“The Mitten” by Jan Brett is a beautiful retelling of a Ukrainian folktale. The story is about a little boy named Nicki who wants his Baba (grandma) to make him snow-white mittens. Initially, Baba doesn’t think this is such a great idea. After all, how will Nicki find his mitten if it falls off in the snow? But since Nicki really wants white mittens, Baba relents and makes them – but says that she’ll check to see that he still has the pair when he returns home.
As Nicki plays outside, one of his mittens does, indeed, drop into the snow. That’s where a mole finds it and crawls inside to keep warm. Before too long, a rabbit decides to snuggle into the mitten as well. Then a hedgehog, owl, badger, fox, bear – and finally a tiny mouse all squeeze into the warm mitten. The mouse, which is perched on the bear’s nose, starts to tickle it; making the bear sneeze and causing all the animals to fly from the mitten. The mitten goes soaring into the air, but fortunately Nicki spots it against the blue sky. He grabs it and takes it home. His Baba is pleased to see that he still has both mittens, even though one is has somehow become a lot larger than the other!
Here are some ways to extend the fun of this lovely folktale:
Make your own mittens: This is a great way to practice sewing skills. Just cut out a pair of felt mittens (if you’ve got an older child, they can do this themselves, if you’ve got a little one, you can cut the mittens out ahead of time). Get some yarn and a darning needle and have your child sew around the edges of the mitten (leaving the bottom open). You can decorate the mittens and use them for our next activity!
Create a treat mitten: If you’ve got mate-less mittens, this is a terrific way to use the spares! If not, you can make your own felt mitten to use. Just get a bunch of treats (wrapped candies or cookies in a baggie) and put them into a mitten. You can tie the top of the mitten with a ribbon and give it to a friend.
Play the mitten matching game: If you’ve got a preschooler, have them help you match up all the mittens in your closet. Just put all the mittens (and gloves) into a basket and have your child see if they can find a mitten’s mate and clip them together with a clothespin. If you live in a place where the weather is too warm for mittens, you can make your own paper pairs to match.
Play mitten hide-and-seek : This is a good game for a group of kindergarten-aged children. Give one child a mitten to hide in a specific room in the house. Have everyone else wait outside the room. When the mitten is hidden, have everyone (except the child who hid it) try to find it. The child who finds the mitten gets to hide it next.
Do a mitten makeover: Last year’s mittens looking a little boring? Never fear – you can do a mitten makeover! Just get some fabric paint, sequins, fabric glue, pompoms – whatever you like – and get ready to be creative and crafty. This is a fun activity to do with an older child or tween; they’ll come up with some fabulous styles!
Act out the story : This story lends itself particularly well to being acted out. If you’ve got animal puppets or stuffed animals, get them together and create a ‘mitten’ for them to hide in (perhaps a cardboard box with a blanket inside, or a blanket or sheet draped over a chair or table). Have your child tell the story as she acts it out.