How to Catch a Star

Teach perseverance and problem-solving with a focus on fine motor skills, language relating to shape, colour, size and pattern, using ‘How to Catch a Star’ by Oliver Jeffers.

You will Need:

  • Self-adhesive foam stars
  • Alternative self-adhesive foam shapes (optional)
  • Play sand
  • Tweezers
  • Paper strips
  • Play tray, sand-pit or container


  • Bury the foam stars and other shapes beneath the sand.
  • Ask your child to use the tweezers to hunt for the shapes. (You could ask them to pretend they are digging for treasure or going on an archaeological dig perhaps). Encourage your child not to use their other hand. Using the tweezers only will help them to develop their pincer grip, which is necessary for holding a pencil when writing.
  • Discuss the characteristics of the shapes that are found – think colours, sizes, names, number of edges, corners, etc. “What can you tell me about this shape?”
  • Once all or several shapes have been found, support your child to stick them onto paper strips to create different patterns. Patterns could be size, colour or shape related. Talk about their ideas. Model your own different ones. can they predict which shapes might come next?

Sand hunt play prompt

questions to extend the learning

  • What can you tell me about this shape?
  • How many sides/edges/corners/vertices does it have?
  • What might you call this shape?
  • How might you compare this shape to that one?
  • Is it bigger/smaller/larger/wider/narrower?
  • Does it have more/fewer edges/corners?
  • How might you use these shapes to male a pattern?
  • Which colour might go next? Why?
  • What might the 3rd/4th/10th shape be in this pattern? How do you know?
  • How might you make a pattern using small and large stars?
  • How have you used problem-solving in this activity?
  • What have you persevered with today?

Making patterns with foam shapes Hunting for foam shapes in sand

A Sneaky snapshot

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