Are you ready to take on a project? Maybe a duct tape bag to carry your multimeter in? Or looking for a Christmas gift for your tween? Then this month’s book reviews on the best activity books for tweens are perfect for you!
Duct Tape Bags by Richela Fabian Morgan
Every year, the church club that my kids belong to has a duct tape night. Kids show up decked in the sticky stuff, whether it’s just a patch on a shirt or samurai armor. My own personal triumph was a hat, but my earrings, headband, and shoe clips another year were quite snazzy as well. All that is to say that I’m no stranger to duct tape fashion and it was a big part of my interest in the book. In fact, after I finish the review, I plan to pass it on to my niece so that on duct tape night, she too can have a fabulous accessory.
Can a kid actually do these projects? I suppose that a patient kid could. The bags are labeled easy, moderate, and challenging. The book begins with a list of supplies and tutorials of basic techniques. The author’s explanation that she started using duct tape because the fabric store was too far away falls a little flat considering the specialized nature of the duct tape used and the modern phenomenon of Amazon. Fabric can be brought to your door. Nonetheless, there are plenty of fun ideas here.
Some of the my favorite bags are “Sundance Kid”, ruffles in a bandana pattern;the matrix, a complicated looking kalidescopic clutch; and “The Bowler Hat”, a shoulder bag that combines gingham, a bowler hat, and apple, and “c’est moi.” Treating these bags like actual fashion seems laughable to me, but the alligator skin “Kemberly” and houndstooth “Hallie” are almost there. “Galaxy” could also almost pass as real fashion, but then, it could also almost pass as a garbage bag. I like the “Go Bag” because it almost doesn’t look like duct tape and “Movement Underground” because I’m a sucker for a subway map, especially if custom made to match a subway near me. “Life is a Beach” and “Pull String Sling” I like because water resistant net-like bags make sense for a material like duct tape. Finally, I love the “Lunch Bag”, but then, I love lots of lunch bags; and the “Amagansett” is a terribly witty use of those novelty tapes.
It’s a bit silly, but it’s awfully clever; for the right niche audience, Duct Tape Bags is perfect!
Electronics for Kids by Oyvind Nydal Dahl
There are two types of things that I love to teach my kids: things that I love and understand, for the obvious pleasure of sharing my joy and knowledge, and things that I don’t understand at all, because I can learn along with them and because, in some cases, I want knowledge to prevent them from having the same limits and fears that I live with.
Electricity is one of the latter subjects. It goes without saying that you should have a healthy fear of it; I, however, have an unhealthy fear. I believe electricity is magic that should not be tampered with unless someone who arrives in a celestial chariot with the words “electrician” emblazoned on the side is doing the tampering. This has led to some frustration when my husband has done some minor repair to the house’s circuits. You shouldn’t make your wife live in fear of shock and fire, but you also shouldn’t make your husband pay $600 when his knowledge plus $20 in parts could do the job. Am I right?
So all that is to say that demystifying electricity is important to me, and what better way than to start them young? I can see this gorgeous book serving as a text book for perhaps an entire year’s worth of electronics classes for our home school! It’s really for any age; it has clear photos and diagrams and plenty of them, which is great for us visual learners. I feel like I could work through this book without having to ask too many embarrassingly obvious questions, which is a big plus. Basic vocabulary is defined and all concepts are systematically and simply explained. Safety is attended to. Relevant math concepts are taught. If a project doesn’t work, possible reasons are given to assist your troubleshooting. It is explained that everyone must learn through trial and error, a hugely important concept that many kids don’t naturally grasp. This book gets five stars from me, two thumbs up! It gets a permanent spot on my book shelf.