Although I get a lot of my inspiration fo kids activities from the internet, I love to have a few books around too. I guess it’s because I love books so much. F enjoys flicking through them too. At just 4, a book is more accessible for her and I love that we can look through them together and pick out things to do. These books are also good for encouraging older children to read. They could read the activity instructions, alone or with help. Anything that encourages a love of books and reading is a winner in my eyes. Here are our current favourite 5 creative activity books for kids.
Tinkerslab – A hands-on guide for little inventors, Rachel Doorley
I’m a long-time reader of the blog Tinkerlab. Tinkering is all about children exploring and learning to problem solve which is what they naturally do if given the chance. This book guides you through creating a space for children to create and tinker in (a ‘Tinkerlab’), selecting supplies and tools and how to create habits that encourage creativity. After that, the rest of the book is over 50 ideas for you to try at home. They are clearly and simply explained, with lots of full-colour photos throughout. The activities (experiments) are grouped into four areas. Design, Build, Concoct and Discover. Each section not only includes activities but also interviews and essays in relevant areas such as the value of loose parts, 10 lessons the arts teach and building tomorrow’s innovators through hands-on making.
I quickly read this book cover to cover when I purchased it last year and came away so inspired. Flicking through it again to write this review has made me want to read it through again. Example experiments include paint experiments, ice and salt exploration, lemon invisible ink, scavenger hunts and a DIY lightbox (we love ours).
The artful parent: Simple ways to fill your family’s life with art and creativity. Jean Van’t Hul
This is another book by an American blogger. I’m sure you will have come across the artful parent blog. If not I urge you to go and check it out (after finishing reading this blog post obviously). This book starts by explaining why art is so important for children followed by chapters on preparing for art. This covers things like what is process art? making space for art, suggestions for art supplies as well as talking about art with children and other ways to be artful such as cooking together, music and getting outdoor adventures.
The rest of the book is suggestions for 61 activities which are split into 7 chapters. First foray into art, quick and easy art, getting fancy, action art, quiet activities for downtime and transitions, art for playdates, parties and groups and homemade art material to make and enjoy. Finally, there is resources section with suggested art materials, books about art, other parenting books, books for children and creative blogs. This was the first of these 5 books I purchased when F was a toddler. We have enjoyed various activities from this book such as contact paper suncatchers, homemade play dough, body tracing and painting, spin art and marble rolling paint.
Each activity is clearly explained and where possible variations are suggested. For each activity, Jean gives a recommendation of the suitable minimum age. There are lots of photos throughout the book to inspire you too.
Curious Jane – Science + design + engineering for inquisitive girls
I’m all for encouraging girls to get into science and love the idea of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics). This book is packed with bright and colourful photos and illustrations that are sure to grab children’s attention. Curious Jane is aimed at girls between 6 and 11 years old but my eldest is 4 and some of the activities are suitable for her already. Some of the activities would appeal to boys as well but some of them are clearly aimed at girly girls so worth bare in mind as I don’t think all girls will necessarily want to make face masks, foot scrubs and bath salts.
There are 34 activities grouped into 5 categories. DIY double time (fast activities), spa science, engineering 101, spy science and DIY your room. F loved our rain storm in a jar and also chromatography. When she is a bit older, I look forward to doing activities such as making a draw bot, exploring the components of blood (using syrup and sweets to represent the different components) and screen printing.
The big book of 100 little activities, Laura Minter & Tia Williams
ISBN 978-1-78494-245-8. RRP £14.99
Do you know the blog Little Button Diaries? well, this is their book. It’s a lovely bright and colourful book, packed full of 100 activities for you to try with your little ones. It starts with a brief introduction including some suggested supplies and a few tips on crafting with children. The activities are grouped into nature lovers, messy makes, rainy day, sunny day, little laboratory, paint and print, playing and performing and dressing up. Many of the activities were not new to me but they are a great reminder of activities we might have seen or even remember from our own childhood such as flower press cards, bug hunting, goop, paper weaving, cardboard rockets and pipe-cleaner crowns. This book is very inviting for young children to look through and pick the activities they want to do.
You might also remember I reviewed their latest book The Pirate craft book a few months back.
101 things for kids to do outside. Dawn Isaac.
This book is full of ideas for activities for kids to do in the garden, the park or at the beach. There is everything from games like skipping games to crafts such as making a weather vane or painting rocks. Each activity includes clear directions and gorgeous photos. There is something in here for kids of all ages. My 4 year old enjoyed drawing on our patio with chalks last week and bark rubbing. Older children will love activities like building a climbing bean wigwam or water balloon pinata.
What about you, do you have a favourite book or blog for creative children’s activity inspiration?
I have various Pinterest boards that might be useful to you including Creative families, sensory play, process art and STEM.
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Disclosure – We were sent The big book of 100 little activities and Curious Jane to review. The other three books were purchased by myself. All thoughts, opinions and photos are my own.