Thursday, October 28, 2010

Activity Books ... not as oxymoronic as the name would imply


Oh ... you know we love books. Which is what makes it possible for me to scoff at a recent bit of fluff in the Gray Lady that simultaneously tries to sound the death knell of picture books while blaming parents for their murder.

It's true though, we sometimes borrow steal buy books that inspire us to do other things ... such as draw our own picture books.

For instance, Seven Footer Press (disclosure! I have a dear friend there) has a bunch of wonderful activity books in its collection that allow kids (of all ages) to use their imagination and fill in the blanks. Our favorite is "100 Shapes," a book of stencils by Nao Sugimoto, the pages of which can be cut out, put on a key ring and used over and over again on any number of important art works.


Judith Cressy's "What Can You Do With A Paper Bag" has been a favorite of ours since we picked it up at a library book sale a few years ago. The activity book takes its inspiration from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection and provides step-by-step instructions on making hats, headdresses and wigs out of paper bags.


And though it's not an activity book per say, Robert Sabuda's latest pop-up sculpture wonder, "Beauty and the Beast," has both kids foaming at the mouth to make their own three-dimensional storybooks. Which leads me to think maybe Santa will leave one or two of these little books under the tree.

Another book we are fond of is the homemade sketchbook.


This thing was born one night shortly before bedtime when it became painfully obvious (by the eardrum-piercing shrieks) that there was a notebook inequity among sprogs. Namely, Ittybit had many and The Champ had none.

In fewer than five minutes with my sewing machine I was able to manufacture a book and a happier bedtime.


* Two 8.5" x 11" sheets of craft or wool felt
* One 8.5" x 11" sheet of web interfacing
* 8 or 10 sheets of letter-sized paper
* Thread


* A sewing machine
* Some felt scraps for embellishments


zig-zag stitch

* If you are sewing a heart or flower onto the cover, do that first. Cut out your embellishment and place it on the center right side of one sheet of felt. Sew all the way around the edges with a zig-zag stitch. (It doesn't take long with a sewing machine, but if your kid is screaming and can't be consoled with chocolate or beer, skip to the next step.


* For the cover, sandwich the sheet of interfacing between the two sheets of felt and sew closed. I sewed two paths using zig-zag stitch: One to secure the interfacing (my interfacing scrap wasn't large enough to reach the edges) to the felt and the other to close the edges.


* Center the sheets sheets of paper onto the cover and sew along the center using the widest straight stitch available on your machine. The closer your stitch the more perforate-y your pages will be.

Of course, if you give a kid a sketchbook before bedtime you'll have to find some crayons.

Worn and broken color wheel ...

Beware of the broken ones.

1 comment:

tracy said...

hey. i may have to do this.
no felt quite that big...i don't think.
will make do. either a smaller book or a
patchwork cover.
super cute, siobhan.