Book reviews - activity books (page 7)

There are all sorts of activity books available now, some of them featuring characters from well-known children's stories. They can be a very good way to get your child involved with books. This section includes lots of great ideas for entertaining your children at home - many of which will support the work done in school - so do try some of them to encourage and develop your child's creativity. There are also books which involve children as they try to solve the puzzles.

Italy - Children's Travel Activity and Keepsake Book from Tinytourists

Tinytourists is all about inspiring family travel and making the most of adventures; keeping travel meaningful and memorable, educational and fun. Each book offers 5 benefits; they keep children entertained on long journeys, make travel more meaningful by opening their eyes to some of the different things they may see, introduce simple vocabulary, practice key maths, literacy and observation skills in a themed and fun way, and to create an on-the-go journal keepsake with plenty of space to record memories - written, stuck or drawn.

We were looking forward to receiving this travel activity book, and whilst we weren't jetting off to Italy we did however, have a lovely break in the Isle of Wight so I put my 4 and 6 year old reviewers to work!

Travel 1

At the beginning of the book you are introduced to your travel buddy, 'Topher', named after St. Christopher who is the Patron Saint of Travellers (try and spot him throughout the book). On the next page you can design your own suitcase and write your name on the luggage tag. The following page is a handy description of how to use the book. It shows you symbols to look out for and a list of Italian words with the phonetic spellings underneath. The page also explains to adults which part of the curriculum the activities are designed to support. There are around 40 pages of activities and puzzles to complete which are completely different but all have a link to the Italy theme, from guiding a gondola through a water maze, to matching pizza toppings and counting Ferraris.

The whole book is brilliantly illustrated, it keeps to one activity per page, the design and layout is very effective as it is simple yet engaging for a child and the huge variety of activities ensures your child won't get bored. Towards the end of the book there are spaces for you to create your own travel collage by sticking in momentos from your travels such as leaflets, tickets and drawings. There are pages for you to write about the things you both did, and didn't like about your trip.

Travel 2

From a parents' point of view, the best thing about this book is the educational value and the brilliant way it shows you how the activities link back to the curriculum. Children will build on observational skills and recall what they have seen, learn simple Italian vocabulary along with mark making and number recognition to name just a few of the key skills supported.

The Tinytourists Travel Activity Book consists of 54 high quality pages, bound in a glossy cover which is made up using a combination of illustrator and child-drawn images to reflect the idea of seeing the world through a child's eyes. The Tinytourists books are available to buy for Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Lanzarote and Tenerife.

Tinytourists Travel Activity Books are aimed at children from ages 3 - 6 years old, they retail at £7.99 and can be purchased from Amazon. For more information you can take a look at

Travel 3

Make It Kids' Craft: Rainbow Origami from Carlton Books

Eight origami shapes in the seven colours of the rainbow are here to be created by following the clear step-by-step instructions, with projects ranging from Easy to Medium and Experienced levels. There are plenty of sheets of paper included and the book is really appealing with its excellent colour photos which will inspire creativity. What really makes this book stand out from others is the fact that each of the eight projects can be made up in all of the seven rainbow colours included - so you can have, for example a heart garland, a frog hop game and a crane mobile - all great ways of using those creations. A super book which will really encourage anyone, young or old, to try origami - or to refine their skills.

Origami Hearts

Scientist Academy by Steve Martin

There's lots of hands-on experience in this book 0 and that's the way to encourage children to engage with science. Children can learn the essential skills to start their own scientific journey with this fun and engaging title, which is perfect to support and extend KS2 science learning. The book is an engrossing mix of facts and practical activities, and full of great illustrations.Divided into six sections - Laboratory, Investigative, Space, Earth, and Life - it's easy to find topics that support specific learning. Or simply enjoy the book from the beginning. The practical projects are carefully designed to introduce skills of the sort required by real-life scientists. Just some of the projects - make a sundial, a weather vane and a map. There are stickers, both to mark progress and to complete challenges, as well as other puzzles to enjoy. A super book with so much packed in - it will keep children happy for hours.

Ophelia Pang's Interactive Art Book

Children often need a boost to their confidence when it comes to drawing and painting, and this is just the book to do that. It's an ingenious interactive art book that uses simple shapes to create stunning creative designs. Ophelia Pang is a Hong Kong-based illustrator who loves to talk with colour and shape - and colour and shape are the key elements of this book. From single colour pictures to sophisticated colour combinations to mark-making, and paper cut-outs to simple drawings, this book will inspire anyone with a creative mind' giving them ideas that will remain long after they have read and completed the book. Also included is a section of colour strips that can be used as a reference for colour combinations, or pulled out and cut up. It's fascinating to see what can be done with shapes and the ideas are really accessible to anyone, even those who think they have no artistic talent - you may be surprised!

Lift-the-flap and Colour African Animals by Alice Bowsher

These are the latest titles in the Natural History Museum's innovative colouring in series for young animal enthusiasts. With heavy lines to make colouring in easy, children can left the flaps to extend the picture and discover what lies beneath. The book shows animals in their natural habitat, from the flat grasslands of the African savannah. Learning is extended further by the rhyming text which describes each picture. How about developing your child's research skills and looking for pictures of the animals so they can use the correct colours (not that there's anything wrong with imaginative use of colour!) and find out more about the creatures and their habitat. Unusaul and very enjoyable.

Lift-the-flap and Colour Forest by Alice Bowsher

In Forest, children lift the flaps to reveal animals in their natural habitat, from the forest floor to the treetops, then colour the pictures. Then read the accompanying rhyming text to learn about their environment. As well as being excellent colouring books for younger children, who will find the thick lines make for easy colouring, these books also encourage an inquisitiveness about the natural world. The rhyming text gives some basic information, on which children can build with the help of adults.

My Beautiful Room: Create, Decorate and Style by Jasmine Orchard and Olivia Whitworth

If you are thinking of redecorating a child or teen's bedroom, then I really recommend you get this book to inspire you and them. Written by a designer-illustrator duo, the book really showcases their experience and allows you to share in professional tips. It's all here from the basics of learning about colour and texture to decorating furniture, using pattern and personal inspiration. The principles of design in the book will be applicable to may other areas of life too. The book guides you through basic interior design theory, and helps you apply your new-found skills with original drawing challenges and super fun activities, including devising mood boards and creating floor plans. You can create a model of your ideal bedroom on the model made from the flaps of the book, build furniture from the templates given and finally decorate the room with the enclosed stickers - they really have thought of everything. A great resource for home use and a book that will also link well with school studies of Design and Technology

Sophie la girafe Rainbow Colours: Play-and-learn Sticker Book from DK

Many toddlers will be familiar with Sophie la Girafe from baby teethers, so they will love to meet her again in this colourful early learning sticker book all about colour. There's colouring, puzzles, sorting and matching - and plenty of stickers. Little ones will enjoy sharing familiar activities with Sophie as she plays at home, has a picnic, goes out and about, paints in the art room, and more. There are colouring and counting activities and shapes to spot and identify. A helpful Note for Parents explains how to use the book to the best advantage. What I particularly like about these books is the good size and simple shapes (ie square, round etc) of the stickers. So often, books for pre-schoolers have fiddly little stickers that lead to endless frustration, so these are really well thought out.

Sophie la girafe Fun First Words: Play-and-learn Sticker Book from DK

Once again, pre-schoolers can join Sophie as she enjoys familiar activities, including going shopping, playing music, having lunch and much more. All the activities are themed around words and children can enjoy finding stickers, following trails, colouring and counting - and, of course, naming familiar objects. An ideal book to start pre-schoolers learning about and recognising words.

Maze Hop: Around the World by Anna Brett

This is fascinating - it had me engrossed! It's much more than simply a book of mazes as we join George and his dog Milly in a journey around the world and through time. Help George find a way around a half-page maze then flip the pages over to find where to go next by working out which page the maze connects to. The mazes lead you through a series of countries featuring cities, landmarks and habitats. As you travel, find fascinating facts about each location and look out for fabulous things to spot! Each maze is beautifully illustrated and there is an extra challenge on each one, to pass certain objects. A fascinating book that will offer hours of entertainment and still be useful as a reference book once the puzzles are complete.

Meet The Artist: Alberto Giacometti illustrated by Nick White

This book is packed with activities based on the work of an artist who may previously have been unfamiliar to children - it's good to see a less familiar artist featured. Children can create colourful landscapes, photocollages and draw portraits of friends and family, all based on Giacometti's art. This is one in the Meet the Artist series of activity books from Tate Publishing which introduces children to internationally renowned artists in a fun and engaging way. Every book includes a brief introduction to the artist s life followed by a series of drawing-based activities that explore prominent themes and ideas in the artist's work, supported by reproductions of their work. I love the way the book really encourages children to think about what they are depicting and to adopt ideas from great artists.

Lift-the-flap and Colour Ocean by Alice Bowsher

These are ideal colouring books for young children, with broad lines to keep the colouring in the right place. This series, published by Frances Lincoln, comes from the Natural History Museum. The flaps to lift are a novel touch for colouring books, and children will enjoy these, with all the extra colouring opportunities. The animals are shown in their natural habitats, from shallow waters to the sea bed, and brief rhyming text describes what is to be seen. It's a good way to encourage children to do some extra research after enjoying the colouring. There's plenty of scope for creative and imaginative colouring.

Lift-the-flap and Colour Jungle by Alice Bowsher

Children can create their own colourful habitats with this new series from the Natural History Museum. There are five scenes to colour plus flaps that lift to reveal animals in their natural habitat - and offer even more colouring. The scenes vary from the depths of the jungle to the tree canopy and the accompanying rhyming text teaches about the environment. It's clever too, because other creatures appear as the colouring is done - for example, there's a ladybird hidden with the sloths - a nice added touch and something for children to spot.

My Trains Activity and Sticker Book from Bloomsbury

Train journeys are very exciting for children, and now they can have even more fun with this colourful sticker book. From packing to go on a journey, to travelling to the station and all the experiences of a train journey including eating lunch, through to the arrival at the destination, children can experience all the fun. There are all sorts of activities to enjoy, and these will encourage thinking, problem solving and reasoning skills. There's a maze to navigate, things to spot, choices to be made... and over 350 stickers to decorate the various scenes. The perfect companion for a train journey.

Super Search Adventure on the Trail of the Whale by Camilla De la Bedoyere

I really like the way this book draws the reader in by encouraging young readers to be a part of the activities and story. Otto the octopus can't find his best friend Hula the humpback whale. The seahorse says she must have left clues so it's off on an undersea journey. Every page is packed with intriguing information, memorable animal characters, rhyming riddles and fun activities. It's really child-friendly in its approach, making it both fun and memorable.Richard Watson's beautiful, bright illustrations will keep children enthralled with inventive details to spot everywhere - there is so much to see and enjoy.

Super Search Adventure Where is the Bear? by Camilla De la Bedoyere

Suki the rabbit needs help from young readers of 5+. She's on a mission to deliver a present to a bear named Ping - but who is he, and where does he live? The book takes children on an engrossing interactive journey, during which they will learn lots about a wide variety of habitats. An additional special feature of these books is provided by the foldout cover flaps. On the front flap, children can tick off all the creatures they have spotted through the story - a great way to learn about the animals, and to encourage observation. On the back flap, children can chart their journey, helping them to learn where various places are in the world. An unusual and really effective series of books.


Drawing Cartoons Letter by Letter: Create Fun Characters from A to Z by Christopher Hart

Encourage children to start learning to draw with this simple to follow book which takes a fresh look at numbers and letters. Step by step, Hart's clever tutorials show how to turn an A into a clunky robot, a B into a buzzing bee, a C into a chomping dinosaur and so on. These inventive cartoon characters are really to draw with easy-to-follow completely visual instructions - so no need for children to be able to read to create their own super cartoons. The book provides an unusual way to engage children with letters and numbers and is a good way to learn alphabetical order and the shapes of numbers and letters. Every letter of the alphabet appears in both upper and lower case, as do numbers 0 to 9. The cartoons are simple to copy and produce excellent results, giving children confidence to further develop their own drawing skills. Published by Sixth & Spring Books, April 2017, ISBN 978-194202153.

LEGO® NEXO KNIGHTS Ultimate Factivity Collection from DK

DK's Factivity series is an excellent combination of fascinating facts coupled with engaging activities that really capture children's attention. This book features the young knights Clay, Lance, Axl, AAron and Macy, as they embark on epic quests to defeat their monstrous foes in the exciting, magical land of Knighton. Learn all about the characters and their powers through games, sticker activities and puzzles, in chapters headed Meet the Knights; Meet the Monsters; Power Up! and Save the Kingdom. The stickers allow children to peice together Jethro's monstrous new headquarters. NEXO KNIGHTS fans are going to love this and will feel so well informed by the end of the book. It's a great way to inspire the imagination and creativity, as all the activities can be done right on the pages of the book - and then children have their own personalised book to treasure. Of course, this is DK, so you are guaranteed a really well presented book with excellent graphics and really high quality photographic stickers.

Ultimate Factivity Collection Pirates from DK

Pirates have an enduring fascination for children and this book is guaranteed to feed that enthusiasm to great effect. With a whole mass of facts and varied activities, children will get to know the salty swashbucklers who once terrorised the oceans. Hours and hours of creative and imaginative fun for rainy days or holidays, this is a super book, full of variety. Readers will draw their own desert island, design fearsome flags, and discover gruesome pirate illnesses - creative activities and facts combine to perfection. Categories in the books include Read and Create; Draw and Learn; Fact Challenge; Test Your Knowledge and Stickers - a good mix of activities ensuring there is something of interest to everyone. There are over 500 lovely stickers, both photographic and drawings; a great variety to produce freally good results, bringing the pages alive and personalising them. Whether your child is already an enthusiast for the topic, or you are trying to interest them in a new subject, these books are brilliant.

Scratch and Draw Under the Sea by Susie Linn

This book really does deliver on the promised results - I found it really addictive as I scratched off the coating to reveal the wonderful colours underneath, which really are appropriate for the subject of under the sea. It's really simple to do with amazing results. But there is much more to the book - the fun is far from over when the pictures are revealed; this underwater animal-themed title includes step-by-step instructions to learn how to draw all kinds of amazing sea creatures including dolphins, whales, jellyfish, fish, an octopus and more. There is also an exciting marine-themed adventure story to complete, and a cool writing and drawing tool especially for using on the scratch and sketch pages. Plus there are instructions for making more scratch and draw cards so the art fun can go on and on. So much to encourage creativity and imagination packed into one neat spiral-bound book. It's unusual and very effective.

Search and Find Space by Joshua George

Perfect for children of age 5+ (or for younger ones to share with adults), they will be realy challenged to search and find over 1,000 out-of-this-world space things in this full colour activity book. There are all sorts of different scenes, each with a large colour picture plus illustrations around the edges to show what needs to be found. It's not as easy as it seems, as the objects are all differently sized, adding an extra level of challenge. From alien starships and rockets, to astronauts and creatures that live in galaxies far, far away, children must search the busy space scenes to find every hidden item. This is the sort of book that really encourages extending the ideas - as well as search and find, there are lots of opportunities to make up stories, extending the brief accounts which accompany each scene, and to extend knowledge, based on the detailed pictures and masses of small images.

Fuzzy Farm (Fuzzy Play Books) by Erin Ranson

This is a lovely update on the traditional Fuzzy Felt toy, with lots of different fuzzy felt scenes all themed around the farm. Children can create scenes and change them to their heart's content with the 28 fuzzy felt pieces included. From milking in the morning, through a rainy lunchtime and finishing up with a peaceful night's sleep, the story takes us through a busy day, meeting animals and finding about the work on the farm. For each picture, there are prompts that show children which pieces will complete each picture - and I am sure they will want to create their own scenes too! The pieces stick securely to the scenes, and can be stored back in the clear packet to keep them safe between playing.

Rainforest Masks: Ten 3D Rainforest Masks to Press Out and Make bt Gavin Rutherford

Pop out and play with these amazing rainforest creature masks which include a toucan, a jaguar, an iguana, a tamarin, a frog, a butterfly, a tapir, an otter and a macaw are waiting to be brought to life inside these pages – all they need is imaginative and creative children. The masks are really striking, very well illustrated and made from stiff card. There is also information about each creature. A brilliant book for classroom topics use, and as rainforests are such a popular school project, the book will be really well received. It's an excellent way to encourage children to act out scenarios using the masks, as well as producing a lovely display.

Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book from The Topps Company

The enduring popularity of the Star Wars brand is testament to the impact it has made on people since it exploded into theaters on May 25, 1977. That same year, Lucasfilm teamed with the Topps Company, Inc. to create the very first tie-in collectibles a series of trading cards and stickers that have since become iconic. Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book is the first sticker book to collect a selection of these iconic stickers many of which are reproduced in their original size making this the perfect nostalgic memento for fans of all ages to enjoy.

The Amazing Emoji Puzzle Book: Packed with Totally Awesome Emoji Puzzles and 200 Emoji Stickers from Carlton

Emojis are very popular so it's a great idea to base a whole puzzle book on them, to encourage children to enjoy the 80+ creative and educational puzzles. Puzzle fanatics and emoji lovers alike will enjoy tackling these brainteasers and using the emoji stickers to solve the problems (the stickers are also great to decorate their things with, too). The book contains a wide range of puzzles, including visual puzzles, missing-emoji games, logic problems, and more brain-busters.It's colourful and enticing, and these puzzles really help children develop problem-solving, concentration and thinking skills - and have fun at the same time.

Cool and Calm Colouring Kids Fairy Sticker book (Cool & Calm Colouring) by Eugénie Varone

A 24-page colouring book with 21 magical fairy scenes to complete, plus 190 colour-your-own stickers to add to the pages. The colour-your-own stickers are a great idea, giving children the opportunity to put their own interpretation onto stickers rather than always having ready-made ideas. The scenes include dreamy fairy mermaids, magical woodland creatures, pretty fairy patterns, and much more; girls will love them. Many of the pictures are richly detailed so adults may have a go too!

Cool and Calm Colouring Kids Dress Up (Cool & Calm Colouring) by Christine Alcouffe

Colouring is hugely popular and the relaxing benefits have become really well known - children and adults alike benefit and these pictures are perfect for young fashion lovers. There are 21 super-trendy scenes to colour and decorate with stickers, including chic Paris, the bright lights of New York, the classic style of London, a photoshoot on the beach, as well as fashions from the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s - all very nostalgic! The colour your own stickers are perfect to allow children to design their own outfits and embellish them just as they want.

i-SPY Nature: What can you spot? (Collins Michelin i-SPY Guides)

i-SPY books have an enduring popularity - I loved them, my children enjoyed them and now I am introducing my grandchildren to them. It's a clever formula that really engages children with the world around them, encouraging them to be observant and widening their knowledge. They are wonderful to keep children happily and purposefully occupied on journeys, on holiday, on day trips from home and even in the park or garden.  In i-SPY Nature, spotters can search for over 140 sights. Each object is accompanied by a good colour photo for identification, plus a summary of useful information. Each object is allocated a score, ranging from 5 for easy to spot items such as common nettle, to Top Spots which earn 30 points eg an otter. Once 1000 points are gained in the book, children can  for a certificate and badge. send This fun activity book encourages children to explore a range of outdoor environments, from down by the sea to town and country animals, in search of i-SPY points. A fun, interactive way to encourage curious children to learn about the world around them. The range of difficulty of finding the objects is nicely varied, and the 1000 points for a badge can be gained without finding everything - a good way to ensure children don't get despondent about near-impossible finds.

i SPY2

i-SPY at the Zoo: What can you spot? (Collins Michelin i-SPY Guides)

The books are divided into colour-coded sections, which is useful for wandering around and spotting; they also include detailed indexes to help spotters. As well as zoo animals, the broad scope of this title includes insects and countryside animals - a good way to keep interest going when not at the zoo. Children love these fun and fascinating i-SPY activity books – with over 60 other i-SPY guides in the series, there is something for every interest. The selection I was sent, which you can view here, is ideal for the summer. You may also like the geographical ones which cover London, The Isle of Wight, the Cotswolds and many other places. A new introduction is the Holiday Sticker Book - blank outlines are part if colourful scenes, ready for the sticker when spotted. Children still score points and this book is ideal as an introduction for younger i-SPYers. I think i-SPY books are brilliant; they encourage observation, help learning and are great for cooperative working. They are excellent value too so I'd encourage you to stock up; great party bag gifts too.