Simple bike ride turns into an adventure with a Gruffalo, fairies, a magical wood, dinosaur bones, and a scary forest

by Matthew Worwood

I was recently at Cape Cod on a family vacation. Apart from my three-year-old catching Pink Eye it was a delightful and relaxing experience. One of the best things about going on holiday is the opportunity to spend quality time with the family, more importantly, the little ones. My three-year-old terror can be a handful, but his imagination is something I cherish dearly; it helped turn a simple bike ride into an adventure with a Gruffalo, fairies, a magical wood, dinosaur bones, and a scary forest.
My brother-in-law was kind enough to offer his bike that comes with a little seat for Lucas to sit on. The two of us, bursting with excitement, embarked on our first bike journey around a little beachside community in Mashpee. As we traveled down a path, we eventually came to some woodland. At first, Lucas was a little scared, calling it a scary forest that has scary skeletons. Still, I decided to challenge his imagination to go beyond this current obsession and develop other things that might live in the treacherous forest that was emerging around us. To my delight, as it’s my favorite picture book, he decided that we were in the deep dark wood where the Gruffalo lives, well, not just one, lots of them. They were popping up all over the place, and poor Daddy had to peddle quickly to escape them. After my legs began to burn I needed a change in the adventure’s setting. With a bit of encouragement, we eventually crossed into a magical forest with fairies and dinosaur bones in the form of broken branches on trees. I was thrilled with the fairies as they cast dancing spells on the Gruffalos, which meant I didn’t have to peddle away every time we saw one. Also, the fairies froze the scary skeletons, so my son didn’t have to fear them as much. Eventually, the son began to set, and it was time to make our way home.

On the way back, our creative efforts turned away from the adventure above and toward the arts. We sang a bunch of songs. First, we started with a song about Scary Skeletons, but soon we sang songs about bones and dancing princess skeletons (they got back in there at the end). It became a fantastic bike ride that would compete with any afternoon at Disney’s Magical Kingdom. However, more importantly, and to the reason for this article, leading questions from Daddy provide an excellent opportunity to nurture my little pal’s already creative imagination.

Matthew Worwood
Matthew Worwood is an educator, Creative Studies scholar-practitioner, and co-host of the Fueling Creativity in Education podcast. He is a professor of Digital Media Design at the University of Connecticut and a husband and proud father to three young boys.

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