I’ve finally made it to the last page of Moby Dick; naturally, I’m wearing a wool blazer adorned with leather elbow patches. Excuse me while I set down my wine goblet and pack my pipe with artisinal tobacco. Can’t you just smell the richness and grandeur? I want to share this literary experience with my 4 year old (minus the wine and tobacco), and I know just how to do it.
If you’re like me, you occasionally search for fun, brain-boosting activities to do with your child. And if you’re like me, you also want those activities to be effortless. I stop and peruse all of the STEM, sensory, and site word activities on Pinterest as often as the next parent, but I rarely pin them and often keep scrolling. Why? Because they typically require me to do one or more of the following:
- Print a set of cards, labels, or word images
- Cut out a set of cards, labels, or word images
- Glue something
- Create a labyrinthine structure using yarn and blue tape
- Make a huge mess that I must then clean up
I’m not lazy. Really. But I don’t have time for all of that. Also, I just don’t want to do it. I’d rather hop in the car and take a family trip to the nature preserve, which already exists, than create an intricate sensory scene with water, food coloring, pine cones, and fake plastic crap that ultimately ends up making something wet or stained or sticky. I’m not saying making dioramas isn’t fun. I’d just rather wait until the kids are old enough to cut, glue, and – most importantly – clean up the resulting mess themselves. Go ahead, mom-judge me. I’ll just be over here doing this super FUN and EASY lego activity with my kid that only requires three mess-proof ingredients:
- One bin of Legos
- One copy of Moby Dick (or any book you like)
- A dash of imagination
Before I reveal this simple activity, I must confess: I’m not wearing a smarty-pants jacket or savoring Merlot. Heck, I’m not even wearing smarty pants. I’m actually wearing dollar-store flip-flops and sipping a 4 oz. juice box with Big Bird’s face on it. Also, the version of Moby Dick that I just finished is this one (*SPOILER ALERT* Ishmael floats):
Have you seen these? They’re called “Cozy Classics” and there are plenty of classics to choose from. We also have the “War and Peace” Cozy Classic but I just couldn’t get into that one. I found the plot to be a little untidy if not convoluted.
Anyways, thanks to Hubs, who has actually read Moby Dick Proper, I had a pretty good grasp of the story before reading the Cozy Classic (thanks to his retelling, which included every
banal exciting detail). We’ve been reading the board book version to my son since he was about a year old, so he basically needs his own tweed jacket and readers. He gets the basic points of the story and knows it involves a boat, a whale that bit off a guy’s leg, and a crew of sailors that goes in search of the whale. And, really, what more is there to know?
[pause for malevolent glares from Melville aficionados]
So one rainy Saturday morning, the kid wanted to play with legos. I agreed, but I had to suppress a massive eye roll when he said he wanted to build robots.
Robots. Again. For the gajillionth-millionth time.
“Let’s make something else!” I suggested.
I spotted the Moby Dick board book.
“Where’s the lego boat?” I asked.
I set to work constructing the ultimate Moby Dick lego configuration. Soon, we had an ocean made of all the blue and purple legos. We put the Pequod in our “ocean” and before we knew it, Captain Ahab was after that whale, which we also improvised, complete with blow hole foam (in case you were wondering about that white block on his head.) Is Ahab a smiling bear, still in possession of both legs in this scenario? Sure. Does it really matter? Nah.
So, if you’re looking for a simple, fun, and educational activity for your pre-schooler that involves literacy and creative role-play while facilitating dialogue about some pretty complex themes like loyalty, empathy, bravery, and vengeance, it’s time to get out the lego bin and start devising the stage for this
really long and monotonous exciting and celebrated tale.
We played for most of the morning and we all had fun. He was so preoccupied with this activity that I actually finished a whole cup of coffee while it was still hot. The best part: cleanup. Just toss the legos back into the bin and Voila! On to the next rainy Saturday exploit.
As we ended our Moby Dick adventure, I glimpsed something quivering faintly in the corner of the room. I looked up and Behold! – the ghost of Herman Melville himself. A knowing smile played upon his lips. He winked and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up, as if to say, “Well played, my good marm. Well played.” When I rubbed my eyes to reexamine the specter, he was gone.
And now you have a Melville-approved activity to pin on Pinterest that doesn’t involve wasting half of your day cutting, gluing, and getting sticky or wet. You’re welcome.