Finding the Fun: Three guides for a new school year

Fall is here (yikes! Where did summer go, anyway?) which means that even though I’m not *literally* going back to school, I still get that happy feeling about September and bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils.

Click image for photo source

Click image for photo source

For those of us who are looking for that fresh burst of inspiration and wonder that a new school year always meant, here are three great books to find the fun in your everyday, in and out of a formal learning environment!

Art is Every Day by Eileen Prince

Subtitled “Activities for the Home, Park, Museum, and City,” this book caught my eye in the bookstore immediately.  Though it is of course full of fun art-making ideas and some great examples in full-color, the most helpful parts of the book are the substantive suggestions to parents and educators about how to talk with kids about art in general and kids’ own art in particular.

Made to Play by Joel Henriques

Everyone needs a book on how to make toys, right?  The projects in this book use everyday and easily recycled materials, require a minimum of crafting know-how (some light sewing and woodworking required), and leave a lot open to the imagination of the maker for how the final product looks.  I’m seriously considering a number of the projects for possible use with my Story Trails programs.

How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith

Probably better known for her “Wreck this Journal” series, Keri Smith delivers on ways to be a more observant, curious collector of experience with her “portable life museum,” inviting you to doodle with coffee stains, photograph interesting typography, record overheard bits of conversation, and make lists of 10 things you notice in a particular space, be it familiar or entirely new.  This is another great resource for journaling prompts for kids or just to revel in your own reflective, creative practice.

What books or resources get you excited for a fresh new school year?

Paws Up for a Good Book!

"It's Common Knowledge" by Rune Guneriussen, 2009

“It’s Common Knowledge” by Rune Guneriussen, 2009

One of the perks of my job is that each new exhibition that comes through the museum gives me an excuse to read and/or research something new.  I’ve come across a number of fascinating and occasionally hilarious books during the planning of Beyond Human (opening in October), and I’ve blogged about some of my favorites over on PEM’s Connected. Find reviews of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction for kids and adults, from haiku cats to people who fly with whooping cranes.

Check it out and let me know if you have any suggestions for other artist/animal-related good reads!