LittleMan is still working with early readers, however he has been a HUGE fan of chapter books since he was old enough to sit and listen to them read aloud. He is such a fan in fact that I eventually caved in and started getting him audio books because my throat couldn’t take reading aloud constantly. The first chapter books that he fell in love with were written by Roald Dahl: James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Magic Finger, and, his personal favorite, George’s Marvellous Medicine.
George’s Marvellous Medicine is a story about a little boy who lives on a farm with his mother, father, and grandmother. His parents are loving, decent people, but his grandmother is a self-centered old witch. Now everyday Grandma takes medicine but George thinks it must not be doing her any good because she’s still just as mean and bad tempered as ever so he decides to make her a new medicine, and the results are fantastic. I won’t spoil it for you but suffice it to say, this is a very fun book.
Now, LittleMan has loved George’s Marvellous Medicine since he was 3 years old, and at this point in his life he probably has the whole dang book memorized from having listened to it read aloud dozens upon dozens of times. So it should come as no surprise that we decided to use this book as our theme for our annual messy playdate this year.
This is our third year hosting a messy playdate and we’ve never had a theme before. It was such a roaring success that I’m sure all of our messy playdates will be themed from here on out.
If you’d like to read about our previous messy playdates you can do so here (2013) and here (2012).
This was also our first year using only taste-safe messy play materials and that was also well-received by the children.
I displayed the book inside of a protective plastic sleeve so that if any of the parents were curious, they could check it out. Nearby the book display we had an open window and my wonderful husband had the idea to play our George’s Marvellous Medicine audio book. He set up a couple speakers next to the open window so the children could listen to the story while they played.
Nearby the window there was a blanket with small toy tea cups (made from plastic Easter eggs) and vanilla pudding colored with food dye, for any of the children who wanted a less messy area to play.
I utilized an old clothesline post in our yard to make a “Grandma” scarecrow.
And I supplied the children with small catapults so that they could fling medicine at Grandma.
Because George and his family live on a farm in the book, I dug out some of our plastic farm animals and set them up in a paddling pool with popcorn, cooked pasta, cooked rice (dyed green), jello, and animal crackers. The animals in this area inspired a bit of small world play for the children.
The main station, full of kitchen tools and medicine ingredients, I regret to say I didn’t get any decent pictures of before the children descended upon it.
I did go through the book and made note of every ingredient that George used to create his marvelous medicine. Most of the ingredients listed in the book are not taste safe so I substituted each item out for something that would look similar to it. For engine oil we used Kool-Aide. For Flea Powder we used powdered sugar. For brown paint we used chocolate pudding. For horse pills we used cereal. For extra hot chili sauce we used strawberry syrup. etc..
I created a printable label for each ingredient found in the book and I’ve included the labels that I made, along with a list of ideas for taste-safe alternative ingredients, which you can download by clicking on the following text link: George’s Marvellous Medicine ingredient labels and safe ingredient substitutes
(In the pictures you may notice that I also printed out and laminated a few quotes from the book, due to copyright reasons these are not included in the free printable linked above.)
I opted to laminate my ingredient labels so that they could be reused in other book related activities, but if you’re only planning on needing them one time then laminating would probably unnecessary for you.
It was fun to see the different ways that the children reacted to everything. Some saw the taste-safe items and decided to run and taste everything.
Others saw the kitchen tools and got excited to mix and mash and create.
Pretty much the only thing that all the children agreed upon was that they all LOVED throwing the medicine they created at the scarecrow Grandma.
Here are some snap shots from the party:
Once the party was over the kids got to clean up at the clean up station. (If you ever want to host a messy playdate, please do remember to have a clean up station near the exit!)
We took a short break while I washed out the pools and bowls and such. Then I set up some water play in the front yard and the kids were ready to play some more!