Something from Nothing

Can you really make something from nothing?

Phoebe Gilman’s “Something from Nothing” is definitely in my top five all-time favorite children’s stories. You might know Ms. Gilman from her wonderful rhyming “Jillian Jiggs” or her sweet “The Balloon Tree.” “Something from Nothing” is another picture book treasure.

Something from Nothing book activities

Scholastic Books

The story is sweet and simple. A little boy, Joseph, is born. His grandfather makes him a blanket to keep him warm and safe from bad dreams. As Joseph grows up, the blanket gets worn. Joseph’s mother tells him to throw it out, but Joseph knows his grandfather will be able to make it into something else. And he does! He makes Joseph a beautiful jacket. Joseph continues to get older and the jacket does too, so Grandfather makes it into a vest. Then a tie, a handkerchief, and finally a button. When Joseph loses the button, his mother tells him that not even his grandfather can make something from nothing. Joseph, being a clever boy, goes to school the next day and decides he can make something from nothing: a story.

The pictures that accompany this lovely tale are beautiful; they’re friendly and warm and depict a family that truly cares about each other. Children will delight at the ‘little mouse’ story that accompanies the main story: at the bottom of each page, a mouse family uses the fabric scraps Joseph’s grandfather cuts and makes things of their own. At the end of the story, pieces of Joseph’s original blanket can be seen all over their mouse house.

With the holidays fast approaching, this book is the perfect accompaniment to days spent with a loving family.

Here are some ideas to help you and your child make something from nothing:

Make something special from nothing special

When my brother and I were kids, we had a box of supplies affectionately referred to as the ‘art box’. In it was a wide variety of pretty much everything a kid would need to make something fantastic. Small boxes, masking tape, glue, ribbon, tissue paper, pipe cleaners – you name it, it was likely in there! We regularly built (and re-built) all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Put an art box together for your child and encourage them to use the scraps and odds and ends to create something amazing. You might be surprised at what they make.

See something different

Lateral thinking is fun to do and a great way to practice being creative. Here are two activities you and your child can do to see things in a different way:

Make a page of rows of circles (about the size of a quarter). It’s easy to do this in a program like Microsoft Word. Print out the circles and get some pencil crayons. Challenge your child to make each circle into something. A ball, some glasses (joining the circles is allowed), a cookie – whatever they can come up with, fabulous!  The tricky part is to use each circle on the page.

Find a tool, kitchen instrument, piece from a machine, empty container – anything that your child might not immediately be able to identify. Ask your child what they think the purpose of the item is, and what it COULD be used for. For example, if you got an empty spool of thread, your child could say that it might be a stool for a mouse, a large bead on a necklace, a bubble blower, or a stamp. All of those are great answers! Encourage your child to think of as many different uses for something as they can.

Make a family tree

The holidays are a super time to talk about family, and to let your child know all about their ancestors. Draw a large tree and cut out some red construction paper apples. On one side of the apple, glue a picture of a family member. Glue the top of the apple to the tree, and leave the bottom unglued so you can lift it up like a flap. Under the apple, write the person’s name, birth date, and something special about them (i.e. “Grandma was the first person in our family to get a university degree!”). Hang up the tree for all to see when your family comes to visit. If you like, you can make this a project to do when your family is around.

Revamp some old clothes

Just like Joseph’s grandfather, encourage your child to take a piece of clothing that doesn’t fit anymore and make it into something else. You might need to help with any sewing, but let your child be the designer.

Have a wonderful time with your child, making something from nothing!

About The Author

Jessica Boyd
Jessica was pretty sure she was going to be a teacher, but after graduating she decided to become a writer. She heard about a little site called Webkinz World that hadn’t yet launched, and the rest (as they say) is history. Jessica has written the W Tales, created loveable characters like Plumpy the Hippo, written for Webkinz Newz and been the creative lead for Webkinz Jr. She is thrilled to bring her love of books, crafts, play, and baking to the Ganz Parent Club. When Jess isn’t writing, she’s busy being an auntie and ‘fairy godmother’ to the wonderful kids in her life.

5 Responses to Something from Nothing

  1. angel says:

    I like it!

  2. daylili says:

    Very nice!! <3

  3. sweetmom123456789 says:

    I do this with my children, we are now taking large leaves, tracing them and glueing them to art paper.

  4. buttercup5921 says:

    Awesome! Love this Idea!