Books to Promote Schema Play in the Early Years

Lisa Kane
2 min read

Using picture books as a tool for interaction

“The most supportive thing adults can do to help children learn, even more than selecting high-quality books, is to have conversations with them during reading.”(Strouse, 2018).

Stories can be a wonderful way to develop interactions with children – either as a one-to-one response to their interests or with a small group of like-minded inquirers. Using a story to further explore an idea and provoke discussion and conversation, connects you back to your role as a facilitator as you engage the children through high quality interactions.

We have identified picture books that you can use as a response to each play schema, either as a read aloud or as part of a learning experience. You could also use these in combination with our postcards: Developing vocabulary through schema play as you highlight and introduce new words.

How you can use this booklist in your classroom

  • As a shared response to an observed schema with an individual child
  • With a small group of children to promote discussion around shared schematic play
  • As a provocation, to introduce a new idea related to the observed schema
  • In a story basket, for children to explore further with story-related items
  • As part of a learning engagement
The Wind Blew
Follow the villagers as they chase their belongings all around the town.
By Pat Hutchins
Turn the pages and get splatted!
By Jon Burgerman
Run with Billy as he runs around the park, trying to catch his balloon.
By Jez Alborogh
Big Red Bath
Pop! And Splash! with Ben and Bella as they take a bath - but watch out! You never know who will jump in!
By Julia Jarman
Walking Through the Jungle
Move your body in different ways as you cross deserts, mountains and seas.
By Julie Lacome
Stomp Dinosaur Stomp!
Roar and make some noise as you stomp with the dinosaurs.
By Margaret Mayo
The Greatest Gymnast of All
Move with this girl as she swings, jumps and leaps her way across the floor.
By Cynthia Jabar
Kite Day
Get ready to fly with Bear and Mole- but watch out for the trees!
By Will Hillenbrand
Handa’s Surprise
Travel with Handa as she fills her basket and walks to her friend’s village. Will her basket still be the same when she arrives?
By Eileen Browne
Mr. Grumpy’s Outing
Sail with Mr. Grumpy as he rows along the river with some unexpected friends!
By John Burningham
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch
Get into some pulley fun as the lighthouse keeper gets his daily lunch delivery.
By Ronda and David Armitage
Moving House
Pack up those boxes and bags with Sam and Sophie, as they move to a new house.
By Anne Civardi
Red Wagon
Pull your way up and down hills with Lucy, as she goes to the village to collect some groceries for mum.
By Renatta Liwska
Follow the line in this wordless picture book to trace this girl’s movements as she goes skating across the lake.
By Suzie Lee
The Jolly Postman
Wait for the postman and open the letters as you go through this delightfully interactive read!
By Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao
Find a way to wrap your perfect bao with Amy, as she becomes a solution finder in the kitchen.
By Kat Zhang
My Presents
Lift the flaps to discover what is inside the wrappings.
By Rod Campbell
Stop Sticking, Stan!
Watch out! Stan may sticker you if you stand still for long enough!
By Nicola Killen
Hiding Heidi
Discover how Heidi can hide herself away, just by wearing the right clothing.
By Fiona Woodcock
It Was a Cold, Dark Night
Explore caves, dens and holes as the animals keep warm in the night.
By Tim Hopgood
This Is Our House
Play ‘houses’ with these children, as they find ways to be more inclusive in their play.
By Michael Rosen
Time for Tacos
Fill up your taco as you prepare dinner with Dad.
By Carla Golembe
A Pocket for Corduroy
Spot all the baskets, bags and boxes in the story, as Corduroy looks for the perfect pocket.
By Dan Freeman
Whatever Next!
Climb aboard with bear, as he zooms off for adventure.
By Jill Murphy
In a Jar
Choose what treasures you would fill a jar with. Who would you share them with?
By Deborah Marcero
Angelica Sprocket's Pockets
Take a look in your own pockets. Do they hold as many delights as Angelica’s?
By Quentin Blake
Grandma’s Purse
Listen to grandma's stories as she reveals the treasures she keeps in her purse.
By Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Good Night, Gorilla
Use your own words to tell the story as you look through this book. How can the zookeeper make sure the animals are all secure in their enclosures?
By Peggy Rathman
Rosie’s Walk
Take a walk with Rosie around the farm as you develop positional vocabulary.
By Pat Hutchins
All Sorts
Sort with Frank and explore the different ways that items and people can be grouped.
By Pippa Goodhart and Emily Rand
Loo Queue
Get in line as the animals queue for the toilet. A great way to explore ordinal number.
By Nicholas Allan
Pitter Pattern
Listen, move and look with Lu as she organises her world into patterns throughout this story.
By Joyce Hesselberth
The Button Box
Explore grandma’s button box, and find the ways the buttons can be sorted and positioned.
By Margarette S. Reid
Llama Llama Mess, Mess, Mess
Help llama tidy up his room, after such a big mess, mess, mess!
By Anna Dewdney
Swirl by Swirl
Go round and round with nature.
By Joyce Sidman
The Very Busy Spider
Watch as spider spins his web, page by page.
By Eric Carle
What Do Wheels Do all Day?
Get dizzy as you get up to speed on all things wheels.
By April Prince
The Dot
Go dotty and get creative!
By Peter H. Reynolds
Silly Sally
Meet Sally’s new friends as she topsy-turvies her way into town.
By Audrey Wood
Shark in the Park!
Spy along with Timothy as he plays with his new telescope. Watch out! There are sharks about!
By Nick Sharratt
Spend the day with baby, and see the world through his eyes.
By Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses
Wear your magic glasses and see how Pete the cat views his world.
By James Dean
Look Up!
Look down to the ground below. What do people look like from the balcony? What do they see when they look up?
By Jung Jin-Ho
The Swing
Swing up and over the world with this beautiful poem.
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Kika the Upside-Down Girl
Hang with Kika as she swings and sways in the trees.
By Jessica Tudos
This Book Is Upside-Down
Turn and twist as you read the pages. Which way is up? Which way is down?
By Erin Rose Wage
The Invisible String
Tie your invisible string to the people you love as you read your way through the story.
By Patrice Karst
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Find a better way to attach Pete’s buttons! They keep falling off, and they are too groovy to lose.
By James Dean
Too Much Glue
Unstick this messy situation as Matty gets creative in art class.
By Jason Lefebvre
The Paper Dolls
Stay connected with the paper dolls as they play with imagination. Take care though - there may be danger snipping around.
By Julia Donaldson
Charlie Needs a Cloak
Weave your way through this story with Charlie, as he finds a way to make a new cloak.
By Tomo dePaola
My Incredible Knitting Nana
Follow Nana around the world and find out how far she goes with a piece of wool.
By Rowena Blyth
Iggy Peck Architect
Imagine the most marvellous creations with Iggy, as he builds with … anything he can get his hands on!
By Andrea Beaty
Kama’s Lei
Discover how Kama gets creative and finds a way to make a lei, with only three flowers.
By Robin Montgomery
Changes, Changes
Turn the pages in this wordless picture book and be inspired! Nothing stays the same for long - it’s all about change, change, change.
By Pat Hutchins
Beautiful Oops!
Change isn’t alway intentional. Mistakes can lead to transformative joy too!
By Barney Saltzberg
Mix it Up!
Explore changing colours, with your fingers and a little dot of paint!
By Hervé Tullet
Watch as Tad’s brothers and sisters change and disappear one by one. What about Tad though?
By Benji Davies
I Can Be Anything
See how the girl uses her body to change, and become many things from around her home.
By Shinsuke Yoshitake
Mixed up Fairy Tales
Flick the pages, split the pages and change the story!
By Hilary Robinson
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Explore transformation through life cycles in this classic story.
By Eric Carle
Wemberly’s Ice-Cream Star
Change can happen drip by drip as we see in this story.
By Kevin Henkes

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Lisa Kane
Lisa Kane
Lisa is a passionate early years educator, having found her way into the field after being fascinated by the rapid and wondrous development in the first years of her own children’s lives. Following these curiosities has taken her through a degree and post-grad in Early Years education, and clocking up over 20 years of hands-on experience in a variety of international school settings. Lisa believes that learning is co-constructed alongside the smallest humans, and is energised by the curiosity, awe and wonder they generate.
Disclaimer - This resource has been produced independently of and not endorsed by the IB. Toddle’s resources seek to encourage sharing of perspectives and innovative ideas for classroom teaching & learning. They are not intended to be replacements for official IB guides and publications. Views and opinions expressed by the authors of these resources are personal and should not be construed as official guidance by the IB. Please seek assistance from your school’s IB coordinator and/or refer to official IB documents before implementing ideas and strategies shared within these resources in your classroom.