The last thing anyone wants during summer is to be stuck indoors with bored kids -- but if you find yourself in that predicament, check out three new books filled with fun, creative, and challenging games and activities.
Whether you're looking for mental challenges for an individual child or for interesting exercises to reinforce any number of classroom lessons, The Best of Brain Teasers (Teacher Created Materials, Inc.), edited by Dona Herweck Rice and illustrated by Howard Chaney, has what you want! A collection of more than 250 riddles, logic problems, and other brain teasers, this book covers a wide range of topics and ability levels.
The table of contents of The Best of Brain Teasers presents activities clearly organized into various topics including "Logic," "Thinking Creatively," and "School Days Trivia," which is further broken down into the subject areas of "Social Studies," "Math," "Language Arts," and "Science." There are logic problems arranged in the form of graphic organizers, math problems that use statistics about chocolate chip cookies, and memory games. For classroom use, ice-breaking activities help classmates get to know one another.
Each exercise takes up one page, with large, easy-to-read type and simple black-and-white illustrations. Each page can be written on or reproduced for use by more than one student. The answer key at the back of the book is easy to use. Although there are no specific instructions for doing the activities in a classroom setting, the introduction to the book suggests general ways in which they might be used. For example, the trivia questions serve as a basis for teaching research techniques or for a fact-finding scavenger hunt.
Drama School (Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, Inc.), written and illustrated by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom, offers a wide-ranging introduction to theater and film. Covering every conceivable topic from organizing a crew to acting, mime, puppetry, and radio plays, Drama School touches on everything involved in putting on a performance.
Although Manning and Granstrom don't include enough details for children to be able to produce elaborate shows without any other help or information, Drama School can be a great starting place for smaller scale "productions." The projects in the book include acting exercises, costume projects, and learning about drama -- and they seem more like games than work. One assignment -- making movies -- even starts with the instruction "Watch an episode from your favorite TV show"!
Covering activities from writing plays to making scenery, the projects in this book can enhance the study of many different subject areas, including creative writing and art. The emphasis is on the collaborative nature of drama, so this book can fit nicely into a classroom setting. Colorfully illustrated and clearly written, Drama School can help kids through the summer doldrums.
From breakfast foods to sandwiches, from soups to desserts, The Kids Can Press Jumbo Cookbook (Kids Can Press Ltd.), written by Judi Gillies and Jennifer Glossup and illustrated by Louise Phillips, offers dozens of recipes ranging from the very simple to the challenging. The recipes are detailed, listing difficulty level and utensil requirements in addition to the usual ingredients and directions, and the large print makes them easy to follow. The introductory material introduces safety tips, measurements, a glossary of cooking terms, and a list of common kitchen utensils.
Although this cookbook is meant for children, the recipes are not at all childish. They include such relatively sophisticated fare as vegetable curry, red lentil soup, and sushi!
Teaches might use The Kids Can Press Jumbo Cookbook to enhance lessons in nutrition or measurement. The more exotic recipes could punctuate studies about other cultures. You and your students might just want to have fun making lime meringue pie to brighten up a dreary summer day!
The books highlighted this week are available in most bookstores. If you are unable to locate a book, ask your bookseller to order it for you or contact the publisher directly.
Lauren P. Gattilia
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