Play, Language and the Warthog – Playing by the Book

Play, Language and the Warthog - Playing by the Book

My daughter has many favourite books as I’m sure all children do. They of course chop and change but at the moment her favourite is a classic by Lynley Dodd – Sniff-Snuff-Snap!

Lynley Dodd uses rhyme and counting to tell the story of a bossy warthog who tries to keep the water in the waterhole all to himself by chasing away the other animals. He’s not very successful though.

Using books to inspire play can encourage language, which is essential for all children’s success in school. In this case the book Sniff-Snuff-Snap!, becomes the driver for my daughter’s play.


Play, Language and the Warthog - Playing by the Book

“Let’s play waterholes,” she says as she rummages through her animal box till she finds a pig. “Arh, the warthog.” She continues to look through the box, gradually finding animals that will eventually travel to the waterhole. “Mum, I need help,” she’s lifting the wood cuts from the nature box. I sit with her and we begin creating the scene of the waterhole with stones, wood, plants and glass water beads. I sneak off to allow her to play without adult direction.


Play, Language and the Warthog - Playing by the Book

In my observations of her play I observe her:

  • Pretending to be the animals, using voice inflections and language she might ordinarily not encounter.
  • Thinking and expressing how to communicate during conflict and practicing this in a safe and informal setting.
  • Playing with language, experimenting with the rhyme from the book. Not always successfully but so much fun to listen to!
  • Demonstrating a comprehension of number by counting the animals as they come to the waterhole.
  • Constructing her own versions of the story, fracturing it and making it her own by representing her understandings through figurines and natural resources. She changes the scene and the animals go to a ‘shop’ where the warthog takes all the food!

We leave the ‘waterhole shop’ set up for another day and on the third day I get her to help put it away. It’s time for another book….. A Shark In The Park. So it’s telescopes and shadow puppets time!

Allowing children to play with books offers them opportunities to learn so many important literacy lessons. So have look beyond the words and pictures of your children’s favourite books.

Charlie Loves Pearl Contributed by Aasta of Charlie Loves Pearl.

Charlie Loves Pearl creates beautiful paper goods and things for the imagination. Designs give vintage books a new life and help you to celebrate occasions or decorate a lonely wall.




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