you can make out of the scribbles you have drawn… I thought one of my scribbles looked like a dinosaur. I also used scribbles to draw a tree, someone with crazy hair and a sheep

It’s really good fun. Why not have a go!

Peta’s fun things to do at home

So, that’s the fourth week of lockdown almost done. As a gentle wind-down into the weekend, I thought it would be nice to get back to some straightforward drawing. My book, Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes is all about painting and drawing, and and why the process of drawing – practising, making mistakes and learning – is more important than the end result.

So why not get your little ‘uns to have a go at my drawing challenge? Why not have a go yourself? I’d love to see anything you do – you can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

10: Draw a picture in a frame!

I’ve got some frames for you to create your drawing in, because every picture looks better in a frame!

There’s a printable version here. Have fun and have a good weekend!

Peta’s fun things to do at home

9: Have fun with rhyming!

I’ve always loved rhyming! I remember writing silly poems and rhyming stories and plays when I was still at school. I like it when a rhyme takes a story or poem in an unexpected direction. My book Hairy Fairy was written in that way; the content of each section of the book is dictated by a word that rhymes with fairy, ie hairy, scary and wary.

A great way to get started with rhyming is to draw up a rhyming grid and go through the alphabet finding rhymes for your chosen word. Here’s a grid I’ve drawn up, with some words that have lots of rhymes:

There’s a printable version (with more space for writing!) here.

There are lots of extra challenges you can try once you’ve completed your grid (if you want to!)

  • spot the homophones! These are the words that sound the same, but have different spellings, eg: be and bee or see and sea.

  • use two of your rhyming words to write a rhyming couplet, eg:

The icy sea

Stings my knee.

  • If you are feeling confident, why not use more of the words to write a longer poem?

It was me

Who made the plea

For the bee

To leave the tree

And join us three

In time for tea.

It doesn’t matter how daft it is, just have fun!

Peta’s fun things to do at home!

8: Go on an alphabet treasure hunt!

As you know, my book, Isabella, Rotten Speller, is all about a land made entirely out of letters and this treasure hunt is a lockdown variation of an activity I’ve done with a number of schools. It’s a very easy, but fun activity: the challenge is to go round your house and/or garden and find objects in alphabetical order.

As an extension of the activity, you could:

  • List, photograph or draw each item
  • Make it competitive! Who can find an item for each letter first?

Here’s one I did earlier (had to cheat a bit on the x!):

Here’s an extra challenge you might like to try:

  • Use your objects to spell out words… like this:

Peta’s fun things to do at home

Welcome back! This activity has absolute nothing to do with any of my books, but just a bit of fun for Easter.

7: Make a woolly Easter/Spring card!

So, I had some yellow wool and fancied making something for Easter, but didn’t really want to make the standard pom-pom chick, when I had the idea of using wool as a medium for colouring in, instead of crayon or paint (as you do!)

My first idea was to do this ‘freehand’; painting with glue direct onto the blank card, but this does take a fair amount of manual dexterity and may be a bit tricky for little finger (I’ll show you how I did this at the end), so I produced a couple of templates for you to ‘colour in’ with wool (or crayons if you prefer). or, of course, you can draw your own…

The printable version of the bunny card is here. The printable version of the chick card is here.

You will need:

  • A print-out of the card or your own drawing
  • coloured wool or string
  • PVA or similar liquid glue
  • Scissors
  • Felt tips for details (optional)

And here is the chick version:

Top tip: if little fingers get gluey and find this all a bit tricky, try cutting the wool up into lots of little pieces (for a ‘shaggy’ effect!) – it’s a lot easier to handle than one long bit!

And for those who want an extra challenge, here’s how I made the ‘freehand’ version: