My sister-in-law had a copy of The Siblings' Busy Book and I really liked it,so I bought my own. Basically, it is 200 activities that children can do, with sections in each activity focusing on what you can do with a baby, toddler, pre-schooler and school age child. It's an American book so some of the activities are quite US-focused, for example making paper hats for Columbus Day, but the only one that you really couldn't do in the UK (unless you lived in Dartmoor) is letterboxing, as this doesn't seem to take place here (I may be wrong).
You might say, as some have, "surely you can just think of things to do with your kids anyway", and it is true that, especially in the "let's pretend" section, many of the games are things you might play anyway - shops, doctors, and so on. But even here, it is helpful to have new ideas to prolong a game, or make it relevant to different ages, or just save your sanity from having to go through exactly the same motions for the nth time. While we play shops all the time, for example, I wouldn't have thought of playing "libraries", which has become a great game to play when I am feeding HackneyBaby ("HackneyBaby would like a book about squirrels. Do you have one you can recommend? What happens in this book? Is it short or long?").
It's also useful for when your brain is entirely blank at the end of the day. Other sections include music and movement, outdoor adventures, learning and exploring, in the kitchen and rainy day fun. As well as libraries, we have played "mail for you and me" (again, I would have thought of playing post but this gave added ideas like making postcards and using stickers for stamps), Diddle Diddle Doo, and apple printing. The next thing I want to do is make ice bricks and build with them, and do bark rubbing.
A lot of the activities are really for babies over six months ("your young baby will like to watch his siblings during this activity" it says quite often which is not true for HB for any reasonable period of time) so I'm hoping that the book will really come into its own over the next few months.
Funnily enough, HackneyChild keeps wanting me to read him the book itself, rather than do any of the activities. "What is this game called? How do you play it?" he keeps saying. Me: "Would you like to play it?" "No."
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