The Gruffalo - Outdoor Play Trail

We are huge fans of Julia Donaldson's books in this house! Minnie's favourite character though has to be the Gruffalo! We read this nearly every night (I say we read, I used to read it to Minnie, but now she can recall most of the story & reads it to me!) She loves to act out the story at home, & has perfected a rather impressive Gruffalo roar!!


As I was sorting out my face-paints yesterday Minnie asked if she could have her face painted as a Gruffalo! Eeek! I came up with this Gruffalo-ish face, & her next request was to go outside & be a Gruffalo!


As she grabbed her wellies, I collected her toy owl, snake, & fox puppet, & we headed for the door. Just before we stepped out she popped back to collect more toys & then off we set.

We're really fortunate to have a wooded area near us & love exploring it throughout the year. However today was the first time that I'd been accompanied by a Gruffalo, & it was so funny to see peoples reactions to Minnie as she strolled along beside me!

As we walked along a small path in the wood we left a trail of toy animals hidden en route so that we could find them when we followed the trail later. When they were all hidden we walked along the path again, this time with Minnie acting out the story of The Gruffalo!


She started the trail pretending to be the mouse from the story & was so excited to find the fox we'd left earlier!


Then she headed off to find the owl, recalling the story as she went. She couldn't wait to recount all the Gruffalo's features (orange eyes, purple prickles, terrible teeth in his terrible jaws, etc) & tell each toy just what the Gruffalo's favourite food was eg; roasted fox, owl ice-cream & scrambled snake!  (When each toy was discovered they were greeted with a hug & then placed back down where she had found them.)


Soon snake was discovered, along with a toy badger, 2 toy birds & Pudsey bear!! (Minnie had added these earlier!) Then it was time for Minnie to became the Gruffalo & she retraced her steps back along the path.



Oh help! Oh no! This Gruffalo was on a mission to roar her loudest as she found each creature in the deep dark wood! Minnie continued to retell the story using different voices & movements for the animals (mouse had small, quick movements & a high voice, & the Gruffalo ran & jumped along the trail with a deep, loud voice). As Minnie the Gruffalo met the animals, she collected them & passed them to the mouse (which Minnie requested I be!)


This was such a great way to recall & explore a familiar story, the individual characters, & various emotions. Playing a character enabled Minnie to step inside the narrative & push the story in different directions creating new scenarios & possibilities. The great thing about this activity is that children can explore the story in a way which is relevant to them.

As we headed home we discovered that even a Gruffalo enjoys jumping in muddy puddles too!


If you fancy making a Gruffalo trail like this one, why not print off pictures of the animals from the story, or invite children to draw them, & place them around the garden, or house. If your child doesn't enjoy having their face painted, how about making your own Gruffalo mask (or you could use the template here).




18 comments:

  1. Oh Catherine, I love this, the Gruffalo is my favourite too and I was so excited to meet 'him' at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year! This is a brilliant idea & I would love to have seen the facesof the people you met! Thanks so much for joining in the outdoor play link up, Kierna

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  2. Fabulous activity and a great way to bring the book to life

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  3. Adorable!! and a great way to get outside at this time of year. We are also BIG into the Gruffalo all of a sudden in this house! C would love that face painting!

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  4. Cool! Great idea. We love the Gruffalo! Will try this.

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  5. By the way that Gruffalo face painting is very impressive!

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  6. We have never read The Gruffalo, but now I want to find it at the library. What a brilliant idea to take the story outside for dramatic play. Very impressive face painting! Thank you for linking up at The Outdoor Play Party! I am sharing this on my Facebook Page, The Golden Gleam.

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  7. Oh my gosh, this is so wonderful! We are huge Gruffalo fans too and I've been dying to have a Gruffalo birthday party (already been researching supplies in anticipation of NEXT year's birthdays! haha!). And I am super impressed with your face painting skills! (Wanna come to our party next year as our guest face painter? ;-p )

    Thanks for linking this up to the Outdoor Play Party!

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  8. That face is impressive! What fun. We love taking books and then expanding on them with play or outdoor learning. I will have to check out this book and this author!
    Thanks so much for sharing this on the outdoor play party!

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  9. Rediscovering your site again (from a link up ) and just love your ideas. Also will be looking for the Gruffalo book at the library. I will be revisiting your Festival and Celebrations page many time, especially as you have earth day. Cheers. P.S. Where do you live? I am in Australia.

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  10. This is fabulous and could be done with lots of loved children's stories! I love love love the Gruffalo! :)

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  11. This looks like loads of fun! Funny - just been thinking the last week or so about setting up a Gruffalo walk for my son who is currently obsessed & his Pre-school friends. i thought of somehow making his Little Brown mouse toy into a puppet that we could accompany on the walk

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  12. How fun! We love the Gruffalo!

    Thanks for linking up to Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles =)

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  13. We LOVE acting out our favorite books! It's one of our favorite past times.. and it always involves a ton of giggles. I adore that she came up with this! And that is some seriously impressive face painting! What kind of face paint do you use? What do you use to apply it? If you don't mind me asking, of course.

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  14. Love the face painting! You've inspired me to check these books out of the library. Thanks again for linking up to the Weekly Kid's Co-op Playdate!

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  15. We found this book at the library and are loving it! Thanks so much for the recommendation. Did you see you are featured over at Mama PeaPod?! Woohoo! Great post!!

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  16. I saw this a while back and meant to comment - this is absolutely AMAZING! You have such great face painting skills and what an awesome awesome idea to bring the book to life! We love the book and read it almost every day. My kids would flip for this. Maybe we can hire you for our next birthday party :-)

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  17. Great facepaint love it (saw it on snazaroo) Congrats xx Defo reckon my little one will want to be a gruffalo too now x

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