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{Virtual Book Club for Kids} Move, Eat, Draw & Learn with Hit the Ball Duck by Jez Alborough

I really love the Virtual Book Club for Kids. I enjoy seeing all of the creative ways parents and educators explore books with children. I have also discovered many wonderful new authors, like we did this month with Jez Alborough. Each month, we Move, Eat, Draw and Learn with a selected book (or books) from the author for that month. This month, I did not get my library request in earlier enough to get a book copy, but instead found a great reading of one of Jez’s books on Youtube: Hit the Ball, Duck by Richard Step. It was the perfect story for Wild Thing, who really loves baseball, and we had so much fun moving, eating, creating and learning with the book. 

Move - Even with little ones, baseball promotes gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and lots of physical activity. Well before they can make contact and hit the ball consistently (or at all), they can enjoy different elements of baseball. Wild Thing, who is 3 1/2 can hit a plastic ball with his plastic bat now quite well. Caterpillar (almost 2) rarely makes contact, but enjoys trying and is now starting to be able to throw a ball up to himself and hit it at times. We often will hold the ball out for him to hit, since we do not have a tee. My boys also love going to the baseball field near our neighborhood park/playground and running around the bases -- a great workout for the boys and me! Wild Thing and Caterpillar also love to pretend, so I will pretend to throw a baseball and they will pretend to hit, or they will throw to me and I will pretend to hit. Wild Thing loves deciding who is out, who gets a strike and who hits a home run! 

Eat - For lunch today, I made a simple baseball treat: an English muffin topped with cream cheese and some strawberry jam in a baseball pattern. Simple and fun! I am hoping to try out some no-bake coconut cookie balls too -- perhaps sprinkles for the red stitching. We’ll see...

Draw - We often do big art projects right on the floor. I will tape posters down so the boys can color while sitting on the floor, giving them plenty of space to create. Recently, I taped a large plastic tablecloth on the floor for painting projects. First, we did an open-ended art project that became a tree. Next, on a different section of the same table cloth turned over and taped to the ground, we painted a baseball field. 

You can see our tree showing through from the other side of the table cloth.

Then, you’ll see how Hit the Ball Duck inspired some pretend stuffed animal play on both the baseball field. 
In the book, Duck, Goat, Sheep and Frog go to the park to play baseball. (You'll see in our pretend play that Rabbit got to play too!) Duck hits the ball into a tree and then proceeds to throw the bat and glove in the tree as he tries to get the ball out. Instead, everything gets stuck in the tree. Finally, the animals climb up to get the items out. So, the tree we had previously painted on the tablecloth also came in handy as we did pretend play and retold the story.
Learn - I love providing my son with opportunities and activities that encourage retelling stories, which is so important for literacy. Recently, Caterpillar and I decided working on transforming our Red, White and Blue Holiday Bin into a Baseball Bin. 

We took everything except the red and white buttons and a few stars out of the Red, White and Blue Bin.
Then, we added in the baseball erasers (I got them at Rite-Aid for $1) and some of our green pasta that we've used in bins in the past.
Here is Caterpillar enjoying the bin. He especially loved using tweezers to try and pick up the buttons and baseball erasers.
After “reading” Hit the Ball Duck, I realized it would be perfect to add elements to the baseball bin so that it could be a storytelling bin to go with the book. So, we added a duck and a frog. I did not have a goat or sheep toy or picture to add, so instead I added the letter S for the Sheep and G for Goat. Since, we were using letters to represent two of the key characters in the story, I also wrote Duck on the Duck and a letter F on the Frog. I also added a small branch to represent the tree in the book. Oh, and Lightning McQueen worked perfectly as the red car that Duck, Goat, Frog and Sheep ride in as they head to the park for their game of baseball. 

Wild Thing took this picture of Frog, Duck, Sheep (S), Goat (G), the baseball, bat and glove all taking the car to the park.
Wild Thing enjoyed retelling the story with the bin and its props. After we told it a few times, sometimes referencing the video book to make sure we were getting the story right, I decided to extend his learning experience and got a box of word cards that we have and our milk cap letters. We looked through the word cards to see if we could find any words that came up in the story (again, we would sometimes consult the video book if we weren’t sure). We found: Stop, Go (these two words are two of the first words Wild Thing ever recognized), Goat, No and Tree (we’ve done many literacy activities that have included this word in the past, particularly an activity for the book Trouble with Trolls, and we revisited the word again when we read There Was A Tree). 

After we added those word cards to the bin since they belonged to the story, Wild Thing spelled each of the words using his milk cap letters. He decided himself to place the words with their corresponding cards when he finished spelling. 

Finally, the bin itself had the word baseball on it. I covered the first half and just encouraged him to focus on spelling Ball. As he did the spelling, I sounded the words out for him. I knew he was primarily matching letters, but also wanted to demonstrate the phonetic components of the words as part of the spelling process as a way to encourage his early literacy learning and understanding. 

We had lots of fun with this book and with the pretend play that grew out of it. 

Another great learning opportunity that playing baseball provides is shapes with circles and/or spheres (the baseballs), diamonds (the field and 1st-3rd base) and a pentagon for home plate.

Bonus Tip: Take the kids to a ball game! My boys love going to baseball games, and we recently discovered our local minor league team. I highly encourage you to see if there is a minor league team in your area. Tickets are much cheaper ($10 each in our case). They offer lots of fun ways for families to enjoy the game. At our field, there is a grassy area for children to play in while watching the game, a section of bouncers and jumpers (there is an additional fee for those), T-shirts being thrown into the stands on a regular basis and a mascot roaming around meeting the kids. Children also got to run across the outfield at the end of the 7th inning. Minor league teams often have promotional events/items to encourage attendance. At the game we attended, the boys each got a ticket for a free kids meal (hot dog, chips and drink), and you can get really close to the field, which makes it easier for children (especially younger kids) to get interested in the game. 

Sharing at: Link and Learn, Montessori Monday, Tuesday Tots, Eco-Kids Tuesday, Artsy Play Wednesday, and It's Playtime! 


  1. Love that you added the story elements. I'm planning a story sensory bin post in the near future and would love to add a link to this post!

  2. Love all that you did with this book! Hit the Ball Duck was one of our favorites this month.

  3. I love all of your wonderful ideas to go with the book. Wild Thing must have had an amazing time with your creative educational activities.

  4. I really love your sensory bin! What a fun unit! The snack look yummy! Thank you for sharing this post on Read.Explore.Learn. I will be sharing it on Pinterest.


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