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by Dr. Donna Phillips
Sometime in August we will be looking back at January’s and February’s frigid weather and wishing we could have just a bit of it back. But, right now, it is the thought of those hot, sunny days that keeps us going. If you and your children have had it with snow days, winter coats, messy boots, frozen noses, or just trying to make the best of things, you might be looking for activities to help you keep busy indoors. Activity books that come complete with all the materials needed plus directions are a favorite with everyone. Here are some ideas for you.
Do you have an aspiring animator in your household? If you do, Animation Studio (Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2013, $19.99) written by Helen Piercy and illustrated by Mark Ruffle, Michael Slack, and Katrin Wiehle, is the perfect choice. This kit, designed for kids ages 8 and up, includes a book with 16 chapters that include such titles as: What is Animation? Creating a Character, Story Telling, Board Animation, Clay Animation, Sets and Props, Pixilation, and Editing. This is a great package for those interested in creating stop-motion pictures using a cell phone or a digital camera. It also comes with a reversible stage, press out puppets, props and animation devices, storyboard sheets, backdrops, and a Director’s Handbook. This set promises hours of interest and activity that will educate, enlighten, and entertain — and everyone can enjoy the final product! Simply put, this is sooooo cool!!!
Toolbox Jewelry (Klutz/Scholastic, New York, 2013, $21.99) by Kaitlyn Nichols, is a kit that both girls and boys, ages 8 and up, may find appealing, since the jewelry is made out of hardware! This kit includes hex nuts, star washers, star washer nuts, washers, lamp hex nuts, wing nuts, beads, retaining rings, earring wires, and colored cords of different widths. The instruction book that comes with it has ten different designs and inspiration for many more. Replacement parts are easily available at the local hardware store. This is one of the most unique jewelry kits you will encounter and it is sure to keep your children engaged in many hours of creative fun.
Your children might also enjoy Nail Style Studio (Klutz/Scholastic, New York, 2013, $24.99) by Eva Steele-Saccio. This activity kit, designed for ages 10 and up, comes with 6 bottles of non-toxic, peel-off nail polish, a custom design tool, over 250 stick-on stencils, and a book of designs, instructions, and inspiration. There are ideas for dot decorations, pictures nails, cute animal and object designs, and cool stick on stencil designs. It includes information on nail and hand care and best ways to paint nails. The peel-off nail polish is perfect for younger girls and a safe way to practice perfect skills for using regular nail polish. This will certainly provide hours of creative entertainment and has tips that even grown-ups can use. This could be a fun “spa” day activity for a cold and snowy day.
Some children delight in reading about and sharing world records. The 2014 Book of World Records (Scholastic interesting world, New York, 2014, $10.99) by Jenifer Corr Morse is a colorful cruise through some of the most records that cover sports, pop culture, nature, technology, money, and records held by each state in the union. This book can answer questions like:
• What is the most popular dog breed in the United States?
• What is the largest global franchise?
• What is the bestselling digital song of all time?
• What is the place with the fastest winds?
• Who is the runner with the fastest mile?
This book is guaranteed to provide hours of conversation and curiosity satisfaction. I can’t think of a better way to have children (and parents) interact and, as a result, the complaints of boredom and “cabin fever” will be few and far between.
Your bookstore, library, and even the Internet may have just what you are looking for to be able to pass the cold and dark winter hours. With a bit of Irish luck we may find ourselves at the end of the rainbow (and the month) as the winter that roared in like a lion, and stayed too long, went out like a lamb. Until then keep warm and busy. These books should help!
Dr. Donna Phillips is an associate professor in the Education Department of Niagara University. Her specialty is children’s literature and literacy. She lives on Grand Island, NY and is the mother of two adult children. She is a long-time contributor to WNY Family.