Wednesday, May 12, 2021

30 Activity Books for Kids Ages 8-12

Summer is quickly approaching, which means that it's time to start preparing to keep your kids busy over the hot months ahead.

Today's post is for kids ages 8 to 12 who are creative and inquiring. Check out this list of excellent activity books for long car trips, lounging by the pool, airplane rides, or simple staycations. 

The following are Amazon affiliate links. See my sidebar for more information. 

Question a Day Journal

A daily journal to help kids ages 8 to 12 explore who they are.

Do you want to get to know yourself a little better? This question a day journal is bursting with amazing prompts for you to answer. What is your favorite kind of music? How would you use different superpowers? Is there anything that makes you nervous? Answer questions like these every day for a whole year!

Discover a question a day journal that offers:

  • 365 Prompts―Find out how much fun journaling can be by answering a brand new prompt every day.
  • Kid-friendly questions―Explore questions perfect for young writers like you.
  • A positive approach―Feel great when you write about your hopes, share what you’re good at, and more.



3 Minute Gratitude Journal

The 3 Minute Gratitude Journal is a guide to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for children. It is a self exploration journal designed to focus on being thankful for what we have, the big things in life, as well as the simple joys. Each well designed and kid-friendly daily spread contains space to list out three things you are thankful for, a person who brought you joy and how you felt about your day. If you start each day by writing down three things you are thankful for - a family, a favorite teacher, starting a good book - you begin each day on the right note. Do it daily and make it a habit to focus on the blessings you have been given! Grab a copy for a friend and share the journey together!



Mindfulness Workbook for Kids

Mindfulness can help kids overcome challenges, take care of big feelings, and learn from their experiences and the world around them. This book about mindfulness for kids provides fun exercises and easy strategies to help your child find focus, develop coping skills, and handle tough situations.

Kids will start their mindfulness journey with practical tools that help them act with kindness toward themselves and others, live with greater positivity and joy, and deal with common issues like impulsiveness, anxiety, and concentration.



Really Fun Travel Activity Book

Whether you have some downtime on holiday or need a boredom-beater for the car these carefully selected fun colouring images, mazes, jokes, riddles, quizzes & puzzles are perfect to keep kids entertained for hours.

Ideal for both girls & boys each page is easy to follow, introducing suitably challenging activities for your child. From confidence boosting easy starters to tricky brain ticklers these fun exercises help develop concentration, imagination and problem solving skills.



Highlights Book of Things to Do

This highly visual, hands-on activity book shows kids some of the best ways to do great things--from practicing the lost arts of knot-tying, building campfires, connecting circuits, playing jump rope, drawing maps, and writing letters, to learning how to empower themselves socially, emotionally, and in their communities. The final chapter, Do Great Things, inspires kids become caring individuals, confident problem solvers, and thoughtful people who can change the world.



Awesome Games for Smart Kids

This activity book contains more than 50 activities include crosswords, word searches, Sudoku, mazes, logic puzzles, codeword puzzles, jokes, and more. It will provide children with hours of brain stimulation and challenges. Ideal for a break from the screens during a long journey or on a rainy day.



Brain Games for Clever Kids

The perfect companion for vacation, this collection contains more than 90 puzzles, including memory, word, and number workouts; codes; battleships; and mind-bending spot-the-differences. There are hours of fun to be had with Japanese puzzles, including hanjie, kakuro, hitori, sudoku, and lots more. Let the brain games begin.



Everything Kids Puzzle Book

Decode a secret message using the phases of the moon, wind your way through a pizza maze, find hidden presidents, borrow some drachmas, unscramble an invention time line, play super duper tic-tac-toe, classic hangman, match up snowflakes, and more with The Everything Kids’ Puzzle Book!



Ultimate Puzzle Book

From complex crosswords to crazy mazes, this complete puzzle book for kids ages 9-12 delivers hours of mind-bending entertainment for budding brainiacs. You can play alone or play with a friend in the games-for-two section. There’s even an answer key in the back of the book if you get stuck!



Everything Kids Games and Puzzles Book

What's not to love about puzzles? Unlocking answers, solving mysteries, breaking codes--you're practically a super-spy and you haven't even left your house. Not to mention how puzzles prove what a superior brain you have! The Everything Kids' Games and Puzzles Book is chock-full of more than 100 challenging and satisfying word games, logic puzzles, and brain teasers.



The Brainiest Insaniest Puzzle Book

An outrageously clever and colorful bonanza of more than 250 mind-teasing mazes, word games, visual puzzles, and much more. 

Wind your way through the twisted cemetery gates in Dead End. Match sunburned kids to their beach gear by examining their Hot Lines. In It's Astro-Logical, figure out which astronaut is asleep on the job. Decipher the words that are shimmering underwater in All Wet. And discover puzzles within puzzles, like Crunch Time: rearrange every letter in a finished crossword to solve a riddle. 



101 Awesome Bible Puzzles for Kids

Parents, here's a fun and safe way to let your kids try out their detective skills. This entertaining collection of Bible puzzles provides ample opportunities for your kids, ages 8 to 12, to challenge themselves or match wits with a friend as they search for hidden words, find their way through mazes, and solve riddles.



Brain Games

In this fascinating, interactive book -- a companion to the National Geographic Channel hit show ? kids explore the parts of the brain and how it all works, brainy news nuggets from a neuroscientist, plus fun facts and crazy challenges.



Big Brain Teasers Book for Kids

This huge book of brain teaser puzzles for kids is perfect for ages 9 - 12 and up. Keep your kids busy and engaged for hours of fun away from their screens! Included are long time family favorite mind teasers such as hidden pictures, cryptograms, math squares, logic grid puzzles, picross and matchsticks. Also included are cool Japanese puzzles like sudoku, maysu, slitherlink, and numberlink.



Perfectly Logical

Puzzles and brain games are a great way for kids to exercise their minds while having a blast! Perfectly Logical! helps inquisitive kids develop logical reasoning skills with a mix of 100 challenging puzzles that get more difficult as they progress.



Brain Games

Calling all fans of the Brain Games TV show! Exercise your mental muscle with awesome challenges, wacky logic puzzles, optical illusions, and brain-busting riddles. Write-in pages include both games and short explanations of the neuroscience at work. Have fun and challenge yourself as you unleash your inner creativity and become the genius we all know you are.



Ultimate Puzzle Challenge

The puzzling experts at Highlights have assembled a brand-new, 256-page collection of our most challenging--and most rewarding--puzzles yet. Created for puzzle-loving kids who are ready to up their puzzle game, the book is bursting with a wide variety of mind-bending, super-challenging visual puzzles and clever word puzzles, all infused with a sense of playful humor that will make kids want to keep on puzzling. With a full-color interior of engaging illustrations and brilliant photos, this puzzle collection is sure to please the most discerning of puzzle-loving kids.



How to Draw All the Things

Perfect for budding artists and kids who have never drawn before, this beginner drawing book will teach your kid how to draw cool things in no time! Author and professional artist Alli Koch's kid friendly, mini drawing lessons will help your child practice their basic art skills and teach them how to draw with confidence. This book is perfect for kids 8-12, but kids 5-7 with an interest in art will be able to easily follow along as well. From cupcakes, to unicorns, to cars, and cats, your kid will be drawing all sorts of things that they'll want to show off to their friends, or color afterward and hang on their room! No experience required!



The How to Draw Book for Kids

Learning to draw has never been easier! The How to Draw Book for Kids uses simple step-by-step guides to teach kids of all ages how to draw cute and silly things. Choose from five super fun themes, including: Cute Creatures (hello, llama!), Fairytale Fun, Under the Sea, Outer Space, and Tasty Treats. You've never seen a cute donut or a sweeter rocket ship. Add drawings to a composition with fun colors and kids will have their very own piece of art to enjoy or gift!



Blank Comic Book

Kids love making their own cartoons and comics and, this Blank Comic Book for Kids is the book you need. Filled with comic book templates of various styles, with 150 pages, this book will keep budding artists busy for hours. This is a big comic book, 8.5" x 11", so lots of room for them to immerse themselves in their own creativity. Also, fun games at the end of the book make kids even happier.



Math, Art, and Drawing Games for Kids

In Math Art and Drawing Games for Kids, you’ll find an amazing collection of more than 40 hands-on art activities that make learning about math fun!



Difficult Riddles for Smart Kids

This kids book is a collection of 300 brain teasing riddles and puzzles. Their purpose is to encourage children to think and stretch their minds. They are designed to test logic, lateral thinking as well as memory and to engage the brain in seeing patterns and connections between different things and circumstances.



Fun Riddles and Trick Questions

300+ brain-teasing riddles creatively designed to not only get your kids laughing and exploring their goofy side, but also to promote functional problem solving.



Quiz Whiz

Based on one of the most popular features on the National Geographic Kids website, this collection of themed quizzes, true-and-false questions, and photo-driven quizzes, will include questions about animals, weather, countries, and lots more. This compact book is just he right size to toss into a backpack and will make car trips, dentists' waiting rooms, even visits to the mall enjoyable experiences for all.



Would You Rather

Laugh and learn with 160+ questions designed to make kids giggle, think, and figure out who's the wittiest (and silliest) of all! Would You Rather? Made You Think! Edition provides endless hours of fun for eight- to twelve-year-olds who love a challenge--and a good laugh.



Everything Kids Word Search

Become a word sleuth! You’ll find tons of hidden words (and clues that lead to other puzzles) in The Kids’ Word Search Puzzle and Activity Book.



Word Search for Kids

With our expertly designed word search puzzles, you can find words in all places (upside down, reverse, overlapping, and many more!). Your child will also experience fun themes while word searching such as planets, animals, food, and other cool stuff!



Easy Origami

Here are 32 simple projects that are a snap for beginners! There are illustrations and instructions for folding a hat, cup, and pinwheel. There are even more difficult models such as a penguin, pelican, and piano.



100 Easy STEAM Activities

Feeling bored on a rainy day? Now you can pick a project, gather your supplies and let the magic happen. Try far-out science experiments like making Shaving Cream Rain Clouds or Lava Lamps. Make math-time snack-time with delicious Cream-Filled Cookie Fractions. Unlock boundless creativity with art projects like Marbled Paper or Monster Bugs. With seasonal activities like the Pool Noodle Obstacle Course and Erupting Pumpkins, there are games to love year-round.



Big Fun Kids Cookbook

The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook from Food Network Magazine gives young food lovers everything they need to succeed in the kitchen. Each recipe is totally foolproof and easy to follow, with color photos and tips to help beginners get excited about cooking. The book includes recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert—all from the trusted chefs in Food Network’s test kitchen.

Monday, May 10, 2021

New Website & Titles from Nacho Books

The following is sponsored post with Nacho Books. All thoughts and opinions are mine. 

Friends! I've been highlighting Nacho Books for a few years now because they are so well done and are hugely popular among the bilingual homeschool community. 

New Website

Well, I'm excited to share that they have just launched a brand new website! It's easier than ever to find their amazing products, including new ones such as the ones below.

Susaeta is a leading publisher of children's learning books throughout Latin America. In fact, I've heard from many homeschooling moms that they learned to read with Nacho books when they were kids in Venezuela, Colombia, and other Spanish-speaking countries. Their products have been really hard to find here in the United States, but thanks to Nacho Books, they are now available!

New Titles

The response has been so positive that Nacho Books has decided to expand the number of titles that they carry. They were kind enough to send me several for review, which I'll do over the next few months. 

The first two titles I want to highlight for those of you who are preparing to homeschool (again or for the first time) next year, are below.


Lecturas Integradas is ideal for emergent readers in 1st through 2nd grades. This book is packed full of stories that boost vocabulary, as well as comprehension questions to reinforce what they've read. The book still reviews the alphabet here and there simply to help students master it. But the focus is on reading and writing. 


Matemáticas A is best for students in 1st and 2nd grade (in my opinion). It begins with number recognition (1 - 100), quickly moves into double digit addition, and continues all the way through understanding how to interpret different types of graphs. 

These activity books should not be used as complete curricula (they don't teach how to do the various concepts), but rather they make excellent supplements as a fun way to practice in addition to their lessons. I think I would use these as activity books for car rides, on trips, or simply to pass the time at home.

If either of these sound like what you are looking for, go and check their website out! Or if you are looking for books in Spanish that teach concepts in grades PreK through 2nd grade, take a look at all the other titles on their website. 

A Discount for YOU!


MommyMaestra readers can get a 30% discount on any order of Nacho Books. Just use this link and the discount code MommyMaestra at checkout.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Makanaka's World: Adventure in Morocco

This is a sponsored book post with Global Kidz House. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post uses affiliate links.

If you are like me, you are always on the lookout for diverse books to read and share with your children. Raising a global citizen, a person who is able to communicate and appreciate people from all across the world, is an empowering action. Doing so helps us enact change in our world. And part of that journey to global citizenship is deeply rooted in diverse literature. Which is why today, I'm so very pleased to share Global Kidz House with you!

This new publishing company highlights the stories of Africa and the African diaspora through their publication of children's books. Their first book has recently been released and I have had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of it. 

Makanaka's World is a series following a young girl named Makanaka and her pet parrot, Fari. Makanaka has friends ALL over the world, of course, and loves to visit them with the help of Fari. He isn't just your average pet parrot. Her little feathered friend has the special ability to transform into an airplane that can fly anywhere in the world. 

In this first book, Adventure in Morocco (aff), the two fly to the North African country to visit Makanaka's friend, Nadia. Upon their arrival, there is trouble to be found, and Makanaka and her friends set out to help. Along the way, they explore the city of Casablanca and its rich culture.

The illustrations are lovely; they are colorful and engaging without being too busy for little readers. 

There is also a glossary and a world map in the back of the book, as well as a couple of pages with photographs that give a mini tour of Morocco. 

This book is recommended for children in K - 3rd or 5 - 8 years old, but my 3yo loves it. 

The really fun thing is that there is also a 7-page curriculum guide for the book. It comes with discussion questions, recipes, and activity ideas to go along with the story. 

This story is a good addition for lesson plans on world cultures, travel, geography, global citizens, family, friends, Africa, Morocco, Casablanca, soccer, languages, Arabic, and more.

You can click the links above to purchase this book, or find it here on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Virtual Language Camp by Cultural Bytes

Virtual Language Camp by Cultural Bytes

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with Cultural Bytes. This review is written by MommyMaestra reader and homeschooling mom, Nisha Congrove. 

Online Language Learning

Virtual Language Camp (ViLaCa) is a set of online Spanish immersion courses for elementary school aged children offered through Cultural Bytes. Classes meet Monday through Thursday (1 hour per day) for an entire month. Each class is designed to stand alone, so you can pay per individual class ($10 each), or for the entire month ($60) and attend as many classes as you like within that time period. For the month of April, class met 17 times, so that worked out to be about $3.50 per class. 

There are two levels available. A younger class is directed towards kindergarteners and first graders, and an older class is geared for those in the 2nd through 4th grades (per ViLaCa’s website), although director Jackie Amaya said the younger group could work for ages 4-6 and the older one for ages 7-12. I did try the “Little Kids Group” with my 4 year old (nearly 5), but it was not ideal. The level of the vocabulary, the amount of written text and the length of the class (1 hour) made it a stretch for her. It was, however, a great fit for my first grader. A mature kindergartener might benefit from the class, but personally, I would recommend it for 1st grade and above. 

While I am on the topic of who this class is directed towards, please note that this camp is for students who already have a fairly high proficiency in Spanish. All materials and information are presented in Spanish by native speakers and the only reference to English is a brief “glosario” at the end of each class. While children don’t necessarily need to have strong skills in speaking Spanish, they should be able to comprehend it at a high level or they will likely be frustrated. 

Virtual Language Camp

What we enjoyed about our experience 

My favorite part about this camp is the approach that it takes toward language teaching: Content Based Instruction (CBI). Students are presented with interesting new content in the target language. For example, one course we attended was all about the guaraná fruit. My kids were introduced to where it grows, how it is eaten, its presence in indigenous myths, and medicinal properties. The benefit of such an approach is that the students are gaining new information (which is inherently motivating!) and which keeps them engaged as they are being exposed to large amounts of input. This approach worked, for I noticed that my kids were excited to share what they learned later with friends and family. 

In addition, the content presented in ViLaCa is not only appealing for kids, but also culturally relevant. Topics all relate to the Spanish-speaking world, which made me as a mamá quite happy. Besides the guaraná fruit, my kids learned about Andean bears, a national park in Colombia, and a couple games played in the Spanish-speaking countries. This prompted me to pull out pictures from my own travels in South America to share with the kids, so I greatly appreciated the chance to make these connections with them.    

Another aspect of ViLaCa that we loved were the teachers. We got to experience two of them, and both were excellent. They interacted on a personal level with my kids and quickly adapted to their differing ages and language abilities. They were cheerful, funny, and seemed to take genuine interest in my children. 

In addition, as advertised, the classes were certainly “cozy.” Classes are capped at 10 students per level, but the week we attended I saw no more than 3 students per class. In fact, a couple of the days we got one-on-one attention! 

Finally, the classes made effective use of multimedia. They typically included a short video or two, visually appealing slides, plenty of pictures, background music, and crafts. This variety helped keep the students’ interest. My kids took note of fun details such as animations and the ability to use the screen sharing function to color slides.  



What we'd like to see in future classes

Consistency in the level of content 
It seemed to me that the difficulty of particular classes widely varied. For example, the class on games had very manageable content for my 1st grader. The PowerPoint slides had a reasonable amount of text and contained mostly familiar language with unfamiliar vocabulary sprinkled throughout. In contrast, the class on the Andean bear (oso de anteojos) went into so much scientific detail that individual slides often had numerous terms that needed explaining. The difference in difficulty of the text affected student interaction, as seen in my next point. 

Interactivity 
While the classes were certainly interactive, I would have preferred even more opportunities for my kids to give oral responses. On some days the amount of text on the PowerPoint slides meant that the teacher needed to spend significant amounts of time reading or going over the information on the slides, which necessarily limited questions and responses.  

Creativity of crafts
I appreciated the effort to include a craft or two each day. (Parents are emailed a link to documents that can be printed out). My children enjoyed the coloring pages and creating objects out of playdough. This seemed to be the extent of the crafts, though it's possible that the crafts change each week. While it didn’t bother my children to repeat these activities each day for a week, I doubt they would have been as interested to continue in the same vein for an entire month. I think more development in this area would increase the effectiveness of the class.

Conclusion

       For Spanish-speaking elementary school kids this camp is well worth your while to check out! Its approach to teaching language is solid and effective. The camp is also very reasonably priced with quality teachers. Kids will leave it having gained greater knowledge of the world, been exposed to large amounts of rich input, and established positive cultural connections to the Hispanic world. With a few tweaks to the content and crafts, this great program might be even better, but for the price we were quite happy. 

To try a class on your own, visit Cultural Bytes to sign up today!

Want to find this post again? Pin it!


Disclosure: I was given a week of free classes for review purposes. All opinions are my own. 

---------------

Nisha Elena Congrove is a second-generation homeschooler and mom of 4.  She is currently bilingually homeschooling a 1st grader and a preschooler. She also holds a B.A. in Spanish education, and an M.A. in TESOL and Second Language Acquisition. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

TpT's Teacher Appreciation Sale

 

If ever there was a year that teachers deserved some extra love and appreciation, this is it. Every teacher that I know has gone above and beyond what anyone would have ever expected of them.

So this year's Teacher Appreciation Week is in sharp focus. 

If you're a teacher reading this, thank you. Thank you for juggling, adapting, learning (on the go), being flexible, being lenient, being patient, stressing, making it work, chucking what doesn't, and for sacrificing for your students. 

If it were within my power, I'd give you a massive bonus or raise and an extra month off to sleep straight through. 

Since I can't, I figured I would at least share TpT's Teacher Appreciation Sale which starts today and runs through tomorrow. Tons of stores are on sale. Lots of great products. And there are some awesome gift card giveaways happening on Instagram. If you are a Spanish teacher, go and enter to win a $100 gift card to TpT!


If you're a parent, don't forget about my FREE Thank You Writing Pages that your children can use to write their teachers a thank you note. They are in English and Spanish.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Cinco de Mayo Resources

 

We're only two days away from Cinco de Mayo! 

But - PLEASE - say goodbye to the chips and salsa printables. Ugh. Instead, take a moment to learn about the real history with my post, Why the United States Should Celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

If you're in need of a fast and easy, print-and-go activity OR a digital activity that describes the true history behind this often misunderstood holiday, then check out my Cinco de Mayo products on TpT! (Psst! There's a sale starting tomorrow!)

The photo above is the set of Boom Cards that I made last year. Completely digital, if you already use Boom Cards in your classroom, this may be a great resource for you. If you don't use Boom Cards, then be aware that to use them you have to have an account with Boom Learning. 

Otherwise, consider one of these printable packs:


A classroom favorite, this is great for both interactive notebooks and lapbooks.


Same message in different formats.


Fun for younger students.


Best for kids in 4th through 8th grades.


Good in conjunction with any of the other informational texts.

You can find them ALL in my TpT shop

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