Thursday, March 31, 2011

School holiday ideas for parents: 5 books chocker block full of ideas or activities you can do as a family

List by Tosca

"A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.
- Bill Vaughan

This is true! As a child the best activities mum organised were the ones that cost next to nothing, usually ideas she'd gotten out of books. We forever had those 'Things to do on a rainy day' kind of books around the house. Considering my mum had eight children and seven of them were always underfoot, I don't know how she handled school holidays and stayed sane. I don't ever remember being idle, though. I have memories of mum arranging daily activities to keep us busy which is probably why now, as adults, we try to do the same with the nephews/niece. Every school holiday each of my sisters (and mum until she moved away - wait, was this *why* she moved away?) agrees to take the kids for a day and entertain them. How you choose to spend that time is wholly up to you. I tend to go one of two ways: throw money at it and take the kids to Kelly Tarlton's or the Auckland Zoo and ooh and aahh over creatures and generally run screaming through the grounds (you've probably seen me and didn't even realise it) OR put a bit of thought into it and draw up a day of activities and crafts. The last few years have seen the return of books that advocate retro family fun - the kind of fun we had as kids before technology took over: hopscotch, charades, magic tricks, gift-making, fishing, and so on. For the next few days leading up to the school holidays I'll be recommending books that will give you some great ideas for keeping the kids busy. Today's post is a collection of books that focus on crafts and activities you can do with dad, with mum or as a family. They're also books that I'll be using for my day with the kids. Wish me luck. I may need it.



Family fun activity book / Bob "Captain Kangaroo" Keeshan
Wonderful collection of activities for children - and their parents - to get involved in. Hundreds of things to make, do, play and see; all developed to maximise creativity, imagination, learning fun and play value. Intended for families to use together.

Tosca's comment: I've never heard of Captain Kangaroo but I did like Keeshan's intro, particularly the bit where he writes that 'Playing with children is an integral part of quality time. Playing together - not to see who wins, but to learn and grow - is an excellent way for families to make great use of precious time.' The activities are arranged into categories: Arts & crafts; Toys & playsets; Action games; Quiet(er) games and Let's pretend - so there's a bit of something for everyone. My fav would have to be the one that appeals to me for its mess factor: mosaic marvels which you can make with coloured popcorn. Coloured popcorn! The (sometimes not so) hidden 5 year old in me SQUEES with delight. I think the nephews are going to LOVE this one!

Come on, Dad! : 75 things for fathers and sons to do together / Ed Avis
The perfect gift for Father's Day, this activity book is packed with fun ways for young boys and their dads to spend time together. Dads are famous for being fun, but even the most active father can use some new ideas! From concocting secret codes and crafting homemade musical instruments to camping out in the backyard and making personal pizzas, Come on, Dad! 75 Things for Father and Sons to Do Together features creative games and projects that will fill an afternoon with fun, and create lasting memories for young boys and their fathers. Each activity is accompanied by easy-to-follow instructions, a materials needed list, and suggestions on how to "make it easier" and "make it harder" depending on the age and ability of the child. Sample activities: Personal Pizzas, Paper Air Force, Time Capsule, Take it Apart, Family Story Collection, Math Olympics, Beach Memories, Obstacle Race, Recycled City, Personal Place Mats, Shopping Alphabet, Twirl Pictures, Leafy Fun.

Tosca's comment: Shaving, mini-golf, baking cookies, making slime, dabbling in photo collage, learning to express opinions in a straightforward manner, water fights, treasure hunts, face painting, planting trees, constructing bird feeders and boats - dads can teach you all sorts of things. There's an interesting mix of suggested activities (some of which can be done with mum, too, well maybe not the shaving unless it's of the legs?). There are lots of little life lessons within. My fav would be the holiday scrapbook activity, it makes me wonder if I can do that now as an adult.

Things to do with mum / Alison Maloney
Packed with fun activities that mums and children can enjoy indoors and out, this book shows how to start your own slime factory; have a go at giddy running; make your very own teddy mascot; set sail with orange jelly boats; deck the halls with homemade garlands; have bags of fun with an old pair of jeans; and, rustle up a leafy autumn scene.

Tosca's comment: There's no way my mum and I would've tried everything in this book. I mean, I don't want to clean china without her let alone with her (not that we had china anyway) and there's no way I would've been able to make rice/pasta pictures without thinking about how she'd worry about children who were starving and there I'd be playing with food (dried food, but still food). The only activity I could find that I know my mum and I would happily have done together is (and don't laugh) collecting frogspawn and watching them turn into tadpoles and then frogs LOL I think maybe this book was too girly for me but hopefully a perfect fit for someone else. My favs from this book are: make a super scrunchie; banana loaf; meet Mr Turf Top (which involves cutting up mum's tights, apparently, which is always fun, no...?).

Things to do with dad : bundles of fun for everyone / Chris Stevens
"If you're sometimes stuck for ideas for entertaining the kids then Things To Do With Dad will be a useful read. Packed full of indoor and outdoor activities that will captivate both kids and dads alike" -- Publisher's description.

Tosca's comment: While my dad would not have taught me any capoeira moves (p38) there's a lot of other stuff in this book he did do with me: fishing, road trips, stone-skimming, sending messages in bottles and gurning. These activities can be tried with mum, too. My favs from this book are: make a canine cake; create a cloud.

The family book : amazing things to do together / edited by Philippa Wingate
The Family Book is a cornucopia of entertaining activities that everyone can enjoy. Presented as a grab-bag of ideas and suggestions, it touches on many different occasions: weekday evenings, summer holidays, birthdays, school breaks, and even when someone in the family is laid up in bed recovering from illness.

Tosca's comment: Activities that range from saving energy as a family to riddles and brain teasers to singing rounds together. My favs from this book are: how to go tobogganing if you don't have a toboggan (after all, who has a toboggan in South Auckland?); how to tell if dad has been replaced by an alien overnight; what not to do at family gatherings and how to convince people you are a family of vampires.

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