Making Summer Fun and Educational


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

We are in final exam week at our school. The stress levels are high everywhere. But it also means that school is almost done, and summer is almost here. Summer can be so much fun, but it can also be a time for kids to lose some of their learning. Today I am sharing some products to give you and your kids some fun activities as well as learning in fun ways! We will begin with some creative activity books. Today (May 30th) is National Creativity Day and these books are perfect to get your kids and you creating and having fun! The first  are two books by Alberto Lot. There is Crayon Racing which I reviewed a couple of years ago and Crayon Adventures. They are recommended for ages 4 to 8 or as the publisher states 4 to 104. I know my high school students have been having lots of fun with them!

I will be focusing on Crayon Adventures in this review since I already shared Crayon Racing

From the Publisher:

Draw dinosaurs, monsters, and museum masterpieces! Scribble spectacular skateboard tricks and high dives. Design knights’ helmets, wild hairstyles, and the fastest car in the world! Create the most colorful volcanic explosion and the most delicious–or disgusting–pizza EVER! Coloring is now an adventure! 208 pages PACKED with over 100 unique things to doodle, draw, decorate and more! Great for planes, trains, cars, restaurants, and more, Crayon Adventures is the perfect backpack companion for kids from 4 to 104.

From Me:

As I mentioned I used this book in my high school class. It is final exam week, and the kids are a bit stressed out. After a couple of my juniors finished their exams, I gave this book and a box of crayons to them to see what they could create. I opened the book for each of them to a picture of a dinosaur. They are both very artistic kids who both needed a mental break after their math exam. 

The first student had fun coloring this page and then tried a few other pages. I will share them later. The second student LOVES dinosaurs and got so excited to see the dinosaur page. Look at the details he put into it.

Each page in the book has an activity or picture to color and I love the creativity they expire. Check out this page of "boring" buildings. The words suggest making them silly. My student certainly did.

Some of the pages even include some educational facts like this one about the roots. 

The page even includes some other things to spot underground. As you can see the pages are fun for different ages and will keep kids entertained for some time. Some of the activities are for two people like the first sample page I shared. This book and Crayon Racing are fun activity books kids will love!! They are perfect for rainy days, car or airplane rides or when they say, "I'm bored." I hope you will check them out. Be sure to keep an eye on my Instagram and/or Facebook page today to see the rest of the activities the kids completed. 

Our next book shares the monsters of Philippine mythology. It is The Amazing Beasts of Philippine Mythology When You Have to Say: "Excuse Me, Mister Monster Sir!" written and illustrated by The Ang Ink Artists Collective. The reading age for this book is 14 to 18, but I think it would be a fun book to read with younger kids and discuss the various monsters.

From the Publisher:

Meet the creepy creatures and amazing beasts from Philippine mythology!

This delightful compendium of mythical creatures (and where to find them) takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the ghoulish and gory things that go bump in the night—blood-sucking trolls, shape-shifting goblins and terrifying vampires who defend their turf with glee as they unleash chaos in the world.

Monsters and magical creatures spring vividly to life on every page of this book thanks to the exceptional artistic talents of some of Asia's leading children's book illustrators. Brief bilingual descriptions and dazzling illustrations introduce 56 fun, freaky and fearsome creatures, including:
  • Mandurugos — whose long tongues slither down through cracks in the ceiling to suck out the souls of unsuspecting sleepers at night
  • Busos — who noisily gather in cemeteries to dig up and consume freshly-buried corpses
  • Tiktiks — who swoop, hop and crawl as they prey on babies, the elderly and pregnant women
  • Batibats — who drop from the house beams at night to suffocate sleepers with their huge bodies
And yes, they live among us—in secret burrows, hollow trees, underwater caverns—and especially in the spaces we call home. "Tabi-tabi po" is the phrase to be invoked in their presence, meaning, "Kindly step aside, Sir, and allow me to pass." These words are respectfully addressed to the unseen creatures who jealously guard their turf and don't take kindly to trespassers, intentional or otherwise.

So be forewarned as you venture into this supernatural realm. Get acquainted with these amazing beasts, and remember to say, "Tabi-tabi po!" when you meet them!

From Me:

This bilingual book is fun!! The illustrations of the monsters and a bit about them and their myths are in the book in English and Filipino. The book shares the origin and type of monster each is as well. The monsters vary from all different types and activities. 

I think it would be fun for kids to learn about the monsters and then try to draw their own versions of them or create their own monster. It would also be fun to try to find some of the myths that these beasts are from. I know kids who love the horror and scary stories that would love this book! It is a fun way to introduce mythology as well as another culture. 

The next book takes us to Thailand and shares the various celebrations that happen throughout the year. The book is Thai Celebrations for Children: Festivals, Holidays, and Traditions by Elaine Russell ad illustrated by Patcharee Meesukhon. It is suggested for ages 5 to 10. 

From the Publisher:

It's time to celebrate, Thai style!

Thai Celebrations for Children showcases the rich culture and colorful festivals of the Thai people. The charming illustrations and engaging text bring to life the incredible pageantry and symbolism of Thailand's many traditional celebrations—from family anniversaries to national holidays—in a way kids will enjoy.

Have you ever been to an event honoring elephants? Or seen a flying lantern? Do you know why people throw water on each other at the Sonkran Festival? Kids will discover time-honored traditions and find the answers to fascinating questions within the pages of this book.

Enjoy the celebrations at home with:
  • An exciting exploration of everything from the Bor Sang Umbrella Festival to Thai National Elephant Day
  • Instructions for making a Phi Ta Khon ghost mask
  • A step-by-step guide to making your own Loi Krathong lantern boat
Turning the pages of this beautifully illustrated multicultural children's book, you'll understand why in Thailand there's always a good reason to celebrate!

From Me:

Here is a fun book that shares various holidays like Elephant Day and National Children's Day as well as festivals like the Umbrella Festival and the Ghost Festival. It also has more everyday kind of traditions like weddings and birthday celebrations. The book shares a bit about each and even has a couple of crafts to go with some of the festivals. It is interesting to see when the various holidays and festivals occur. Although they may not be over the summer it is still fun to learn about them and teach kids to about another culture and country. This is often something that is not done as often in school, so it helps to give them the knowledge at home. 

In the summer it would be fun to read about the various celebrations and perhaps find ways to celebrate in your own home. The book does share various Buddhist holidays so there could be a conversation about religions and differences between them. Plus, I love how so many of the celebrations share much of the Thai culture. Obviously, the crafts need to be tried as well. Think about a celebration for each week of the summer while learning about Thailand and its culture.  

Our next product is a jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle is Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Korea 1000 Pieces Jigsaw Puzzle. I always find the puzzle a great family activity. While working on the puzzle families have time to chat about anything. Having a puzzle with a photo from another country helps parents teach a bit about the photograph and its culture. 

From the Publisher:

  • 1000 pieces
  • Finished size is 24 x 18 inches (61 x 46 cm)
  • Quality design & easy to handle pieces
  • Features a beautiful, full-color photograph of Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Korea
Commonly referred to as the Northern Palace, Gyeongbok Palace was built in 1395 in the heart of Seoul (the then newly-appointed capital city). It is the first and largest of Korea's Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and remains one of Korea's top sights.

From Me:

This puzzle is a wonderful quality, and the photo is beautiful. I always love having a puzzle going when on vacation and during the summer. This one is fun and will intrigue the whole family. To find more information about the Gyenongbok Palace check out here

Here is another fun puzzle to check out. This one features a photo from the Masskara Festival in the Philippines. In fact, it is titled Masskara Festival in the Philippines 1000 Pieces Jigsaw Puzzle

From the Publisher:

  • 1000 pieces
  • Finished size is 24 x 18 inches (61 x 46 cm)
  • Quality design & easy to handle pieces
  • Features a beautiful, full-color photograph of the Philippines' MassKara festival
MassKara (literally meaning "many faces") is a popular festival held in Bacolod, Philippines every October. The colorful, smiling masks were initially designed to lift the spirits of locals during a time of challenge and tragedy. Today, the festival and its Carnival-inspired masks are a favorite of locals and tourists alike—with dance competitions, street parties, food festivals, concerts and more. Bacolod has even become known as the "City of Smiles" thanks to these colorful accessories.

From Me:

The MassKara Festival takes place in October. It looks like a very fun and colorful festival to check out. I can see kids enjoying the puzzle trying to get the face put together and enjoying all the colors. Again I love doing puzzles as a family and learning a bit about the photograph. You can learn more about this festival here. The puzzle is great quality and so fun with the colorful photo!

Our final product for today is My First Origami Fairy Tales Kit by Joel Stern. It is an origami kit that young kids may struggle with, but an adult can make the characters for them and let them tell stories!

From the Publisher:

Step into a world of daring knights, brave princesses and fire breathing dragons!

Bestselling origami artist Joel Stern has created this engaging new kit to spark children's imaginations and keep them playing happily for hours without a computer screen. The easy-to-follow instructions and colorful folding papers in My First Origami Fairy Tales Kit make it easy to create your favorite characters and use them to tell stories.

Kids will have fun folding up the characters and applying dozens of fairy tale stickers to add finishing touches to their models. The characters can be moved around in front of the included story backdrops to reenact classic stories—or even to set off on brand new adventures!

This kit includes:
  • 36 folding sheets for 11 different characters that are easy for young kids to fold
  • 6 interchangeable story backdrops
  • 85 stickers to use in decorating the characters and backdrops
  • A full-color book explaining the characters and showing you how to fold the models
The materials in this kit play up a child's own natural storytelling ability and imagination, using characters like the following:
  • The chivalrous Knight who comes complete with a gleaming sword and a shield—and a good thing, too, because a nasty Dragon awaits!
  • A fearless Princess who can sport any of four different dresses—perfect for daily use around the castle, yet rugged enough to contend with a marauding Witch!
  • The crafty Gnome conjures up a brimming, glittering bag of gold, but a brutish Ogre is in hot pursuit to seize it!
  • A cunning Wolf spies on an unsuspecting Pig—but let's hope Piggy has built his house with bricks to keep the Wolf out!
This origami for kids kit is sure to inspire hours of play time, while also allowing kids to improve dexterity and learn about geometry (without them ever realizing it!) thanks to the practice of folding origami.

From Me:

I love origami for kids of different ages. The folding and following instructions teach so much. You can also teach and discover geometry with it. But this kit isn't just about the folding. It is meant to give kids playthings and storytelling things. When Hazel was young, she used to act out her imagined stories with her dolls and toys. She would tell my father her stories over the phone, but she would be acting them out with her dolls. This kit gives kids the toys to act out whatever stories they want whether it is a traditional fairy tale or a story they make up. And as anyone who has read my blog for awhile knows I love fairy tales! You could even use some of these origami creations to tell some of the fairy tales in other cultures! Fairy tales are meant to teach lessons to kids usually about behaving, but there is so much that they can teach. These days many people look at the relationships between the males and females and whether it is appropriate or not. I know Hazel grew up on them but also points out that the princesses are way too young for some of the things that happen. She also points out how weird it is to marry or fall in love with a man based on a kiss that wakes you up. Why should he kiss the princess while she is sleeping? I love the way her mind is thinking about it all. 

This kit is full of supplies to make everything needed for the stories. I made the sword and a shield. The kit has papers in three sizes and stickers to finish the various projects like the shield. The instructions are pretty easy to follow as well. I can see this kit being perfect for a plane trip or rainy day or even to create and then play outside. 

So as you plan your summer activities be sure to grab some of these products to give your kids and family activities that will keep everyone creating, learning, and having fun!