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Welcome to Summer BOOK-TIVITY #4. Education World and share with you fun activities for kids and families -- activities connected to some of the best recent children's books around. Check out Summer BOOK-TIVITIES! for summer projects that will entertain and educate.

Don't miss the other Summer BOOK-TIVITIES:

  • BOOK-TIVITY #1: Photo fun, cooking, sharks, baseball, moving
  • BOOK-TIVITY #2: Family trees, hide-and-seek, museums, information exploration
  • BOOK-TIVITY #3: Lightning, teeth, masks, Mount Rushmore
  • BOOK-TIVITY #4: Crocodiles, "look what came from ...," imagination, do's and don'ts
  • BOOK-TIVITY #5: U.S. states, fossils, snakes, animal carnival
  • BOOK-TIVITY #6: Mount Everest, Mother Goose, the ocean, math

Summer Booktivities Header Graphic



Crocs & Gators Book Cover Scaly, sharp-toothed, and stealthy, alligators and crocodiles have always been among the most feared predators. Around since the days of the dinosaurs a hundred million years ago, these huge reptiles are probably the source of tall tales about ferocious dragons and man-eating serpents.

Now renowned science writer Seymour Simon gets up close and personal with these reptile wonders in Crocodiles and Alligators (HarperCollins). The clear text, engaging writing style, and 20 full-color photographs will help kids discover how crocodiles and alligators eat their food without chewing, how they use sun to regulate their body temperatures, how to tell the difference between crocodiles and alligators, and, perhaps most importantly, how these incredible reptiles have been brought back from the brink of extinction.

More than 90 of Simon's books for young readers have been named Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children by the National Science Teachers Association/Children's Book Council. Crocodiles and Alligators will surely be on next year's list!

Booktivity Header GraphicBOOK-TIVITY: Make a Clay-codile

Modeling Book Cover Next to coloring in coloring books, creating with modeling clay has got to be the second favorite national pastime among kids. Give kids a lump of modeling clay and watch as they use their imagination to create wild, silly, and beautiful things!

Now, with Fun With Modeling Clay (Kids Can Press), kids have a veritable how-to book for creating with clay. Step-by-step illustrated instructions show kids the basic techniques and eight basic shapes -- the ball, the egg, the drop, the snake, the sausage, the cylinder, the box, and the ribbon -- from which all manner of things can be created. Using those basic shapes, author Barbara Reid shows kids how to create about two dozen creatures, including a crocodile:

  1. Roll a thick snake with a pointed tail from green modeling clay.
  2. With a kitchen knife or a wire, carefully cut the head open to about one third of the way along the body to create the crocodile's mouth.
  3. Stick two small balls of light green on the end of the snout, and dot in nostrils with a pencil.
  4. Add two bigger balls of yellow clay on the head for eyes.
  5. Starting at the back of the mouth, add some curved cones of white clay for teeth.
  6. Add four small green sausages to create legs. Add tiny claws of light green clay to each leg.
  7. Bend the croc's body and tail into whatever position you want.
  8. Use a pencil tip to carve some squiggly lines down the reptile's back for texture.
Fun With Modeling Clay instructs kids in making people, faces, clothes, furniture, buildings, and vehicles of all kinds. Reid also provides illustrated directions for creating clay picture scenes and dioramas and clay picture frames. All 40 pages are packed full of ideas for creating. Just add clay and imagination for hours of fun!

Booktivity Header GraphicBOOK-TIVITY: Play a game of "Crocodile"

Games Book Cover

The beach is a perfect spot for Crocodile. We're talking about the game Crocodile, not the creature! Crocodile is one of more than 60 games included in The Kids Summer Games Book (Kids Can Press). In the game of Crocodile, kids pretend that a hungry crocodile is lurking in the sand, ready to bite if the beach ball touches the sand. Lots of people can play. The rules are simple:

  1. Throw a beach ball in the air. Try to keep the beach ball moving for as long as possible without hitting the sand.
  2. A player cannot hit the ball twice in a row.
  3. A scorekeeper keeps score. The whole group earns one point for each successful hit.
  4. If the ball hits the beach, the player who last touched the ball is out (eaten by the croc).
  5. Try to set a beach record for the number of points earned before the ball hits the sand.
Looking for other games? The Kids Summer Games Book is a great source. Outdoor games and indoor games, games to make, and games for one or two are included. Directions for such classic games as marbles and Capture the Flag are here as well as directions for a wide variety of card games familiar and new. Activities for a "warm weather Olympics" are included. Kids can play a different game each day this summer and still not have played all the games in the book by the time school begins!

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China Book Cover What is your state famous for? What products are made there? Who are the well-known people who were born or lived there? What a great topic for summer exploration!

But before you "write the book" about your state, you might want to explore one or more of the new books in the Look What Came from... series.

Written by Miles Harvey, each book in this elementary-level multicultural series explores, in very simple fashion, the foods, words, inventions, tools, customs, toys, games/sports, animals, religions, holidays, fashions, and arts that a specific country has contributed to the world. Harvey's books explore "what came from" Mexico, Italy, Egypt, China, and other countries.

Did you know that the Chinese invented the abacus, paper, printing, and fireworks? You probably associate China with such foods as rice, tea, and soybeans, but did you know Chinese people were the first to eat peaches, ice cream, and pasta? The wheelbarrow, the compass, and the saddle all have their origins in China. Kites, dominoes, and -- believe it or not -- hacky sack originated in China too! Readers will learn these facts and many more in Look What Came from China (Franklin Watts/Grolier).

Dozens of colorful photos accompany Harvey's informative and often surprising text. In addition, readers will find a recipe for fried rice, a glossary of simple Chinese expressions, and a bibliography that includes books and Web sites kids might explore for additional information. The other books in the series follow this same format. Many of them are available in paperback as well as in hardcover.

Look What Came from China -- the next best thing to traveling there!

Booktivity Header GraphicBOOK-TIVITY: Look What Came from My State!
After kids read a book or two from the Look What Came from... series, challenge them to do a little research about their own state (or country or city or town) and create a Look What Came from [My State] book! What foods and products originate or are produced in your state? What famous people come from your state? For which sports is your state known? Are there any common language expressions for which your state is noted? Children can illustrate their books with drawings and photos. (You might even write to your state tourism department and request their tourism package. That kit will include some wonderful photos!) Though the kids' books might not have the detail of Miles Harvey's books, they'll surely be keepers!

READ MORE: More books from the "Look What Came from..." series

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Squiggle Book Cover

Squiggle (Dragonfly Books/Crown Publishers) is written with little ones in mind, but the book is one that can be used to stir the imagination of kids of all ages.

In this story from author Carole Lexa Schaefer, a class of young children takes off on a walk. Hand-in-hand, the kids form a nice straight line. But the little girl on the end finds a piece of red string.

Held one way, the string is a straight line, but whipped or snapped or slithered, it transforms into a dancing dragon, a trapeze rope, or popping fireworks! Pierr Morgan's charming watercolors help readers see those transformations.

After sharing the book with children, challenge them to try one of four activities that appear inside the book's front and back covers. Or try the simple BOOK-TIVITY below!

Booktivity Header GraphicBOOK-TIVITY: Jiggle the Squiggle
Provide your child with a sheet of white drawing paper and a piece of red string or yarn about 12 to 18 inches in length. Lay a squiggle of string on the drawing paper and let the child jiggle it around -- as the girl in the story did -- until they see something in its shape. Kids can use crayons, pencils, or watercolor paints to transform their string into something else!

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Do's & Don't Book Cover

DO help keep the house clean.
DON'T vacuum up the cat.

DO wear clean underwear. DON'T wear it on your head.

DO brush your teeth after every meal.
DON'T brush with peanut butter.

Life lessons from artist Todd Parr form the basis of one of his four new books, Do's and Don'ts (Little, Brown, and Company). Another book from Parr, Things That Make You Feel Good, Things That Make You Feel Bad, follows a similar format. With illustrations in bold yellow, red, green, and blue, these books are sure to tickle any kid's (or any adult's) funny bone. Well worth the investment -- Do's and Don'ts is $4.16 from!

Booktivity Header GraphicBOOK-TIVITY: My Personal Do's and Don'ts
After sharing this fun book with your child, it would be so natural to sit around giggling at your own do's and don'ts. Brainstorm lessons to live by with your child, draw simple Parr-like illustrations to accompany them, and create [Your child's name]'s Do's and Don'ts. This will be a great book to drag out in 10 or 15 years to show your child's spouse-to-be!

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Aesop book Cover

In Aesop and Company (Houghton Mifflin), Barbara Bader faithfully retells 19 most important fables, complete with their concluding morals. Bader has also included a scholarly introduction with sources and an epilogue about Aesop and the myth surrounding his life. Arthur Geisert's bold and handsome designs make each fable a work of art.

Return to Education World's Summer Reading Ideas page.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor in Chief
Copyright © 1999, 2002 Education World




Last updated 06/23/2017