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?

Pledge to Play

From "Let the Public Play," a recent exhibition at the Cambridge City Hall Annex, photo by me.  See more from this exhibition at "The Playful Season" post linked below.

From “Let the Public Play,” a recent exhibition at the Cambridge City Hall Annex, photo by me. See more from this exhibition at “The Playful Season” post linked below.

I’ve been blogging over on PEM’s Connected again, this time about the importance of intergenerational play.  Did you know that playful behavior in adults can improve your mental and physical flexibility, but that play involving adults and children can also improve empathy and conversational skills on both sides of the age divide?

Check it out here: The Playful Season.

Do you have any playful plans for this summer?  I’ll be overseeing/sitting in on a watercolor painting class, for one, and looking forward to digging out my diving gear in a week or two as well.