With Easter just around the corner, I’d guess there are parents out there still thinking about what should accompany that Easter basket for a favorite toddler. Do I have ideas for you!!

NOAH’S ARK: Read the Story, Then Build Your Own Ark!

From Silver Dolphin publishers, Noah’s Ark is a 32-page, full-color picture and storybook written by Timothy Knapman and illustrated by Sean Sims. But that’s not all! The book is accompanied by a fold-out, build-it-yourself model of the Ark complete with press-out goats, steer, crocodiles, monkeys, pandas, zebras, kangaroos, and Noah’s family — 84 press-out model pieces in all.

After you read the story together with your child, you can help to assemble the Ark and then sit back and let the creativity begin. It’s a great way to learn a beloved Bible story! My only caution is that the set may not be appropriate for very young children, because both the Ark and the animals are made of a fairly thin cardboard which may not last long in little hands.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST:  Read the Fairy Tale, Then Play With Your Own Castle!

Another wonderful story! This version of Beauty and the Beast is chockful of strong values for children. Beauty’s father was “poor but hardworking.” Beauty kept her promise and returned to the castle, even though she worried about her father. And while she visited there with the Beast, what did they do? They danced, of course, but they also spent a lot of time in the library, reading books.

Once you finish reading the story, as the Prince and the Princess live happily ever after, there’s a beautiful castle to be built — complete with a ballroom, gargoyles, Beauty’s bedroom and, across the castle, Beast’s bedroom. Oh, the fun you can have!

ALL ABOARD THE PIRATE SHIP:  Read the Story, Then Stage Your Own Pirate Adventure!

One more build-it-and-play adventure for children! All Aboard the Pirate Ship is not a scary, bad-guy kind of story you might expect from pirates. In this book, the pirates live by a wholesome motto:  “Treasure first and friends forever!” Young Tommy Montgomery first encounters the pirates with their leader, Captain Cutlass, buying (not stealing) supplies for their adventure.

Welcomed aboard by the crew of the Pirate’s Revenge, Tommy learns how to hoist the sails, how to defend the ship from sea monsters, how to read a map and walk the plank, using it as a diving board. He even learns how to talk like a pirate. Arrrrrr! When Tommy swings down the ropes and knocks their competitor, Peg-Leg Pete, into the sea, Pete is happily rescued by his crew.

And then the work begins: Build the ship’s wheel, add paper sails, an anchor, ladder, cannons, barrels, and the ship’s crew, as well as the ship’s figurehead, and let the sea adventures commence!

Same warning as before: The models are so cute! But small children will need help with assembly, and the lightweight cardboard models will likely not survive hard play.