Popular Children’s Book, Thunder Cake, with Activities

https://thesmilelines.com, Thunder Cake Baking and Painting with Corks Activities


Yesterday was Mother’s Day and the sun was shining!  The news said rain was expected, but the sky was clear.  I snuck out for a little Mom time and made it home just before the sky turned dark!  The clouds came fast, lightning, big claps of thunder and giant rain drops.  My boys were very nervous.  Every time the thunder clapped, they jumped.  As we sat on the couch together, I had a flashback of the activities I used to do with the popular children’s book Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco.  I was telling my kids about my students but did not have a copy of the book.  We were actually able to find the book on Youtube, and the person that read it aloud was great!  You can see each picture and page of the book.  The kids were completely into it!

I didn’t have activities planned, so this was a go with the flow book read, and it worked out great!  My children are 5 and 3 years old, so the level of activities was not deep.  There are many activities you can get really into with this book if you have older children.  I will include additional extensions for older children at the end.


Before the Reading

Get them excited:

I explained the book is about a little girl named Patricia and her Babushka (Grandma).  The story is about Patricia being scared (thunder), and her grandma would help her to be brave.  The kids immediately said that they were very scared of the thunder and could already connect with the character already.


During the Reading

Math Connection:

There is a sequence of counting, throughout the book, to track the distance of the storm.  Each time there is a count, one number drops off showing the storm is closer.  The kids counted aloud and soon saw the pattern.  They were able to take one number off the chain of numbers each time it was said in the story.  This was a great sequence activity and reinforcement of counting for my three year old!

Example: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Next : 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and so on.


Deep Thinking Questions:

Why is Patricia hiding under her bed?

Why do you think Patricia is scared of the cow?

What do you predict the secret ingredient will be?

Why do you think Patricia is smiling at the end of the story?

How do you think Patricia feels about her Babushka?


After Reading

Thunder Cake Baking:

To make it quick and easy, we made a box of brownies in a round pan and put strawberries on our Thunder Cake.  One thing I tried to let go of is making the cake perfect.  This is their cake, so I let them stir the mixture way too much…  Bubbles formed which would usually make me cringe but who cares!  They were loving being in charge of their Thunder Cake.

In the book, Patricia finds the secret ingredient for the cake (ripe tomatoes).

Pretend– What secret ingredient would you put into your thunder cake?  

How would it change the taste of your cake??

Robbie decided on pickles and Danny chose syrup.  We pretended to add the secret ingredients while we baked.

The cake came out great tasting and completely lopsided.  It had a crack in it which actually looked like lightning!  Score!  haha.


popular children's book


Read Again and Activity

The next day the kids had a piece of their Thunder Cake after school.  They asked if we could listen to the story again.  That was my plan all along so that worked out perfectly!

Character Change:

After reading, I quickly created an activity by setting out two faces I had drawn of Patricia.  One face was smiling and the other one was crying.

  • Pick up a face and describe the part of the story that Patricia felt that way in.
  • Tell me more about what specifically caused her to feel this way.  Why?

I jotted down the words that he said around each face.

Danny loved that I was able to read all of the things he said about Patricia’s feelings.  He was proud they were his own words.  We talked about the character changing from scared to brave from the beginning to the end.


popular children's book



Extension Ideas:

For older children or further activities you might try the following:

  • Studying the historical aspects of Jewish immigrants.
  • Locating Russia and Ukraine on the map.
  • Sequencing the events of the story.
  • Discussing each farm animals in the story and their contribution to the Thunder Cake.
  • Leave the volume off or cover the words on the book.  The children can read you the story in their own words.
  • Discuss times they have had strong emotions and how they could cope with those feelings.
  • Write a thank you letter to Babushka, as if you were Patricia, detailing the events and emotions from the story.
  • Paint a thunderstorm picture.
  • Continue with sequencing activities with higher, more complicated numbers.


Have fun reading!

Let me know of a popular children’s book that you enjoy reading!

Spread the Smiles


  1. Katherine | 15th May 17

    You are an awesome mom!!

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