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International Children's Book Day: The Ugly Duckling

International Children's Book Day was yesterday, as was Autism Awareness Day (April is also Autism Awareness month).  

International Children's Book Day was selected as April 2nd because it was Hans Christian Anderson's Birthday (FYI - Anderson was Danish. Maybe you knew, but just in case). 

In honor of the day and him, I checked The Ugly Duckling out of the library -- his version and a version by Rachel Isadora, an author that lived in West Africa for 10 years and sets her book there. The artwork is really compelling and really engaged my toddler, Sky. 

As I was reading The Ugly Duckling to him, I was struck with how relevant it was as a book for Autism Awareness Day. This classic tale of a duckling that feels "ugly" because he is different, but grows up to realize he is beautiful because he is a swan,or a "special duck" in toddler talk, is an important tale to continue sharing. The message that different is not ugly. Rather, different is special resonates. 

We attempted a duck art activity after we read the book. It was the first time we had ever used fingerpaint. For a boy that loves to throw dirt, but hates "messes," the painting took a lot of encouragement from mommy and a lot of mommy painting alongside him. Here's what we did:  

Initially, I set up in the kitchen: cotton balls, glue (in a yogurt cup), fingerpaint and two pieces of paper (each with a rough drawing of a duck).
The idea was to dip the cotton balls in the fingerpaint, then dip them in the glue and paste them on. My toddler was not so into feeling sticky paint or glues, we abandoned the cotton balls pretty quickly and just went into straight up fingerpainting, which he did a little reluctantly. 
Baby brother, however, had no hesitations at all about getting into the mix with the fingerpaint with the cereal boxes provided - I guess I can add "paint canvas" to my popular list of Ten Cereal Box crafts.
To make the "ugly" duckling, we ventured outside. In both versions of the book that we read, the "ugly" duckling was an ashy grey. So, I thought dirt covered cotton balls would be a good idea. Sky liked throwing them in the dirt.

He also didn't seem to mind adding some glue on top of them and throwing some dirt on them. After that, though, he decided he'd rather "chase" the birds.
And play with his truck.
So, I added the cotton balls to what we had painted already in the kitchen.

What I ended up loving about this duck was that Sky decided to put a bit of blue on the duck's face -- a happy coincidence since many people are "lighting it up blue" for Autism Awareness this month. (My intention was that only the water would be blue). I also loved that his picky finger strokes ended up creating these great eyes and great expression on the duck's face.

I hope you like our ducks. Just in case you're not convinced, here's a couple of other non-art duck activity ideas: visit your local duckpond (this is one of Sky's favorite free outings that we do) or play with rubber duckies in the tub.

Oh - and here's a "Ducks Number Line Song Vlog" from the Nurture Store, which goes with the art activity you see below.

This is the version of The Ugly Duckling that Sky preferred. I wanted to share the cover so you could see the great artwork.

You might like:

The Weekly Kids Co-Op: Dr. Seuss Crafts


  1. some cute ideas! thanks so much for linking up to tip-toe thru tuesday!

  2. I love these ideas! The ducks are so cute!

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn. I pinned this post.

  3. Jennifer,
    Just a courtesy note to let you know I have pinned your "International Children's Book Day: The Ugly Duckling" post to a pinterest board with a collection of learning resources to complement The Ugly Duckling iBook. If you have other posts on your blog or website that you think may be suitable for this or any other boards I am compiling, please email me. You can view my Pinterest boards at
    You may like to check back from time-to-time as the boards grow.
    Warm regards


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