Seven Ways to Get Smarter While You SWAP!

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The story doesn’t have to end after you reach the final page. Here are seven Swap! activities that will take you beyond the book and support learning and exploring the book’s big ideas in the process!


Act out the SWAP! story by having children stand on their own “islands” around the room. Use construction paper, toys, or props to supply each islander with the appropriate items (hats, sails, oars, birds, etc.) Follow the map in the endpapers to make all the trades!


Draw maps of places you would go to SWAP! Maybe your child would go to a neighbor’s house, then to school, then to the ice cream shop, then to the zoo. Suddenly he’s swapped his sister for a lizard and a quart of rainbow sherbet!


Learn money math while practicing your swapping skills. Have kids trade pennies for nickels, nickels for dimes and so on. For a more structured version of this activity, check out the Trading Up! Game printables on


Play Port to Port, a free app from the makers of American Girl. Don’t be fooled – this is NOT just for girls. This game is set in New York state during the War of 1812, when British ships were limiting colonial trade. Players must sail, (you guessed it) from port to port, avoiding the British while collecting the supplies their town needs at the best prices.


Learn more about bartering by playing Would You Survive? provides a free printable card game and instructions. Kids barter to get all the supplies settlers would need to survive. This game is great for kids 8 and up.


Host a Book Swap Party and let kids trade old books for new (to them) books! Melissa at HoneybeeBooks makes it look easy with her 6 tips for hosting a children’s book swap party!


Watch this old Schoolhouse Rock! video about bartering and trade. The lyrics to “This For That” are so catchy that you might just find yourself humming “I’ll give you this for that / That for this / We’ll make a trade called “barter” / I’ll give you this for that/ That for this/ We’ll have it made with barter.

Be sure to check out our ALL THE WONDERS of Swap! page for much more, including a look inside the book, a video tour of Steve’s NYC apartment studio, an edible craft, a podcast interview with Steve Light, and a giveaway of a hand-drawn illustration from Swap!

About the Author

Katey Howes

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Katey Howes is a children's author, literacy advocate, and fun mother. She blogs about raising kids who love to read and creating a culture of readers on her blog, Kateywrites. Katey has two forthcoming picture books: Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press) and Magnolia Mudd (Sterling Children's Books.) You can find her on Twitter @kateywrites and on Instagram @kidlitlove sharing her passion for #RaisingReaders.

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