20 Goodnight Moon Activities For Toddlers – Before Five In A Row

by Melanie on May 7, 2014

Last week, I introduced a new unit for tot school: Before Five In A Row. I’ve had my eye on literature-centered themes since midway through our A-Z themes and I’m so glad we’re finally doing it. It’s perfect for little ones who love books as much as mine does!

So what is it exactly?

Five In A Row is a literary-based “curriculum” for children which involves planning fun activities around selected books to maximize the learning experience. I put quotation marks around the word curriculum because it sounds so structured and serious. In practice, Five In A Row activities should be much more loose and flexible than the word curriculum implies.

The activities ARE guided and focused, but everything is still child-led and play-based. We read a book and do a lot of fun activities, plain and simple. And of course this can be done for any book, not just the ones on the Five In A Row list. Pick your child’s favorite book and plan some fun stuff to do that is tailored to his or her own interests!

I believe wholeheartedly that children this young should not be confined by too much structure in their education. Rather than drilling facts or forcing memorization, toddlers should first be taught to LOVE learning. This is a basic building block that will set them on a path of success for life. If this extremely important building block is skipped, children can develop a negative association with school and education in general. The key is to have fun and explore. In doing so, they learn without even realizing it.

Before Five In A Row is the toddler version of Five In A Row. It involves a list of great children’s classics, many of which I remember from my own childhood. The concept behind Five In A Row is to read a book for five days in a row while also engaging in exciting activities related to the book. When the week is over, you “row” on over to the next book and do it all over again!

I chose to get started with Goodnight Moon because it is a long favorite of Rocket’s and is also visually appealing for the new baby. It’s been nice to get back into school mode. I know Rocket thinks so because he has been asking to do tot school every day, even on the weekend!

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon Sensory Tub

We did a lot, so I’m going to try to keep my descriptions of each activity brief and let the pictures tell most of the story. I’ll begin these posts with a table of contents at the top of the page for easier navigating. You can either go straight to a specific activity listed below or scroll down to read about our entire week one activity at a time!

 

Goodnight Moon Activities

 

1) A Comb & A Brush Salt Tray

2) Red Balloons Transfer Tray

3) Songs About The Moon

4) Socks & Mittens Clothespin Activity

5) Hello, Room Story Pattern Game

6) 3 Little Bears Sitting On Chairs Tray

7) A Bowl Full Of Mush Tray

8) Moon Dough

9) Goodnight Moon Sensory Tub

10) Bunny Playtime

11) Goodnight Moon I Spy Game

12) Moon Craft

13) Primary Colors & Secondary Colors Study

14) Goodnight Moon Printables

15) DIY Stargazer Activity

16) Red Balloons Hide & Seek

17) Goodnight Moon Memory Game

18) Goodnight Moon Puzzle

19) Reading With A Purpose

20) Related Reading

 

1) A Comb And A Brush Salt Tray

 

Goodnight Moon

The tray: salt, a comb, and a brush.

Goodnight Moon

When I put it together, I didn’t realize it’d become a zen garden!

Goodnight Moon

It also became a destruction garden.

Goodnight Moon

He requested stamps as well, though they didn’t imprint very well in the salt.

 

2) Red Balloons Transfer Tray

 

Goodnight Moon

The tray: an egg carton, giant tweezers, and a green cup full of red pom-poms to represent the red balloon in the great green room.

Goodnight Moon

Transferring “red balloons” with the tweezers.

Goodnight Moon

He requested a different tool, so I gave him these tongs for more fine motor skill practice.

 

3) Songs About The Moon

 

For our music time, we focused on two favorite songs- the lullaby “I See The Moonand “Moon, Moon, Moon” by Laurie Berkner.

 

4) Socks & Mittens Clothespin Activity

 

Goodnight Moon

An invitation was set up like this when he entered the schoolroom one day.

Goodnight Moon

The tray: 2 different sizes of clothespins, a pair of socks, and a pair of mittens.

Goodnight Moon

Practicing fine motor skills with clothespins. He still needs my help with this.

Goodnight Moon

Just like the socks and mittens in the book!

 

5) Hello, Room Story Pattern Game

 

To develop Rocket’s ability to recognize story patterns, we played a game called “Hello, Room”. The goal was to say hello to all the objects in the room in the same style the book says goodnight to all the objects. We took turns saying hello to different items. Rocket had so much fun with this one! Everything got a hello- the plants, the baby swing, even the breast pump.

He enjoyed this game so much that he decided to play it again later- when we were driving in the car. Hello, Road!

 

6) 3 Little Bears Sitting On Chairs Tray

 

Goodnight Moon

The tray: 3 little counting bears sitting on chairs (foam blocks) and the cow jumping over the moon (a plastic cow and a sparkly pom-pom). Upon 2 other foam blocks laid a young rabbit to represent the bunny in the book and another one to represent the old lady whispering “hush”. I also included more cows, pom-poms, foam blocks, and bears in the cups for creative play.

Goodnight Moon

Sorting objects on the tray by color.

Goodnight Moon

Making the cow jump over different “moons”.

Goodnight Moon

Helping the bears sit on their chairs!

 

7) A Bowl Full Of Mush Tray

 

Goodnight Moon

The tray: a bowl full of mush (Play-Doh) with a spoon and various play dough tools.

Goodnight Moon

He asked me to make a cow and a moon. This is the best I could do!

Goodnight Moon

Practicing cutting. A WORD OF WARNING IF YOUR DOG IS LIKE MINE: Don’t leave this out unattended! Apparently, Play-Doh is a delicious snack.

 

8) Moon Dough

 

Goodnight Moon

Moon Dough Recipe: 4 cups of flour and a fourth cup of oil. After reading about this sensory play recipe on several blogs, it’s been on my list to try for a while. Its texture is like a damp sand that can be molded. Moon Dough is also called Cloud Dough.

Goodnight Moon

He helped mix it all together.

Goodnight Moon

This is what it looked like once it was mixed. It was neat because you could clump it together in chunks and then break it up with your fingers to make it fall apart like sand. I included a dish, a scoop, and a spoon for him to explore it.

Goodnight Moon

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but Rocket is one of those kids who doesn’t like to be too messy. He has been from the time he was a young baby. Because of this, recipes like this one can be hit or miss. To my disappointment, it was a miss. He enjoyed helping me make it, but did not want to play with it once he saw what it left on his hands! I’ll give it another shot in the future. Sometimes it takes time for these things to grow on him. He’s been loving getting some dirt on those hands working in the garden with Dad this year!

Goodnight Moon

He did check it out some thanks to the tools I provided. ANOTHER WORD OF WARNING IF YOUR DOG IS LIKE MINE: Don’t leave this on the schoolroom floor! My dog gobbled it up. She clearly thinks tot school is tasty.

 

9) Goodnight Moon Sensory Tub

 

Goodnight Moon

The sensory tub: black beans to represent the night sky, sparkly foam stars, sparkly pom-poms, 3 little bears sitting on chairs, a cow jumping over the moon, 2 little kittens, a comb and a brush, and a bowl full of mush. This one was so fun to make!

Goodnight Moon

Scooping up the cow and some beans with the spoon.

Goodnight Moon

Got it!

Goodnight Moon

Rocket asked where the ball of yarn was for the 2 little kittens (as there is a ball of yarn pictured in the book), so we gave them their own pom-pom balls!

Goodnight Moon

We used the objects in the sensory tub to make imprints in the Play-Doh from the bowl full of mush.

Goodnight Moon

A bunny!

 

10) Bunny Playtime

 

Goodnight Moon

We swung by the pet store for some hands-on time with real, live bunnies.

Goodnight Moon

He wanted to pet them all!

 

11) Goodnight Moon I Spy Game

 

Goodnight Moon

For one session of the reading, I surprised Rocket with a room full of Goodnight Moon props! His job was to find each item as we read through the book. This was the set-up for the comb and the brush and the bowl full of mush.

Goodnight Moon

Saying hello to the old lady whispering “hush!”

Goodnight Moon

Spotting something behind the door…

Goodnight Moon

Two little kittens!

Goodnight Moon

The cow jumping over the moon, sloppily scribbled together by Mom!

Goodnight Moon

The red balloon.

Goodnight Moon

Three little bears sitting on chairs.

Goodnight Moon

The moon and the stars (and the edge of our garden out there).

Goodnight Moon

The little toy house and the quiet old lady whispering “Hush!”

 

12) Moon Craft

 

Goodnight Moon

First, I’ll show you how the moon craft turned out.

Goodnight Moon

The setup: blue construction paper, a white circle, foam self-adhesive stars, and snow paint (a 50/50 mix of white glue and shaving cream).

Goodnight Moon

He started by painting the moon with the snow paint. Because it is 50% glue, we also dabbed some on the back to adhere the moon to the construction paper.

Goodnight Moon

He was much more excited about the star stickers! Peeling them off was great fine motor skill practice.

Goodnight Moon

Placing a purple star on his night sky.

Goodnight Moon

Carefully deciding where to place his stars. There is an artist in this kid!

 

13) Primary Colors & Secondary Colors Study

 

Goodnight Moon

Since Goodnight Moon is filled with bold and beautiful primary and secondary colors, it was a perfect time to talk about color combinations. What better way to do that than by mixing real paint?

Goodnight Moon

A splash of red on blue to make purple.

Goodnight Moon

Yellow and blue make green.

Goodnight Moon

Color mixing is fun!

Goodnight Moon

We added the finger paint to the snow paint to create beautiful pastel hues. This was Rocket’s idea.

Goodnight Moon

1 of Rocket’s 2 paintings.

Goodnight Moon

And his second painting. Rocket placed the painting on the table to dry all by himself when I wasn’t even in the room. He did this after watching me do it with his first painting. How they learn by watching our example!

 

14) Goodnight Moon Printables

 

Goodnight Moon

We used these Goodnight Room printables from Homeschool Creations for this week’s handwriting work. You can find this set and many more wonderful freebies from the linked site!

Goodnight Moon

Circling the letters that begin the words for the pictures.

 

 15) DIY Stargazer Activity

 

Goodnight Moon

The tray: toilet paper rolls, rubber bands, aluminum foil, skewers and diaper pins, scissors, and a flashlight.

Goodnight Moon

For this project, we secured the aluminum foil onto the toilet paper roll with a rubber band and then created a night sky by poking holes and shapes for the moon. We shone the flashlight through the tube to see the stars and moon illuminated on the ceiling!

Goodnight Moon

Poking holes. Toothpicks, safety pins, and bent paper clips would also work for this. Rocket really enjoyed the process of poking holes and he made multiple stargazers in one sitting.

 

 16) Red Balloons Hide & Seek

 

Goodnight Moon

I hid red balloons all over the house for Rocket to find one day! 

Goodnight Moon

There is one!

Goodnight Moon

We used this activity to work on counting.

Goodnight Moon

Rocket wanted to take a turn at hiding the balloons too. I stayed in the bedroom as he scattered them across the house. One wound up in the potty!

 

 17) Goodnight Moon Memory Game

 

Goodnight Moon

Rocket loves to name an item and watch me draw it. I drew a great green room and told him that I’d draw any item from the book that he can remember. This was a good activity for working on memory.

Goodnight Moon

He did some drawing himself!

 

 18) Goodnight Moon Puzzle

 

Goodnight Moon

Hmmm, which piece?

Goodnight Moon

 

This Goodnight Moon puzzle was given to Rocket as a gift. This was our first time working on it!

 

 19) Reading With A Purpose

 

With Five In A Row, the idea is to read the same book over and over again. Repetition is very important in a child’s world of learning. But just because we read it every day at the beginning of tot school doesn’t mean we read it the same way every time. Some things we did to read with a purpose:

  • We discussed daytime and nighttime. In the past month, Rocket has taken a strong notice in the different times of day. He is constantly asking what time it is. He often stops what he is doing throughout the day to observe whether it is daytime, nighttime, morning, afternoon, or evening. I asked him what time of day it was in the book and we talked about how the sun’s position in the sky at different times determines how light or dark it is on Earth.
  • We talked about the word “Great” and its different meanings, as suggested in Jane Lambert’s Before Five In A Row book.
  • He also learned the words “allusion” and “reference” as we talked about the nursery rhyme and fairy tale that were mentioned in Goodnight Moon.  Explaining references in children’s books expands their cultural literacy.
  • Rocket read the book to Songbird with my help. He is learning to be a little teacher himself, an important job for a big brother! She listened and looked intently at the pretty pictures.

 

 20) Related Reading

 

Goodnight Moon

  • My World by Margaret Wise Brown – The companion book to Goodnight Moon. We compared art styles, writing styles, and references made in both books.
  • Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown – This was also written and illustrated by the same talented people who created Goodnight Moon. Its main characters are also bunnies!
  • Bedtime Lullabies by Igloobooks – Specifically for the song, “I See The Moon,” which we sang together throughout the week.
  • Treasury of Mother Goose – For the nursery rhyme, “Hey Diddle Diddle,” which was referenced in Goodnight Moon with the cow jumping over the moon.
  • Goldilocks by Dom DeLuise – This old fairy tale was referenced in Goodnight Moon with the three little bears sitting on chairs. We love Dom DeLuise’s funny version of the story!

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Our Goodnight Moon week was filled with awesome activities that kept us busy and laughing together. It was the perfect way to jump back into a school routine after we took a break to adjust to our new baby.

This week, we are having all kinds of fun with Runaway Bunny and many more awesome children’s classics are lined up after this one. Imaginative book-based activities are a wonderful way to make stories come alive for toddlers and teach them through play!

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