A Clutch of Activity Books

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inside, outside, upside down
push, pull, empty, full

Yasmeen Ismail
Laurence King Publishing
As a big fan of Yasmeen Ismail’s work I was thrilled to see these new Draw and Discover activity books. Herein children can, having grabbed their pens and pencils, join Rabbit and Duck and have lots of fun responding to the instructions on every page.
Those who work with young children know that concepts such as ‘tall and short’ …

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‘short/long’, ‘small/ big’ and ‘empty/full’ are learned gradually through experience: inside, outside, upside down will add to such experience. In addition opposites such as outside/ inside, top/ bottom, left/ right …

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are also playfully presented.
Push, pull, empty, full adds scientific concepts – push/ pull …

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and warm/ cool as well as ‘beginning/ middle/ end’ which invites readers to ‘draw the middle’ and colour the rainbow created by so doing.
Draw Colour Discover’ says the message on the back cover: I’d add, Enjoy.

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Woodland Hedgehugs Activity Book
Lucy Tapper and Steve Wilson
Maverick Arts Publishing
Spring’s not far away; already catkins are appearing on the hazel trees so it’s a great time to get out into the countryside or park with Horace and Hattie hedgehog (not forgetting Sid the Snail – he pops up on every page) and take up their invitation to engage in some sensory play. They suggest you wear wellies and wet weather gear and take along ‘A pot or box and a spoon, paper, chalk, glue, sticky-tape and ( most important I think), your imagination.’
Suggested outdoor activities include observations of colours in nature, looking for animal tracks, a scavenger hunt, some woodland challenges …

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an exploration of woodland textures, and taking rubbings of bark and leaves.
There’s a page of tree leaves to search for; and an invitation to listen out for natural sounds can be followed by drawing what was heard on the related page,
These are just some of the in-the-field suggestions but there are plenty of indoor ideas too. Why not try making a shaker from a Y-shaped stick, do some messy leaf printing, or creating some tasty ladybird treats starting with an apple.
I like the way the outdoors is brought to the indoors through activities such as these and the woodland map making. The pictorial map outlined in the book can be coloured, but I’d suggest children make their own, either in two or three dimensions, perhaps with the help of photos taken on a walk.

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8 Ways to Draw a Fish
Luisa Martelo
Tara Books
The author of this thoroughly engaging and instructive activity book has enlisted the help of artists from various regions of India. There are eight different art styles in all including Rajasthani Meena work from artist Sunita, Gond art from Madhya Pradesh from Bhajju Shyam, and Subhash Vyam, Madhubani style from Bihari artist, Rambharos Jha, Bhil art from Subhash Amaliyar and Patua style from West Bengali artist, Swarna Chitrakar.
As with all Tara publications, the whole thing is of top quality: the paper itself is beautifully thick (card almost) and each spread is a combination of grey outlines – thick or thin – and colourful design/pattern.

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The suggestion is that users trace the fish outlines and then be creative in how they add their own details and colours. The guidance is subtle rather than overly instructive and accompanying it are snippets of basic scientific information about the fish and their environments.
And of course, the book proves lots of fun, both for its intended child audience and for the many adults who enjoy such books as a means of relaxation. Make sure you read the author’s ‘What is Art?’ on the inside front cover flap too.
Buy to give and buy to keep. I intend to give my copy but first I’ll do some sneaky tracing so I don’t miss out on the creative opportunities.

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