This book holds a special place in my library. If I could keep only one inspiring activity book - this would be the one. Originally published in 1973, it is packed with well over a hundred classic activities including: weaving, sewing, tool making, printing, toy making, paper crafts, candle making and more.
The activities are well explained with simple handwritten instructions and sketches, but what I really responded to was the thesis behind the book, explained in the introduction:
"The wonder and understanding of simple beginnings- the fabric of living and life-skills is the art of human ecology and the balance of sanity. We have been so distracted and astounded by our technological achievements that in our excitement we foster specialization and reap distortion, rendering ourselves less than human."
These are strong statements for an activity book!
she goes on:
"The phenomenon of learning belongs to the child, not the teacher. We do not teach a child to walk - one of many skill potentials innate in all beginners. At best, we stimulate discovery, desire and curiosity, encourage and whet the appetite, provide space, and anticipate readiness to exercise the inevitable.
Learning by experience is profound knowledge more deeply recorded in the memory than theory or speculation. Children left to their own devices will show you how they learn. The most direct, immediate and satisfying path to knowledge is visual and manual experience linked with the urgency of interest. A good teacher will find it or create it."
Wiseman's book encourages us not just to be makers, or crafters, but to play, explore and embrace the process. Her simple instructions offer enough information to get the reader headed in the right direction, but there are no strict patterns or exact measurements offered. She leave lots of open space in her projects for the head and hands to invent and discover.
This book deserves a place on the bookshelves of all families with kids. It also makes a great gift for anyone (grandparents, teachers, cool aunts and uncles, new parents). There are several editions available now on amazon. Enjoy!
What is your go-to activity book?