Title: Crafting with Nature series, specifically Rock Crafts and Stick Crafts by Betsy Rathburn and Sand Crafts by Rebecca Salbeko
Publisher: Bellwether Media
Copyright date: 2020
Age range: 3rd through 8th grade, though it depends on the level of adult assistance
This unique crafting series for kids not only offers up crafting how-tos with objects you’re likely to find in your own backyard, also included are fun facts and additional background building relating to each craft. For example, included next to the directions for building a stick owl (p. 6 in Stick Crafts), is information about owls, with key vocabulary words in bold, such as “talons” and “roost.” A glossary in the back allows for quick reference.
Safety tips and guidelines some children might not consider appear at the front of each book. Text boxes also appear, giving the reader additional tips or facts. The crafts are built by following the numbered directions and often have matching pictures for the more complicated steps. The needed materials always have a list with pictures included, so even non-readers can help hunt for the materials.
These books haven’t seem to gain the attention of many magazine reviews or awards, I like the fact that they are only available in with a library binding option but without the steep price, on Amazon.
My kids know I’m a big fan of crafts, but only if they are simple and won’t require purchasing materials that will be seldom-used. While many of the items are found in backyards, there are times a trip to the store might be necessary, especially if you don’t own a glue gun. Perhaps that’s why these are the first craft books we’re promoting on Raising Real Readers.
I also appreciate the universal appeal that these crafts bring. I could just as easily see my son interested in making these items as my daughter. We plan on trying the Rock Message Magnets (p. 10 in Rock Crafts) over Thanksgiving break. The kids have decided they will create a symbol code and write messages that can only be cracked with the code sheet.
While creating your own sand mandala sounds fun, you might check out this incredible time lapse video! Point out the way math, science, and art contribute to beauty as the Tibetan monks create this mandala. Also, there are many brands that offer mandala coloring books for kids, should you choose to skip the sand and go for the crayon instead. I love this one, since it includes affirmations as well.
One of my favorite crafts featured in Rock Crafts required nothing but a pile of rocks, a ruler, and a hard surface! Stone cairns, or piles of stones used for landmarks, have been a family favorite for years. We love to find them in parks as we hike. I hadn’t thought about making towers of them around home, measuring to see the tallest we could make one before! The book even shares about the Llano Earth Art Festival, where rock stacking championships are held! After we tried our hand at it, my son found this video of the European Stone Stacking Championship! We were mesmerized and plan to keep trying. Don’t have rocks nearby? Want to try this in an educational space, without the mess? Try these wooden “rocks” designed for stacking:
Like the idea behind these books? Here are links to each of the six in the series, plus some others we like!