For all those kids who run off with the empty toilet paper rolls, the new book Make It, by Jane Bull is for you. Make It is filled with crafts to make with recyclables. It is divided into sections for Paper Crafts, Metal Crafts, Plastic Crafts, and Fabric Crafts. The book is filled with brightly colored photographs of the projects. The photographs inspire you to come up with ideas of your own. The tools and supplies needed to make the crafts are simple and most likely already on hand. All you really need are glue, scissors, tape, and whatever is in the recycle bin. My daughter, C, is currently stockpiling plastic bottles in her room to make into a birdfeeder.
Another book that is great for kids who like to build things is Amazing Leonardo Da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself, by Maxine Anderson. Geared toward an older age group, the projects in this book require adult supervision. Each project is prefaced by a section that describes the historical and scientific basis for the project, and the relationship to Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches and techniques.
My son, H, has an entire plastic bin filled with paper airplanes he has folded. He likes to get them out and throw them, so that they cover his room. They are all different sizes. For inspiration he gets out his Super Simple Paper Airplanes, by Nick Robinson. The illustrations for folding in this book are very detailed, but still some require adult help. The planes range in complexity, so there are planes that you can fold right away and others that require more time.
And in the crafty department, I recently added Making Stuff for Kids, by Victoria Woodcock to our bookshelves. It has crafts for kids as young as three. It also has instructions for teaching kids basic sewing, knitting, cross stitch, appliqué, felting, paper mache, and pompom making. Each chapter is grouped by age. There is also an “Adult” section at the end of the book with such craft projects as a child’s tea dress, apron, and birdhouse. The magnetic button spider caught the eye of the kids right away.
I was reminded the other day of a collection of Granta issues that we have on a shelf. It made me start thinking about collections. What things we save and what things we don’t. Generally, I am not a saver. When my parents were moving to their new house, I sorted through all my old high school stuff and threw most of it out-old boyfriend love letters and all. I have archived all of the emails my husband and I sent each other before we were married, and I have a big book that chronicles my tennis playing.
As a librarian, I am attracted to buying and keeping books, but I try not to do that too much. The library is a wonderful place for getting and sharing books. There are a few exceptions, the Grantas being one of those. Granta is like a little treasure of reading. You can pick it up and find something new to read every time. The stories and essays transport you to other places.
Another collection I have been unwilling to part with is my old Martha Stewart Baby and Kid magazines. They are no longer publishing these, and I have hung on to the old ones for the wealth of fun projects, recipes, and ideas that are contained within them. It is true that some of her projects are insanely complex, but I can usually think of a way to make them simpler for our purposes. We once made my son a lovely, bald eagle Halloween costume inspired by one of her designs. We melted crayon bits into heart shapes to give as favors. And cookie cutter sandwich shapes are still a crowd pleaser with the kids.
I seem to be amassing a pretty good collection of crafty books as well. Those are a weakness, I seem unable to resist.
Books and crafting, crafting and books.
Go into the kitchen advises Sophie Benini Pietromarchi’s book, The Book Book. The Book Book offers a collage of ideas for creating books and inspiring art projects. Pietromarchi’s book explores different types of paper, art and drawing techniques, and guidance on starting a story. The Book Book seems written for older children and adults, but the projects could easily be adapted for younger children. The “TV Book”, a scroll book in a box, made to look like a TV, is of interest to my kids. We did not do a whole book project, but instead took her idea for using dried beans and peas to make a picture. I photocopied and enlarged her flamingo outline. The kids glued different types of dried beans onto the paper outline. We used regular, white school glue. These turned out beautifully. The texture of the beans and glue is really pretty, and it was simple enough for both C. and H. to do together. The Book Book is great for flipping through to get ideas for your next project.