Warm up inside with these activity books

These winter months give us plenty of opportunities to try out some ideas for indoor fun. I hope you will enjoy some of these suggestions. As for me, I’m ready to start another afghan.

WILD CRITTERS: BUILD AND IMAGINE YOUR OWN 3-D ADVENTURES KIT, by Dottie Wang, Walter Foster Publishing, $14.95; ages 6 and up.

First read the story about the wild critters—an elephant, kangaroo, zebra and giraffe. Then punch out the corrugated cardboard pieces for the animals and glue them together. You supply the glue. When the glue is dry, paint the pictures. Using the story board, you are ready to tell your own story about the animals you have just created.

SHRINK ART JEWELRY, by Karen Phillips, Klutz, $24.95; ages 12 and up.

You will have great fun if you make your own designs for jewelry using shrink art plastic. Draw a design on the plastic, add color with pencils, punch a hole and watch it shrink in the oven. Be sure to have adult supervision when using the oven. String the designs, add some beads, and you can create a necklace or earrings. Materials are included for several pieces of each. Other supplies you will need include scissors, pliers, colored pencils, dish to hold beads, baking sheet and oven mitt.


Using either of these two boxes, you can follow along with step-by-step instructions and learn to draw zoo animals or pets. Each card shows you how to do two different poses. Each box contains 31 different cards, a pad for drawing and colored pencils. It looks easy when you can see the finished animals using these instructions.

ANGORA, I'M KNOT JUST FLUFF, I'M ALWAYS ENOUGH, by Gary Scholar, BinkyHenri Press, $19.95, www.angorathebunny.com; ages 5-10. 

Angora is trying very hard to learn to dance. But when she should be doing a hip hippity hop all she can manage is a flip flippity flop. Madame La Hare is very disappointed to have a student without rhythm. Mom teaches Angora how to knit dance leg warmers and explains there is magic in the carrot knitting needles. The rhythm comes for Angora as she repeats the verse mom teaches her as she knits. When one of the bunnies becomes ill and can’t perform in the dance recital, Angora, wearing her magic leg warmers, takes her place. The story is written with lots of play on words, including Jasmine the skunk, her friend with common scents. The author, who lives in Chicago, also includes the pattern for leg warmers. Follow this pattern for an easy project when learning to knit.

FAMILY NIGHT! (FAMILYSTORIES), by Susan Magsamen, Sterling, $17.95; ages 3 and up.

Has your family shared a family activity night lately? This handy box contains a game board, cards, dice, chips and the directions for playing a few familiar games including backgammon and checkers along with ideas for other evening activities. With the modern technology available today, we sometimes forget the value of"old-fashioned games.” Even the youngest child can learn about counting and colors. Children learn strategies and about winning and losing. Pick a night and take turns picking the activity. Most of all, have fun.

JUST FOR ME! MY REALLY COOL SCRAPBOOK, text by Kitty Richards, illustrations by Pattie Silver-Thompson, LBkids, $12.99; ages 7-12.

Scrapbooking isn’t just for adults. Kids can create a place to save their own memories with this scrapbook. Have fun going through all the pictures that have been taken over the years as you help your child choose ones to include. There are pages to record favorite activities, vacations and pets. Besides the picture suggestions, you’ll find four pages of stickers to place in the scrapbook as well. Have the kids leave some room at the end so they can continue to add to the scrapbook for years to come.

Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent’s children’s book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher with four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6.

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