Using my kids as test subjects, I’ve concluded that activity books like these below (about different topics including crafts, magic, drawing, gardening, sewing, the American presidents, LEGO, and slumber parties) work very well for the tween age group. That’s not to say that activity books won’t work for other age groups but for the tweens age group (ages 8 – 12), they are independent enough to take a book, read, and do it. Not only that, it’s an in-between age where their play is changing. That means they’re often looking for new ideas and projects to try instead of as much pretend play as they used to do. Encourage your kids to invite a friend or parent to try the activity book with you, too! Cue awesome activity books . . .
Awesome Activity Books: Crafts, Magic, Gardening and More
Doodle Games Activity Book by Joe Rhatigan, illustrations by Anthony Owsley
We’ve loved this book, particularly because it facilitates a fun parent-child time. JJ and dad so far love The Mutant Game (players give each other weird mutant animal combos to draw), Doodle Dare Circles (draw as many things as you can using only circles), and Squiggle Masterpieces (squiggles that become something wonderful).
Drawing Fantasy Creatures by A.J. Sautter
This book ROCKS — JJ not only loves the step by step directions, she’s improved her drawing skills by trying most of the 48 the fantasy creatures more than once. (Above photo is of her chimera drawing.)
101 Magic Tricks Any Time, Any Place by Bryan Miles
Excellent presentation, this book will teach you step-by-step tricks and illusions. Use coins, cards, pencils, cups, and other everyday objects. This a great magic trick book because it’s written in a kid-friendly way that makes learning magic tricks doable.
Fun with Stitchables! Easy Patterns to Cross-Stitch and Sew by Suzy Ultman
Written for the beginner, this book provides sturdy sewing card designs with punched holes. Using the provided cards, kids can learn and practice their stitching. This book looks would be a clever way to get in that fine motor practice while making fun crafty projects.
The Ultimate Guide to Gardening: Grow Your Own Indoor, Vegetable, Fairy, and Other Great Gardens by Lisa J. Amstutz
No green thumbs in my house but this gorgeous book sure makes me want to try. This book is filled with beautiful indoor plant projects — a book planter, plants in teacups, a water garden, and a moonbeam garden.
51 Things to Make with Egg Cartons by Fiona Hayes
I like this book. Because if you have egg cartons and want to get crafty, you can just use it as a resource for crafty inspiration. You’ll find projects like penguins, a dump truck, or a mouse puppet.
Papertoy Glowbots 46 Glowing Robots You Can Make Yourself
Colorful card stock templates punch out so kids can assemble the robots by folding and gluing. Each robot has a name and descriptive story so you can get to know your robot toys. (I can almost see your robot army now!)
Chalk on the Wild Side by Lorie King Kaehler, photographs by Donna Starry
I had no idea there was so many options with chalk! Foaming chalk? Veggie chalk? Chalk rockets? Yup. This book has it all and looks like big fun for the entire family.
American Presidents Activity Book by Joe Rhatigan, illustrated by Anthony Owsley
I love books like this — some kids do, some don’t. If your child likes quizzes, games, doodles, crossword puzzles, fill-in-the-blank poetry, and writing prompts, try this fun, interactive book. While you’re having puzzle fun, you’ll also be learning about the American Presidents.
Girls’ Night In by Gemma Barder
Filled with fun activities for teenage girls having a slumber party, this could be a way to keep slumber parties from not becoming gossip fests. Quizzes to take, games to play, nail art to try, crafts to make, smoothies to try, and other girl-oriented activities.
The LEGO Power Functions Idea Book Cars and Contraptions by Yoshihito Isogawa
I have mixed feelings about this book. There is no text only photographs that are meant to be step by step with illustrations for the parts you’ll need. What do you think? Would your kids like it? (And, if only we all had unlimited LEGO pieces, these could be more realistic!)