7 Books to Foster Ingenuity in Kids
I have ingenious kids.
Last week, my oldest son (8) tried to make his own candle using the wax from a Babybell cheese snack.
He peeled the wax off his cheese, ate the cheese, and then molded the wax wrapper into a little mountain shaped blob with a tiny twig in the middle for a wick.
It did not burn like a candle but did end up stuck to my hardwood floors.
It’s times like this that remind me why I’m not a fun mom.
I tell you this to help you see that my kids are going to create and invent with or without my help.
And I want to have ingenuitive kids even if it means I have to scrap Babybel cheese wax off my hardwood floors.
I have 4 secret Pinterest boards dedicated to each of my kids that are filled with fun, crafty projects for kids. I stay up at night reading other blogs with fun ideas of things to do with your kids.
And then I wake up in the morning and get involved in the day to day shenanigans of homeschooling life with 4 kids and I totally forget about the homemade lavender scented sensory dough I was going to make.
My Pinterest boards are a black hole of good intentions.
If I’m ever going to do fun, crafty activities, I need tangible, in my face on the bookshelf projects.
If this is you, check out this list of 7 books to foster ingenuity in kids.
One more thing – I love books because I can hand them to my (older) kids and tell them to read it and follow the directions. They can be responsible for assembling the supplies or writing the shopping list so we can go buy the supplies.
I taught secondary English for six years and a majority of my students could not be handed a paper with instructions, read the instructions. and follow them.
This is a tragedy.
So if my kids forget an ingredient on the list, we can’t do the project until after the next time we go to the store.
If they skip a step in the instructions and their paper mache doesn’t form right, it doesn’t form right.
I do not step in and fix it for them because that is not how life works.
My job as a parent is to raise resilient children who grow into self-sufficient adults.
And as much as I want to say, “WAIT! Y’all haven’t added the 3rd bottle of glue. It isn’t going to work!”
I let them fail.
And failure by failure, they are learning to do it with grace.
They are learning to read carefully to make sure they didn’t skip a step or an important word in their haste to get started on the fun project.
They are learning that sometimes it takes a couple of times of making a recipe before it turns out right.
They are learning that on some things “good enough” and “close enough” don’t work.
They are learning that sometimes things that you work really hard on don’t turn out as you’d hoped, but that doesn’t mean the whole process was a mistake or that you’re a failure.
And those are lessons that can only be learned one way.
I’d much rather them learn these lesson as children who can still be comforted by hugs from me and the suggestion that we try again tomorrow than to have to learn them as adults with much higher stakes.
Stepping off my soapbox now.
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7 Books to Foster Ingenuity in Kids
This book does exactly what the title says.
It has 51 different projects with step by step instructions for things that you can make with egg cartons.
For kids who love to create, this is a great book with some really creative ideas.
This book is great because you don’t have to buy many (or any!) extra supplies and when the kids are done with their projects, it’s no big deal to throw away an egg carton.
You were going to throw away a plain egg carton, now you’re throwing away an egg carton that (sort of) looks like an alligator.
A fringe benefit of this book is that kids have to have the patience to collect empty egg cartons because some of the projects require more than one egg carton.
In the instant gratification world that we live in today, this is a lost art and an admirable trait to develop.
For my eldest son’s (the candle maker) birthday this year, his siblings all chipped in and bought him this book.
They also spent 2 months secretly collecting toilet paper and paper towel tubes.
I was so proud of them because they actually got their brother a gift that they knew he would love.
And if your kids are naturally thoughtful and good gift givers, you don’t know how real the struggle can be.
My kids love to make cards and crafts for other people as gifts, and then they don’t understand why people aren’t excited about the earrings made from construction paper and paperclips.
So before Dax’s birthday, my husband and I sat down and talked with the other kids about what he liked.
It took a while to get through that it only mattered what he liked, not what they liked to make.
We walked through some ideas and with some help from me and Amazon, the kids chose this book.
And they were 100% right.
Dax LOVED it.
He has created several of the crafts in the book and they’ve all shared the cardboard tubes because they all worked to collect them for Dax.
It’s one of my proudest parenting moments.
The book is pretty much the same thing as 51 Things to Make with Egg Cartons, but it’s with cardboard tubes instead.
The real struggle at my house is getting my kids to throw away the cardboard tube projects once they’ve finished making and playing with them.
3. Mad Libs
Our town is small and doesn’t have a ton of dining options to choose from and my husband and I are both in our 30’s so Chili’s is one of our go-to restaurants.
One night while enjoying a totally calm and peaceful dinner in public because my children never lose their minds and act like crazy people the minute we walk into a restaurant, we did the Mad Libs activity on the back of the kid’s menu
out of desperation for fun.
They laughed like it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard.
Then they insisted that we do it 3 more times on the other menus.
Then they carried their menus home and read them to each other for days.
They all cracked up every single time.
So I promptly ordered a giant Mad Libs book from Amazon.
The novelty did not wear off, and they still love them.
Mad Libs have become an amazing new parenting tool we are using to the fullest.
“Y’all make sure to use your inside voices, eat all your brussel sprouts, and speak kindly to each other at dinner tonight so we can do a Mad Libs when we finish.”
“YES MA’AM!!” they yell in unison in their outside voices.
And then they DO IT.
A fringe benefit is that they are learning their parts of speech.
My three-year-old now knows that a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea.
Although, he almost always chooses “poop” as his noun.
Three-year-old boys have the best sense of humor.
4. DK Sticker Books
Y’all. I love DK books.
I think they’re all great, and I want to just buy every single one of them.
The DK books are filled with beautiful photos and are engaging and informative and basically perfect in my mind.
They have books ranging from the history of ancient Egypt to how to teach kids to manage money to the human body to space to EVERYTHING.
And while my kids enjoy reading the DK books, they especially love the DK sticker books.
The DK sticker books are really cool because they have a place for each sticker to go.
This is important when giving kids stickers otherwise you get stickers all over your
furniture, clothes, walls, pets, floors, cars, windows entire life.
So when you open up the book, it has pages with outlines. Kids then have to flip to the back and find the sticker that fits inside that outline.
These books keep my kids busy for hours.
And the stickers don’t end up everywhere because each sticker has a place to go. See above for why this is very important.
We’ve used these books on road trips, in big church, and as a reward for reaching a goal.
And, in typical DK fashion, they have a sticker book for almost anything you can imagine.
All the Disney movies, the human body, Colonial America, animals, sports, princesses, American Girl dolls, Legos, vehicles, and on and on.
5. DK Maker Lab
As I raved above, my family loves DK books.
And the DK Maker Lab books are also fantastic.
They have beautifully illustrated, step by step instructions for kids to pursue their interests.
Each book is filled with fun projects.
It’s like someone took a Pinterest board and put it in a book for kids.
So if your child has an interest in something, there’s a DK Maker book with projects for it.
Our personal favorites are the Maker Lab Outdoors and the Out of the Box: 25 Cardboard Engineering Projects for Makers.
We like the outdoor book because I like for my kids to make messes outside the house, and we like the cardboard book because my Amazon habit provides 90% of the necessary materials.
But all of the books are awesome!
They have a DK book for making slime, coding, Legos, Starwars, cooking, sewing, drawing, building, and more.
I’m done talking about DK.
6. Duct Tape Crafts
I remember the first time I saw a duct tape wallet. I was in the eighth grade, and I was so impressed that tape could be used to make something so functional.
These books of duct tape craft projects are filled with functional tutorials for duct tape.
In the long run, this book can be a bit more pricey because duct tape isn’t cheap.
But the projects aren’t messy.
So there’s pros and cons to everything.
Another thing to consider is that every single gift from your child for the foreseeable future will be made of duct tape.
So if you’re okay with carrying a duct tape wallet inside of your duct tape purse, this is great.
And if your child has an entrepreneurial spirit, they will want to sell their duct tape wares, so you should probably be ready to help start a small business with your crafty kids.
Other than that, duct tape craft projects are a great way for your kid to do something besides play on a device.
7. Creating Really Awesome Free Things: 100 Seriously Fun, Super Easy Projects for Kids
This book covers all the bases for my family.
It’s filled with seriously fun and super easy craft projects made from free things.
And honestly, it lives up to its word.
The craft projects are fun because my kids think all craft projects are fun.
They are super easy because they have great step by step tutorials.
And they are all made from free things we have around the house.
Now a lot of the supplies are normally thrown away in our home, so the kids have to let me know that they need the stuff pretty far in advance.
If you’re a zero waste family, this book will not be fun for you because it requires a lot of used boxes, cans, wrappers, etc.
But if you’re a zero waste family, I really want to meet you because that’s amazing.
Our goal is to just be a one 40 gallon bag of trash per day family, and we miss that goal a lot.
In conclusion, there are a ton of great books to help foster ingenuity in kids.
In fact, Amazon has so many, you might lose part of your day searching through them all and then not buy anything from the overwhelm.
Speaking from experience here.
So if you’re looking for a great book to help foster creativity and ingenuity in your kids, use this list as a guide, so you don’t get completely overwhelmed.
Or brave the unlimited expanse of Amazon, and then come back and tell us about the awesome book you found to help your kids tap into their creativity!
What books have you found to help develop your ingenious children? Tell us in the comments!
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