Activity Books for Bored Children

I’m away on a fabulous writing retreat thanks to the graciousness of Weymouth, whose Writers-in-Residence Program offers NC writers two weeks a year to pursue their work.

Why do I go away when it’s plenty quiet at home? There’s something magical about this beauty of the surroundings, unscheduled time where is there plenty of time for everything–mostly writing! It’s been cold outside and toasty inside.

For me, this blend has been fabulous, but thinking about parents with housebound children and longer hours of dark, I thought some of you might like to see my kinda-sorta best of activity books. This is from a piece I published in the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News and Observer in December.

The last days of vacation can be brutal as bored children and tired parents wait for school routines to resume. These new activity books will provide a perfect diversion.

Capture reflections in a journal

Girls can learn about one another and create a memory book as they answer intriguing questions in Dawn DeVries Soklo’sDoodle Circle: A Fill-in Journal for BFFs to Share (Abrams, ages 8 and up)

Similarly, 300 survey questions lead to fun and understanding in Karen Phillips’ It’s All About Us (… Especially Me!) (Klutz Press, ages 8 and up).

Lea Redmond’s My Museum: A Journal for Sketching and Collecting (Chronicle, ages 6 and up) is a hardcover book that offers opportunities for aspiring artists to fill drawings of empty frames and display cases.

Young fashionistas can track designs in Karen Phillips’ Fashionably Me: A Journal That’s Just My Style (Klutz, ages 9 and up). Thoughtful questions and intriguing fill-ins make room for doodles, drawings and photos that reflect personal styles and attitudes.

Art projects are superb for kids with a creative streak

Younger artists will enjoy April Chorba’s kit, Pom-Pom Puppies: Make Your Own Adorable Dogs (Klutz, ages 5 and up). Those who crush on canines can craft a whole kennel of cuddly pups with the provided yarn, bead eyes, foam tongues, tiny bows and more.

Japanese artist Junzo Terada’s Instant Ornaments (Chronicle, ages 6 and up) gives directions for children to assemble owls, squirrels and more from colorful cardstock.

Thank you notes might be more inspiring when they begin with self-produced cards. Klutz Press’ Stencil Art (ages 8 and up) comes with note cards, eight colors of ink dabbers and 72 shapes to inspire designs.

Girls can repurpose hardware like washers and hex nuts into miraculous metal finery with directions and materials from Kaitlyn Nichols’ Toolbox Jewelry (Klutz, ages 8 and up).

To complete a glamorous look, there’s Eva Steele-Saccio’s  Nail Style Studio: Simple Steps to Painting 25 Stunning Designs(Klutz, ages 9 and up), which comes with polish, 250 stencils and 60 pages of suggestions.

Prepare tots for school with activity books that teach with playfulness

Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s I Scream Ice Cream! A Book of Wordles (Chronicle, ages 6-9) are puzzles built from words that sound the same, but mean different things. One page, for example, shows caped superheroes and a page turn reveals the next wordle, a man in a boat labeled “He rows.”

Some of America’s cleverest children’s book creators contribute to The Goods: Games and Activities for Big Kids, Little Kids and Medium-Sized Kids (McSweeney’s, ages 9 and up). Puzzles, jumbles and comics offer thought and laughter.

John Litton’s Mesmerizing Math (Templar, ages 7-10) accents the fun of math with pop-ups, playful explanations of concepts, games and projects.

Animals, children’s favorite subject, are as visually exciting as the activities in National Geographic’s Cutest Animal Sticker Activity Book (NG, ages 4-6) and Animal Creativity Book: Cut-outs, Games, Stencils and Stickers (NG, ages 6-9).


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