Review: Usborne Little Children’s Drawing Book

My littlest gal is so happy. She got to review something for the blog. Timberdoodle sent us Usborne Little Children’s Drawing Book ($6) for us to review. It’s a good thing too. With her big sister taking on Artistic Pursuits this year, she’s going to want some art lessons of her own. Long story, short, she didn’t want to stop doing her art.

What Is Little Children’s Drawing Book?

The Little Children’s Drawing Book has fun activities that build your child’s fine-motor skills. Make spots on a giraffe, draw lines to show falling rain, jellyfish tentacles, and more. The book says ages 2+, and Timberdoodle includes it with their Complete Preschool Curriculum Kits. It is 48 pages long, and the paper is a smooth, matte surface upon which to draw.

What We Thought

Little Miss Ladybug LOVED it. WE did two pages – the giraffe page (pictured) and a page with rainclouds (not pictured). Well, to be honest, SHE did two pages. I just read the directions for her.

We chose to use colored pencils because we had them handy. The pages are not glossy, so the colored pencil showed up well. You could use crayons, and the pages are sturdy enough to be able to handle markers if your little one prefers to use those. I did not do a bleed test with markers, but I would be surprised, unless a child heavily saturates the page, if the color ran through on the other side.

(She was really intense). There are samples on each page to illustrate the idea that preschoolers are to copy in creating their own art. I like that the activity is structured while still being open-ended. It gives preschoolers a sense of control while also encouraging skill-development.

The pictures are bright and colorful, and that’s great for preschoolers. She didn’t want to stop, so I let her continue to the next page. I think she probably would have sat and completed the whole book if I’d have allowed her to do so. It was definitely a big hit, and now she’s very excited about starting her “learning” as she and Mr. 4 call school time.

Ideas for Using This Resource

As you know, I like to create a list of suggestions for stretching the resource. You can, of course, use Little Children’s Drawing Book as it stands. Here are some ideas if you’d like to stretch it a little bit:

  • Prior to starting the page, practice making the shape/lines on a separate piece of paper to demonstrate (especially if your child is younger).
  • Have your child create their own picture inspired by the page in the book they just completed.
  • Use the animal/image on the page as inspiration for a unit study (i.e. learn about giraffes when doing the giraffe page – read giraffe books, make giraffe crafts, watch a video with a giraffe, etc.
  • Practice counting – “Can you make 5 spots on the giraffe’s neck?” or “How many spots have you made? Let’s count them!”

This is a fun resource for those who are homeschooling younger children or for those who need something for younger siblings to do when older siblings need instruction.

Purchasing Information

You can purchase Little Children’s Drawing Book at Timberdoodle on its own for just under $6 or you may purchase the preschool curriculum that it is part of.

Review: Plus-Plus Learn to Build Jewelry

I recently had the opportunity to review the Plus-Plus Learn to Build Jewelry kit with my first grader thanks to the Brilliant Minds program. While I did receive reimbursement for my purchase of the kit, all opinions are my own. The short story: the kit was a hit.

What Learn to Build Jewelry Is

Plus-Plus Learn to Build Jewelry ($25) is a STEAM kit with little pieces that are shaped like puzzle pieces. They allow users to create 3-D objects by connecting them together. The set is meant for ages 5+. The pieces are somewhat small, so if you have a child who still likes to put things in their mouth, you might want to skip it. The kit includes 300 glitter and bright pieces and 100 Gold pieces. There’s a white baseplate to help with building, string and elastic for jewelry, and a guide book.

My 6-year-old gal unboxing the kit

What We Thought of It

Miss 6 loved it. She thought it was a lot of fun to not just string beads but to first construct the pendants for the necklace. For the review, we did the first project in the book. At six she’s mostly able to build the necklace, but needed to be reminded as to how to make a square knot, and needed a little assistance with measuring the string.

This kit is great not only for developing STEM skills, learning how to put things together, and following directions, but it’s also great for developing fine motor skills. Not only did she need to be able to interlock the pieces to build the pendants she made, but she also needed to be able to keep the pieces she’d already put together in place as she added the new ones.

I like, as a parent, that the fun doesn’t end when we finish all the projects in the book. She can create other jewelry items, or she can do some open-ended building. It makes it a versatile STEAM kit, and while some of it is consumable (the strings for making necklaces, bracelets, etc.) the beauty of the toy is that like other building kits, it’s pretty open-ended and limited only by her imagination.

Using It for STEAM Education

As is customary on this blog, I’d like to offer some ideas for extending this kit beyond the lessons in the book and just letting your child explore with it if you’d like to use it in lesson plans or for further exploration.

  • Use the puzzle pieces as counters and/or math manipulatives. They can be great for sorting, talking about sets, exploring addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You can also use them for talking about fractions.
  • Create a building/STEAM challenge. Can you build a structure that will support your favorite stuffie? Can you build something that might float?
  • Create an activity using the Plus-Plus pieces to make the child’s name or practice spelling words or reading list words.
  • Use the Plus-Plus blocks in a measuring activity.

You can purchase the Plus-Plus Learn to Build Jewelry kit on Amazon for $25.

Review: Djeco Bugs

My 5 year old loves to color. She goes through coloring books so frequently that we’ve taken to purchasing them at the Dollar Tree so we can keep up with the demand. When I was offered the opportunity to review Djeco Bugs, a scratch-off art kit carried by Timberdoodle, I knew that it would be something she might be interested in. That suspicion turned out to be absolutely correct.

About Djeco Bugs

Djeco Bugs is a scratch art set from the French company, Djeco. Kids can scratch through the inc to the surface below using the wooden tool included. There are four images in this particular kit – butterfly, caterpillar, bee, and ladybug – to work with. The kit is only $5.99, making it a nice activity for an afternoon or a nice gift for an artistically-inclined child.

Our Review

Miss 5 really enjoyed working on these. We put some newspaper underneath for easier cleanup, but it really wasn’t necessary – making it a nice no-mess activity for kids that’s different from coloring and doesn’t have the clean-up commitment of painting.

The activity set is for ages 3-6, so it’s one of those great activities for building fine motor skills. Children can make their scratchings as simple or elaborate as they would like – there are patterns underneath the blue ink. Miss 5 went through the kit in an evening and has requested that the pictures be hung on the picture wall in their playroom.

Teaching Tips

While I just let her play with and explore the Djeco Bugs Scratch Art kit, it could definitely be incorporated into both a science and an art curriculum. In fact, it’s originally bundled in Timberdoodle’s Kindergarten Curriculum Kit. Here are some ideas on how you can use the scratch art kit as a learning tool.

  • Use each image in conjunction with learning about the insects. children learn about caterpillars and butterflies, then they can complete the scratch art for that.
  • Use the pictures to talk about composition in art and patterns. Challenge your child to create a different pattern on each area of the scratch-off art.
  • Use the kit as a jumping-off point to talk about how scratch art works. First complete the art in the kit, and then create your own blank scratch art canvas. Here’s a great tutorial on making your own scratch art.
  • Use the images and the artwork created to talk about matting and framing artwork. Either hang the resulting artwork in a place where your child can see it or gift the resulting artwork to a family member or family friend.

What other ways can you think of to use the Djeco Bugs kit in your homeschool? Share your thoughts in the comments.

TinkerSketch May Art Challenge Courtesy of TinkerLab

I’ve been a fan of TinkerLab’s art, science and STEM projects for some time, but for some reason, I didn’t realize they had this monthly challenge. I think it will be a lot of fun to undertake this challenge with the kids! Head on over to TinkerLab to learn more about the May TinkerSketch art challenge – and follow me on Instagram to see what we come up with over the course of the month. 

It’s going to be fun to dig out the sketchbook and create art with the kids. Will you be participating in the challenge?