Super reviews!

 In this quintessential guide to summer activities, kids will learn the old-fashioned joys of creating their own fun!

Parents and kids alike will absolutely love this boredom-busting guide to outdoor and indoor summer fun! Filled with hundreds of ideas for games with friends, solo activities, DIY projects, recipes and fascinating fun facts, this book will teach kids just how much there is to do when the screens are turned off.

Kids will learn:

  • How to catch a fish
  • How to crack a code
  • How to master canoe strokes
  • How to make fresh lemonade (complete with an economics lesson about selling at a lemonade stand!)
  • How to put on a play
  • How to do rock art
  • How to make a tie-dyed shirt
  • Games for surviving car trips
  • And so much more!

Appealing to a wide range of ages, abilities, and timeframes, The Canadian Kid’s Guide to Outdoor Fun will connect kids to the world around them and to one another. Some activities are classics, some will get them started on a new adventure, but each and every one is safe, easy, instant and requires virtually no adult intervention — except to join in the fun, of course!

Scholastic Canada ISBN 978-1443148450

Most children look forward excitedly to the end of the school year and the days of seemingly endless freedom ahead of them. As many parents have experienced, only too soon their children’s excitement at being able to do what they want and when they want is replaced by repeated variations of “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!”

To the exasperated parents’ rescue comes Helaine Becker’s The Canadian Kids’ Guide to Outdoor Fun which offers an abundance of suggested activities to get kids off the couch (and away from their screens). Becker has divided her suggestions for activities into four main parts (“Get Out There”; “Make a Splash”; “Time to Play”; and “Around the Campfire”) which, in turn, are subdivided into two-page titled sections.

In the main, the activities in the 18 sections in “Get Out There” take children out of the house and into their yards and neighbourhoods. Often, a two-page section will suggest more than one activity. For example, “Take a Hike” begins by introducing some hiking safety and trail courtesy tips before suggesting the idea of incorporating a “Colour Swatch Scavenger Hunt” or “Preserv[ing] a Spiderweb” or “Tak[ing] a Peek at Leaf Litter” into the hike.

The 13 sections in “Make a Splash” offer ideas for things that can be done at a lake, beach or pool, with some of them occurring in the water and others on land. For instance, before a watermelon is transformed into “Watermelon Pizza’ (p.73), it can be used in the pool/lake as the “ball” in a game of “Watermelon Soccer”. (p. 56)

Because not all summer days are perfect weather-wise, the 21 sections in “Time to Play” have suggestions of things to do when it is too hot, cold or wet to be outside. Because these activities are generally to be done within the confines of a residence, most are of the “quieter” type, including crafts (“Friendship Bracelet), games (“Pin the Horn on the Unicorn”), challenges (“Smarties Suck-Ups”), microwave baking (“Chocolate Mug Cakes) and performance (Ye Olde Pull-the-Rabbit-Out-of-a-Hat Trick”).

The last and shortest part of the book, with just 11sections, is “Around the Campfire”. Though “Smores Galore” and “Roast the Perfect Marshmallow’ could be done over a barbeque in the backyard, the opportunity to make and extinguish an open fire may have to wait until the book’s readers are at a place like a rural summer camp due to fire regulations in many urban areas.

As Becker acknowledges, “Some [of the book’s activities] are summer classics. Others are all-new, or modern twists on an old theme. Some will be daylong, even summer-long projects, and many you can do any time, anywhere in minutes. They can be enjoyed on your own, with friends and siblings and with larger groups of all ages.” Becker could have added that some, like games such as “What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf”, can be done immediately on the spot while others, including a craft like “Kick-the-Can Ice Cream”, may need to be delayed until needed ingredients and/or equipment are assembled.

In some ways, the contents of The Canadian Kids’ Guide to Outdoor Fun serve as introductions to areas that might spark a deeper interest in a child, an interest that then needs further exploration. Two prime examples are Becker’s brief introductions to outdoor pastimes such as canoeing and fishing. However, something as “small” as making a square bubble could send a child to the library or the Internet in search of more sophisticated bubble-making techniques.

Claudia Dávila’s cartoon-like illustrations are a mixture of decorative and functional. The book contains a detailed table of contents and an index.

Meant to be browsed through, as opposed to being read cover to cover, The Canadian Kids’ Guide to Outdoor Fun is a definite home purchase, but its contents will appeal to anyone who has to come up with activities that will engage children (and not just during the summer break).

Recommended                                                            - CM Magazine

Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, 
Starred Selection, 2019

 2020 TD Summer Reading Club Top Ten