Like many parents, I am always looking for fresh ideas for my boredom-busting toolkit – interesting and meaningful activities, preferably requiring minimal supervision. I’ve really needed them during the current school holidays, and they’ll be helpful as we spend more time indoors during the cooler months. Anything to stave off moans about Being Bored, or battles about too much screentime! These terrific activity books fit the bill – they offer lots of open-ended ideas that encourage kids to play, think, reflect and create.
Usborne Design Activity Book by Alice James, Tom Mumbray and Petra Baan
Usborne has been publishing excellent children’s activity books for years – you may remember books about spycraft / origami / cooking from your own childhood. This Design Activity Book is another great example, and should offer plenty of fun and inspiration to kids who love art and visual design. Project ideas range from the more traditional, such as hand lettering, and designing logos and book covers, to more complex ones such as developing a board game, developing a website, and applying branding to a collection of items. Each idea is supported by lots of prompts and useful tips that draw upon the different steps of the design process. For ages 8+.
Chill Out: My Mindfulness Activity Book by Josephine Dellow
This activity book is not only fun and inspirational, but being based on mindfulness, can also help to support young people’s wellbeing in the longer term. Chill Out offers a good range of activities, puzzles, games and crafts, created with and for 5 – 8-year-olds; each activity encourages children to focus in on a task, settle the mind, and help to create a peaceful moment in their day. Chill Out is published by Ups!de Down Books, an independent publisher specialising in positive, age-appropriate and accessible titles around mental health and wellbeing. For ages 5-8.
Ninja Life Hacks Journal for Kids by Mary Nhin
This journal is a companion volume to the Ninja Life Hacks series, which are bite-sized, colourful books that aim to help children develop life skills. It covers topics such as managing emotions, developing resilience and learning respectful interactions. The Ninja Life Hacks Journal turns these messages into goal-setting exercises that nurture a growth mindset: how to look past failures and learn from mistakes, practise positive self-talk and ultimately, develop grit and resilience. Not only is it a useful workbook, it can become a great keepsake. For ages 3-11.
101 Things for Kids to do Screen-Free by Dawn Isaac
Are you constantly trying to limit your kids’ screen time? Screen time is a big issue in so many families – especially during holidays – so Dawn Isaac’s new book caught my eye right away. Dawn’s previous books on Outdoor activities and Rainy Day activities are both terrific resources, and this is no exception. The 101 Things described in this book range from the creative (no-sew sock creatures), to the silly (hands-free eating challenge) to the impressive (backyard mini golf). There are crafts, recipes, outdoor challenges, games, and projects; most require few or commonly-found materials; some can be done on your own, while others are great for groups. For ages 4-11.
The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play by Laura Brand
Laura Brand may not be well-known outside the UK – yet – but her great ideas around engaging with nature, creative crafting and the importance of play, deserve a wide audience. The Joy Journal offers fifty simple, engaging and open-ended play ideas that will appeal to a range of ages, including toddlers under supervision. Most of the projects are no-cost or low-cost, and use common household items, or scavenged natural materials such as flowers, leaves and twigs. Laura champions messy play, but offers helpful tips and “messiness ratings” for parents who may be more hesitant. The beautiful photograps and friendly chatty text means the book is a pleasure for the parent-reader as well! For ages 2+.
Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers by Andrea Beaty
Rosie Revere, Engineer is a firm favourite with both kids and adults, for its fun introduction to the engineering process, and its stereotype-busting story. Now you can further nurture the inventiveness of your budding engineer with a Rosie Revere project book. With full-colour illustrations, Rosie Revere encourages readers to design and prototype solutions to everyday problems using commonplace items, and to learn from, rather than be discouraged by, failures and flops. The 40+ featured projects include designing a better bicycle, build a simple catapult, construct a solar oven, and more. For ages 5+.