There are so many wonderful books and stories that I love to bring out and read every winter. The old Ukrainian folk tale, “The Mitten” has many different versions, but it is basically about a bunch of animals who find shelter in a lost mitten.
As a teacher and mom, I have read this story countless times over the years and children always love it and are engaged as they listen.
I wanted to try something new with the story this year and not only read the story to the children, but also do a follow up hands-on activity with them. This activity worked perfectly!
I have two ways that I have introduced the story to my students over the years. Both ideas are described below. Reading “The Mitten” aloud and then following up with this activity was great for story retelling.
I have included a free printable of a bunch of different animals that you can use for your mitten activity. There are many versions of the book, so select animals that fit the book you select. You can also make the story up a bit by including whatever animals you think the children would be interested in.
- The Mitten – A Copy of the Story
- A Mitten for Each Child
- Pictures of the Animals from the Story – Link to FREE printable at bottom
- Other Story Props – A small house, wooden people, loose string/wool (For Story Play)
Before cutting out the pictures of the animals, I laminated the sheet. The activity will still work if you don’t laminate the sheets, but if you can it is best. Laminating it allows the children to put the animals in the mitten and take them out without them ripping. They also last a lot longer so you can use them time and time again.
There are two possible suggestions I have for reading/introducing the story of “The Mitten”, a read aloud and a story play.
The Mitten Read Aloud
The easiest option for introducing the story is showing children the cover of the book and having them make predictions about what they think the book is going to be about.
Before reading, mention to children that they will be doing a retell activity after the story is done, so make sure to listen carefully and try to keep in mind the order that the animals are introduced. Then read the book aloud.
The Mitten Story Play
When I did read the story to my class, and my kids at home, I created a story play and presented it in this unique way.
A story play is basically a story presented using small props and characters for each part of the book. The story is read aloud, but instead of the pictures of the book being shown, children watch as the book is ‘acted’ out in front of them using the props.
I created each of the animals from “The Mitten” by sewing them. I don’t usually sew, but I have taken up sewing a bit after I couldn’t find pieces/props for the story plays that I do.
The animals are not perfect, but I like the handmade look to them and the children that I work with love it either way.
You don’t need to take up sewing to create a story play. You could even use stuffed animals or simply the pictures of the animals that I have included for this activity.
Simply set a cloth on the carpet in front of the children and move the props around as you read the story. Children will love watching you bring the story to life.
When I presented the story as a story play, I added some extra yarn inside my mitten before I began the story. When it was time for the mitten to pop open, all of the yarn came out and looked like the mitten had broken apart.
Once you have shared the story with the children, it is time for their hands-on follow up activity.
Story Retell Activity
To prepare for the activity, cut out the animal cards that you need from your story. Next, place the cards in a small plastic bag and add a small mitten to each bag.
Give each child a bag, and give them a few minutes to explore what is inside. Next, depending on the age of the children, you can briefly retell the story with them. As each animal crawls into the mitten in the story, children put that animal into their mitten.
If you are working with older children, encourage them to retell the story on their own and recall the order of the animals.
Once children have put all of the animals into their mitten, on the last animal they can turn their mitten inside out and have all of the animal cards pop out – just like in the story.
“The Mitten” is a wonderful story and trying this hands-on activity is a fun way have children do a story retell.
Another option to try is once children have retold the story a few times independently, they can try presenting the story to a friend.
Children loved retelling the story to their peers. They used voices and pretended that some of the animal pictures were really big, like the actual animal, so they pretended it was hard to get the animal in the mitten.
There was so much learning and engagement during the activity and I think the story has become some of my students new favorites as well as mine.
FREE Animal Printable
The animals shown in this post, and used for the activity, are available for you to download today. To receive the printable, subscribe to Hands-On Teaching Ideas and receive access to my Free Resource Library for members.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
Looking for more learning activities for kids at home or school? Below is a collection of my favourite, and most popular hands-on activities, from outdoor activities and building challenges to escape rooms and story plays, I’ve got lots of ideas to keep kids busy and learning.