Book reviews - activity books (page 9)

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. Others directly support the curriculum. 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. 

The Dinosaur Creativity Book from Carlton Kids This is one in an exceptional series from Carlton Kids. The series does an excellent job of combining huge amounts of information along with wide-ranging activities that make the informationn memorable. The activities develop a wide range of skills including cncentration, morot skills and reasoning. Dinosaurs are a perennially popular subject and this book encourages children to take a fresh look at the topic with stickers, puzzles, drawing, cut-outs and mames. There's lots here to suport classroom topic learning and to produce excellent displays, especially the big reusable fold-out pages for stickers. Dinosaur themed art paper and dino outlines are particular features. Excellent value with hoirs of enjoyment.

Ancient Egypt Adventure Activity Book​ illustrated by Jen Alliston

Button Books may not be one of our better known publishers, but they certainly deserve to be, especially for their fantastic range of crafting and activity books. This book, themed around Ancient Egypt, is brilliant for both school and home use, and it matches the curriculum perfectly. There are creative ideas, mazes, wordsearches, puzzles, jokes, colouring... and much more including plenty of stickers. The book is really well presented, to a much higher standard than most activity books, and the activity ideas are clearly explained with plenty of illustrations. Observational, conversational and fine motor skills will all be supported by the book - and best of all, it's lots of fun! Ancient Egypt is always a favourite with children, and the fabulous range of ideas in this book will stimulate creativity and enhance knowledge of this important culture. Published by Button Books, June 2019, ISBN 9781787080362.

My Big Book of Science by Susan Akass

This bumper book includes over 60 activities to boost children's STEM science skills. The focus on STEM subjects is aimed to encourage children to develop a love for science, technology, engineering and maths and this book does that excellently, with a varied selection of activities which all have specific learning aims. Fully illustrated throughout, with bright photos and practical diagrams, each activity os clearly explained, along with the science behind it. Here are a few of the ideas - rainbow in a glass, skewer a balloon, string model of the gut and stop-motion bean pot. It's fantastic value too, with so many activities plus plenty of information to support learning - it's a book to dip into throughout KS2 and there are lots of ideas that can be easily implemented in the classroom as well as at home.

My STEM Day: Mathematics by Anne Rooney

Maths lies at the heart of many of our day-to-day activities, and understanding the maths behind them is a great way to help children's mathematical development. In this colourful book children are taken through the day learning how maths is a part of a whole range of very varied activities. The pages are packed with unique, fun and original illustrations that make the concepts easy to understand and relevant to daily life; helping children see the importance of maths is a good way to encourage them to learn. There are lots of projects and ideas to try out which will reinforce mathematical learning and show children that maths is far from boring. There's plenty of variety in the approach, with something to appeal to every type of learner.

My STEM Day: Science by Anne Rooney

The format of showing the impact of science on the whole day is an excellent way to show how science impacts on every aspect of life, and shows children its importance. The book answers many common questions with clear explanations and practical hands-on activities that make science easy and fun. The layout is clrear and consistent, making it easy for children to find their way around the book, and the contents page gives a good clear overview. Also available are books on technology and engineering, making this an excellent series to reinforce classroom learning while having fun at home; there's a huge amount of learning here, all really engagingly presented in a way that encourages children to learn from everyday things.

Usborne Wipe-Clean Travel Puzzles

Regular readers of my reviews will know that I am a big fan of wipe-clean books, which allow young children to develop skills without worrying about making mistakes. Couple this with Usborne's excellence in producing activity books that are both fun and educational, and you have a great book to keep children happily occupied travelling and on holiday. Many key skills are developed in the book, including counting, observation and pen control skills, as children join the dots to build sandcastles, spot the difference between skiers, help monsters find their tents and lots more. The pen is included and the sturdy pages wipe clean easily, allowing plenty of attempts. A super variety of activities with all the fun of a holiday.

Never Get Bored Outdoors from Usborne

This is an ideal book to give children before the start of the long summer holidays; you'll be amazed at the huge amount packed into the pages! Open a bug hotel, read the night sky and go bird spotting, then learn to draw animals, write a nature poem, and do an outdoor quiz... and that's just a tiny selection to show the variety. The book includes specially selected links to websites for even more fun outdoor activities. The engaging presentation makes the book a joy to read, and children will be encouraged to dip into it at home, preparatory to going out to enjoy the adventures. Each time I look at the book, I find something new... a hiking game, creative writing, dancing in the rain... the inspiration is endless. This innovative book really does encourage children to look closely at nature, and to learn to appreciate how much it has to offer; it's a book with on-going value, as it encourages children to think about what the natural world holds, and how best to enjoy it with a lasting impact. A wonderful book.

The Usborne Holiday Journal

Usborne have really made a niche for themselves in fill-in activity books that turn into lasting records - they are my go-to publisher for this type of book. Whether somewhere exotic on holiday, or enjoying time at home, Wherever you are in the world, this journal will inspire children and encourage their imagination. There are themed pages with pictures, words and curious facts, and lots of blank space for making notes, sticking in mementoes, keeping a diary, planning things to do or just doodling. It's all beautifully illustrated, making it a book to treasure. There are links to websites for more inspiration. It's nicely produced, on strong paper and with an elastic bookmark to keep the place in the book

The Mermaid Craft Book by Laura Minter and Tia Williams

Mermaids are definitely an 'in' thing at the moment, enjoying plenty of popularity especially with girls. The excellent crafting duo who have brought us so much inspiration have made good use of this popularity by bringing us a book which covers all sorts of inspirational craft ideas. Ideas include a trinket box, a fishtail pencil case, a shell necklace and much more (15 in all) - they would be great ideas for a mermaid-themed party. The ideas are well explained, use easily obtained resources and come with enticing photos to encourage everyone to have a go, and you don't need too much experience to produce excellent results. Another excellent book, full of practical advice, and simple to follow ideas. Published by GMC Books, June 2019, ISBN 9781784945107.

Brain Busters (Mensa Kids)

I love this! It's colourful and appealing and there are puzzles here to challenge everyone, from 7+. The landscape format of the book is ideal to showcase the puzzles, and it's packed with thought-provoking puzzles that children - and adults - will love to solve (and if you are really stuck, all the answers are included). There 128 pages and over 240 perplexing puzzles. The great thing is that the puzzles are split into three levels of difficulty, so children's learning skills can progress. Books like this are perfect to stimulate logical thinking, reasoning and problem solving and there's so much satisfaction to be gained from getting the answers right. There are logic, number and word puzzles, and they are created by Mensa, the high IQ society. Hours of fun for the family to share and ideal for when you're out and about.

Solve It with Sherlock Holmes by Gareth Moore

Join Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson as they uncover the answers to a whole set of puzzles. All themed around the famous duo, plus housekeeper Mrs Hudson, the book is packed with puzzles, codes, riddles and other mind-boggling quizzes. A great range of puzzles which will exercise all sorts of solving skills. Children love mysteries, and the link with the world of Sherlock Holmes will really appeal - and might well encourage children to seek out the books. The engaging puzzles are set off by stunning graphics and illustrations , and the storyline around each puzzle adds an extra level of interest. It's a really well thought-out book with lots of extras that set it above many puzzle books. This hardback book would make a great gift for inquisitive children.

Claude Ever-So-Summery Sticker Book (Claude TV Tie-ins)

Claude and his friend Sir Bobblysocks are always off on extraordinary adventures and now children can have their own part to play with this colourful activity book. Join in the seaside fun with Claude, Sir Bobblysock and all their friends. Packed full of fun games, amazing activities and four pages of wonderfully summery stickers, this activity book will keep Claude fans busy for hours - and garner him plenty of new fans too. Based on the Disney Junior TV show, and children will love the added dimension for this popular favourite. Books like this are great fun to do and children love them, and parents love them too because they include a huge amount of learning value, including concentration, co-ordination and thinking skills.

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