Strega Nona Pretend Play

Mother and son reading a picture book about animals together

This activity promotes development and learning by encouraging children to demonstrate use of creativity and imagination in learning and play.

Materials Needed:

  • Strega Nona by Tomie DePaula
  • Props such as a pot, a spoon, a broom, or some pasta
  • Paper
  • Stapler
  • Writing tools

Participants: This activity is intended for independent play and adult/child interaction,


  1. Read Strega Nona by Tomie DePaula or watch Mary Steenburgen perform it at Storyline Online. Talk with your child about the story. What advice can you give Big Anthony? What could he have done instead? What food would you wish for if you had a magic pot? Did anything surprise you about the story?
  2. Read the story again over several days if your child is interested. Offer a few props, such as a pot, a spoon, a broom, and some pasta, and help your child act it out. Can you remember the song?
  3. Fold and staple paper to make a book. Help your child write a story about Strega Nona. Younger children can dictate the story as you write, and then add illustrations. Older children can write their own version, perhaps including different food or a different ending.

Extensions: Folk stories like Strega Nona naturally spark imagination and learning. What else would your child like to do and learn? Perhaps you’ll learn a few words in Italian, make some pasta dishes, or find Italy on a map. Offer a bucket of water and ladle outside and let your child fetch water. Combine oil and water in a glass along with food coloring and see what happens. Listen to accordion music or make an accordion book. Read other folk stories from around the world.

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Mother and son reading a picture book about animals together

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