My aunt is always bringing us her finds from yard sales, thrift stores, and other deals. She knows that we homeschool and are always looking for fun activities, puzzles, games, and books to enjoy (doesn’t every family, anyway?). So recently she bought us a copy of The Big Book of Family Fun by Claudia Arp and Linda Dillow. The book hails itself as a boredom buster, holiday helper, and much more, with ideas for both sunny and rainy days as well as sick ones, recipes, travel activities, and more. Though it looks a bit dated, being published in 1994, it remains true to its name, offering dozens of ideas for all of these activities and more.
Though we’ve done quite a few of the activities in the book—such as the oatmeal drum and the milk carton bird feeder—many other ideas are new to us. They have a pretty classic feel to them, without much of a technological aspect (of course!), which I find refreshing.
The book can also be problematic, however. Some of the ideas are religiously-oriented (such as morning devotional time), but you could always adapt these to something else, like meditation. (To teach meditation in my house, I have been using Starbright: Meditations for Children.) It’s also written from and for the perspective of a traditional WASP heterosexual family (even the cover boasts one), so that’s as annoying as it is in any other book that claims it is for general families. One of the most annoying aspects for me as an unschooler and Life Learner is that it promotes bribing children, such as paying them 75 cents for books read and words memorized. Yeah, that’s not learning, and it’s not okay in my book.
Still, if you can get past these things, there are lots of cool ideas to use in the book, such as…
- How to make finger paints out of soap flakes
- Several ways to make play-dough, including out of kool-aid
- How to obtain an ecology kit from the Environmental Protection Agency (I honestly don’t know if this still works; I plan on writing to see if it does)
- Making various crafts from recycled materials from egg cartons, eggshells, toilet paper rolls, and more
Yes, we do have the internet now, and we can easily look up crafts and activities with the click of a mouse—but having them all in a collection like this is also helpful and useful.