Kids' crafts are so intriguing because they tend to utilize a diverse amount of materials. Put a pile of scrap paper, cardboard tubes, plastic containers, egg cartons and rubber bands in front of ten different kids and you will undoubtedly get ten very different outcomes. They eagerly accept such humble materials as suitable mediums for their craft. The fact that most of these materials can be found in the recycling bin is a bonus, both environmentally and economically. Kate Lilley's book Eco-Friendly Crafting With Kids celebrates this fact to the fullest.
You may be familiar with Kate Lilley's work from her UK-based blog MiniEco. She is a major proponent of creating projects that parents and kids can do together with the least amount of environmental impact possible. As she states in her introduction, she has witnessed first-hand the old adage about kids always playing with the box an expensive toy comes in, rather than the toy itself. So she puts the box (and carton, cup and bottle) front and center, to great results.
The first thing I gratefully noticed is that every project in Eco-friendly Crafting With Kids is aimed at preschool kids. So many crafts seem to be tailored for kids whose motor skills and cognitive abilities are much more advanced than those in the toddler and young children category. It is refreshing to have an entire book dedicated to the age bracket where it is particularly challenging to keep kids engaged and occupied.
The second thing I noticed was how gorgeous the book is itself. The photographs are top notch and the overall design is very pleasing to the eye. Backgrounds of lined and graph paper give a school-like feel, and the color choices behind each block of text are subtle yet effective. The fonts for each heading are on the quirky side without going overboard, and there is a handy list of suppliers and series of templates in the back.
The book is split into eight sections: Homemade Materials, Music, Nature, Recycling Bin, Paper and Card, Sewing and Threading, Science, and Boredom Busters. Quickly flipping to the Music section, I was greeted with a handsome cardboard box guitar that I know my daughter would love. The plans for a rainstick were simple yet ingenious, and the bottle xylophone looked pleasing both to the eye and the ear. The Science section was my next stop, and while the invisible ink project was old news, the method for coloring flowers was quite extraordinary. There was also a project called magic potion, which involved red cabbage, of all things, being used in a way I had never even considered possible.
Eco-friendly Crafting With Kids is a perfect book for any parent, caretaker or teacher who is looking for fun and meaningful activities to do with preschool-aged kids. The instructions are clear, the photos are crisp and the projects themselves are sure to be a hit.
Eco-friendly Crafting With Kids, by Kate Lilley, is published by Ryland, Peters & Small and is available at Amazon and, hopefully, your local book store.
(Images from Eco-Friendly Crafting with Kids, Ryland, Peters & Small)
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