With summer break underway, I’ve already had a few days of dealing with restless children desperately looking for something to do. While we’re lucky enough to be in a neighbourhood with plenty of kids to play with, there are still hours in the day where both my boys are roaming the house restlessly, getting in my way as they look for something to occupy them. Of course, the fact I limit their screen time during the summer months doesn’t make things any easier!
So this year, I found a new way to help keep my boys entertained: activity books! Recently The Quarto Group sent me three of its newest titles to review and as soon as I saw them, I knew that my boys would be spending plenty of summer hours trying out the crafts and activities in every one.
Stick Sketch School: An Animal Artventure
Stick figures are hotter than ever. The biggest web comics are produced in stick figure format, and they are hugely popular in social media. But the best part about stick figures is that anyone can draw them! Billy Attinger showed how to draw stylized stick figures in his popular Stick Sketch School, and now he’s back showing the world his stick figure animals. Take an “artventure” around the world: learn to draw stick animals in the jungle, the Arctic, the rainforest, the Outback, underwater, and more! You’ll even learn how to draw extinct animals and fantasy animals in stick form.
Each spread features a grid to show the reader how to draw the lines, how to add movement, expression, and more. Ideal for the visual learner and accompanied by tips and tricks from stick artist Billy Attinger, the book shows how to make your stick animals personal, recognizable, and unique!
Star Wars: Build a Scene
Star Wars: Build a Scene includes everything you need to make iconic papercraft scenes from the Star Wars universe. The kit provides ten sheets of punch-out pieces and step-by-step instructions for creating three detailed 5″ x 8″ x 4″ paper dioramas, including one with LED lights. Re-create the drama of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader’s duel on Mustafar from Revenge of the Sith; the nail-biting trench battle on the Death Star from A New Hope; and the Kylo Ren and Rey lightsaber fight in the snowy forest of the Starkiller Base from The Force Awakens. The accompanying book includes illustrated assembly instructions for the models, along with three essays on each classic scene and how they were designed and filmed.
Each model takes roughly 2–4 hours to build.
Rubber Band Engineer
Shooting far, flying high, and delivering way more exciting results than expected are the goals of the gadgets in this book. Discover unexpected ways to turn common materials into crafty contraptions that range from surprisingly simple to curiously complex. In vivid color photos, you’ll be guided to create slingshot rockets, unique catapults, and even hydraulic-powered machines. Whether you build one or all 19 of these designs, you’ll feel like an ingenious engineer when you’re through.
Best of all, you don’t need to be an experienced tinkerer to make any of the projects within. All you need are household tools and materials, such as paper clips, pencils, paint stirrers, and ice pop sticks. Oh, and rubber bands. Lots of rubber bands. So grab your glue gun, pull out your pliers, track down your tape, and get started on the challenging, fun, and rewarding journey toward becoming a rubber band engineer.
While I actually thought both boys would immediately jump at the Star Wars: Build a Scene book, the opposite was the case. Benjamin has been working hard at improving his drawing lately, so he couldn’t wait to try creating some animals using Stick Sketch School. And Zackary loved the idea of making his own catapult and rocket with the instructions in Rubber Band Engineer. A few days later, though, when Benjamin started spending his days at camp, Zackary was thrilled to be able to start creating a Star Wars scene in his lonely daytime hours!
These titles and other great activity books from The Quarto Group are available now at book stores across North America, so check them out and see which one would be the best summer boredom buster for your kids this year. Whether you have a budding artist or a future architect at home, you’re sure to find activities that will help keep your kids entertained as they learn all summer long!