Five activity books from Aotearoa

Tara Ward bravely takes five Kiwi activity books for a spin, and provides photographic evidence. If you’re looking for fun, wholesome, cheap ways to pass the time these summer holidays, read on!

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Trying out Stomp Painting, one of the activities in Bright Ideas for Young Minds

Don’t be surprised if the educators who wrote Bright Ideas for Young Minds also solve world peace, because they are geniuses. Filled with an incredible variety of fun and educational activities to get kids moving, thinking and learning, Bright Ideas is every parent’s rainy-day dreams come true.

From Slippery Slime to Animal Yoga to Giant Ice Balls, the 70 activities in Bright Ideas come with helpful step-by-step instructions, information about child development, and advice on adapting the task to suit your child’s needs.

Best of all: every activity is free or low-cost, and there’s not a single piece of technology in sight. Be still, my beating heart.

Browsing Bright Ideas

My kids loved browsing through the beautiful colour photographs to choose their next activity. They spent ages doing Shadow Drawing, roared with laughter during Sock Wrestling and adored the messy fun of Stomp Painting. It turns out folding laundry will help their fine motor skills, so if I can convince Bright Ideas to include an activity about kids giving parents a foot massage while they order pizza for dinner, I’ll be set for life.

Bright Ideas for Young Minds is a true gem, the perfect resource for busy families. Filled with simple, inspirational activity ideas, it will give whānau confidence to support their child’s learning while spending quality time together. Plus, your laundry will be finished in record speed, so everyone’s winning.

Bright Ideas for Young Minds – 70 step-by-step activities to do at home with your child

By BestStart

Published by Mary Egan Publishing

RRP $39.99

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Checking out The Genius of Bugs: Activity Book

Did you know dragonflies can see ten times more colours than humans? Or that a weta’s ears are found on their legs? I’m ready to impress every kid I meet with the fascinating facts I picked up from the fun-filled The Genius of Bugs: Activity Book, published by Te Papa Press.

The Genius of Bugs: Activity Book features over 20 pages of beautifully hand-illustrated puzzles about the world of creepy-crawlies. Weta are the stuff of my nightmares, but after helping my daughters solve a Weta word puzzle, scramble through the spider maze and decipher the firefly secret code, I’m feeling at one with the bug universe.

Inspired by Te Papa’s recent exhibition, The Genius of Bugs: Activity Book is the ideal book to entertain a young bug-lover.

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The Genius of Bugs: activity book

Published by Te Papa Press

RRP $14.99

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Kuwi’s Kitchen is the latest in the Kuwi the Kiwi series of books by award-winning author and illustrator Kat Mereweather. Look out, Chelsea Winter, because this gorgeous piece of children’s culinary wizardry is going straight to the top of the cookbook pile in our house.

There’s a great sense of fun to Kuwi’s Kitchen. It’s a bright and colourful book, filled with beautiful photos of healthy ingredients and delightful illustrations of Kuwi and his friends. There’s a fantastic variety of recipes, and quirky meals like French Toast Huhu Grubs and Morris the Morepork Muffins will have kids of all ages keen to get cooking.

The recipes are easy to understand and simple to make. My four-year-old had a fantastic time creating the Yum Snails, Slugs and Bugs fruit snack, while my seven-year-old loved the Mini Banana Pancake. Dairy, gluten, refined sugar and nut free recipes are included, along with helpful information about eating healthily and sustainably.

Kuwi’s Kitchen is a fantastic addition to every kitchen, and will give your children confidence to create their own healthy, homemade goodness.

Kuwi’s Kitchen: Kiwi Kids’ Cookbook

By Kat Mereweather

Published by Illustrated Publishing

RRP $25.00

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The delightfully sized The World Travel Activity Book is a great way to keep young children busy during a long travel journey. It’s filled with simple travel activities like writing a postcard, filling in a travel journal, and using maps to locate and name countries.

My seven-year-old daughter adored The World Travel Activity Book, and spent her afternoon filling in her passport, finding her way through the city maze and colouring in the travel pictures.

It also comes with a beautiful poster of a te reo Māori world map, which has pride of place in my daughter’s bedroom and is a perfect keepsake for planning our next family adventure.

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The World Travel Activity Book

By Josh Morgan

Published by Huia Publishers

RRP $6.99

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Jam-packed with over 100 activities inspired by Te Papa’s national art collection — including 15 artworks commissioned especially for this book — The New Zealand Art Activity Book is a treasure trove of creative ideas for children.

The New Zealand Art Activity Book encourages kids to see, think and draw like artists. It’s a fascinating, hands-on way to discover Aotearoa’s artistic talent, with activities inspired by works from Māori, Pākehā, Pacific and New Zealand Asian artists.

At over 150 pages, there’s a huge variety of imaginative and inventive activities to choose from. My kids had a great time hunting for clues hidden in a painting, learning about perspective, creating a paper tīvaevae, and designing a kete. They learned about light and tone, about layering colour, and about making art that can fly.

My seven-year-old was especially excited to make Tiffany Singh’s flower artwork. Any activity that uses a hammer is a winner in her eyes, and any activity that makes her think creatively while discovering new ideas and perspectives is a winner in mine. The New Zealand Art Activity Book is a superb resource to inspire every budding young artiste.

The New Zealand Art Activity Book (revised edition)

By Helen Lloyd

Published by Te Papa Press

RRP $29.99

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Tara Ward

Tara Ward is a New Plymouth-based freelance writer, reality TV junkie, longtime silent reader and wrangler of two small people. She writes about television for The Spinoff and promises to never stop banging on about the time she gatecrashed Dr Chris Warner’s 50th birthday party.