Gifts Activities

GiftsWritten in verse, this charming tale, featuring Barbara Reid’s wonderful Plasticine illustrations, is sure to delight young readers. Join Grandma as she visits far off places – from Australia to the Arctic and many sites between. She asks her granddaughter what gifts she would like her to bring back from her travels. The granddaughter’s answers are definitely not your typical souvenirs! A piece of the sky, an iceberg on a string, a roar from the jungle king…



Created by Carol-Ann Hoyte
  1. Host a story time that revolves around the theme of grandmothers. The event can last an evening, a day or a weekend. Here are a few Canadian picture books that would be grand for the occasion: Ruth Ohi’s A Trip with Grandma, Cecil Castellucci’s Grandma’s Gloves, Paulette Bourgeois’s Oma’s Quilt, Barbara Smucker’s Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt, Jean Little’s Bats About Baseball, Janet Russell’s Bella’s Tree and Hazel Hutchins’ Two So Small. Grandmothers can be invited to join in the fun. If you don’t have a grandmother or not one who lives nearby, older women who are friends and neighbours can be invited to enjoy the occasion.
  2. Gifts follows a girl’s grandmother as she travels around the world. Be an armchair traveller, the rhythmic and musical way. Discover nursery rhymes and children’s songs from other countries. If you have access to a computer, Mama Lisa’s World: International Music & Culture website is a comprehensive resource. It provides lyrics to children’s songs from around the world in English and the original languages. Many songs include MP3s, midi tunes and scores. The site also offers selections (nursery rhymes, poems, lullabies) from English-speaking countries. Don’t forget that the library is a great source for finding international nursery rhymes and children’s songs in the form of CDs and songbooks.
  3. One, two, three… poetry for you and me! Since acrostics are short and constructed around a simple premise, they are an ideal starting point for budding young poets. The first step in writing an acrostic poem is to choose a word and write it vertically on your page. (Note that each letter of the word should be on a separate line but lined up underneath one another). The second step is to think of a word, phrase or sentence that begins with each letter of the word you have written vertically on your page. (The general practice is that each line of the poem describes the word written vertically). Here is an example using the word “Gifts”: “Giving gifts / is a / fun way / to / share.” To learn more about and view examples of acrostics, you can visit
  4. This story features Plasticine artwork crafted by Barbara Reid. With help from this illustrator, known as the Queen of Plasticine, you can make some Plasticine arts and crafts of your own. If you have access to a computer, visit her website at to watch a three-part video called “Making Plasticine Pictures” and to get directions for three Plasticine projects. If you do not have the use of a computer, you can purchase Reid’s book Fun with Modeling Clay or borrow it from the library.
  5. “[A] rainbow to wear as a ring” is one of three souvenirs that the girl asks her grandmother to bring her from Hawaii. Why not try your hand at making a rainbow fruit salad? Use a glass or clear plastic bowl so that you can see the colours of the salad from a side view. Place the salad layers according to the following order of colours: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. This recipe can also be made with vegetables. Other than blue potatoes (which might be hard to find), there aren’t many blue vegetables. If you can’t find a blue veggie for your salad, you can have a salad with five layers instead of six.
  6. Postage stamps are fun to collect but great for decorating items, too. Give cancelled stamps a new lease on life by using them to decorate a container. For this craft, you will need a small box or tin, used postage stamps, a thin craft paintbrush and non-toxic white glue. Use the paintbrush to apply glue to a small section, about the size of a regular stamp, of your container. Place a stamp over the area where you have applied the glue. Repeat these steps, overlapping the stamps, until you have covered the outside of your box or tin. You can cover the stamps on your container with a thin coat of glue for a simple and subtle shine.
  7. Here are two games that put your memory to the test. How to play “Going on a Trip”: The first player thinks of an object that starts with the letter “a” and inserts the name of the object at the end of the following sentence: “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to take an _____ .” The second player repeats what the first player says and adds an object that begins with the letter “b” and so on. How to play “Grandma’s Cat”: The first player thinks of an adjective that starts with the letter “a” and inserts the adjective at the end of the following sentence: “Grandma’s cat is _____.” The second player repeats what the first player says and adds an adjective that begins with the letter “b” and so on. As a goal for both games, players can try to make it all the way to the end of the alphabet.
  8. The apple doll is sometimes called a granny apple doll or apple granny doll. It is a popular folk craft that dates back to Canadian/American pioneers who made items out of whatever was available. These dolls get their name from their faces carved from apples (which are then dried). No two dolls are the same since the drying process produces different effects. To obtain instructions on how to make apple dolls, visit or If you do not have access to a computer, you can find instructions for making apple dolls in a book of pioneer crafts.
  9. Gifts follows the girl’s grandmother as she travels to Africa, Australia, Mexico, Hawaii, the Arctic, India, Switzerland, China and England. Why not create a travel collage inspired by these destinations? Use travel brochures, old magazines and other items to find pictures of sites, scenery, animals and other things you would or might find in the places the grandmother visits. Cut out the pictures you would like to use for your collage. Get a sheet of paper – an 8.5” x 11” is ideal. Use non-toxic craft glue to stick your pictures, in an overlapping pattern, onto the paper.
  10. What do Adwoa Badoe, Jeremy Tankard, Michael Kusugak, Rachna Gilmore and Song Nan Zhang have in common? They are all Canadian children’s authors who were born and raised in one of the destinations the grandmother visits in the story. Why not check out picture books created by these individuals? Here is a quick sampler to get you started: Crabs for Dinnerby Adwoa Badoe (Ghana), Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard (South Africa), The Littlest Sled Dog by Michael Kusugak (Northwest Territories/Nunavut), Catching Time by Rachna Gilmore (India) and From Far and Wide: A Canadian Citizenship Scrapbook illustrated by Song Nan Zhang (China).