About three months after having a baby you hit the wall, and people spend a lot of time reassuring you it will get easier and that your child will need you less as they get older. The people who say this have apparently never spent a school holiday at home with a couple of tweens who are bored and feel it is your job to entertain them.

This was the position I was in last week, as spring break began and so to did the incessant cries of “I’m bored” and “I don’t know what to do.” When they were smaller, you could throw a bunch of craft supplies at them and let them “create.” All you needed to do was put on your poker face when your little one proudly held up their creation and explained to you that the random shapes, colours, and textures were, in fact, a fish, or a tree, or a sea monster.

Fortunately, for my sanity and my kids’ health, Dorling Kindersley sent me some of their “Maker March” books to check out.

“Out Of The Box” begins with a short section devoted to cardboard skills. The author, Jemma Westing, does a fantastic job of introducing the reader to different kinds of cardboard and the sorts of things you will need in your toolbox to craft these fabulous creations. There are tips on how to cut out shapes, make holes, score, fold, and make flaps as well as how to deal with mishaps. Then you move onto the projects themselves.

Each maker project begins with a photograph of how the finished product should look then a list and a photo of the materials you will need. There is also a handy tips and difficulty panel that has a dial to show you how hard the craft is and a few top suggestions about what you will need and some of the techniques you may be using.

As you progress through the book, the projects move from the easy, cardboard tube owls, through to dragon puppets and a racing rabbit game. Many of the basic crafts have suggestions for variations; for example, the dragon puppet could also be a frog or a bird.

The final third of the book leads you through the steps need to build a magnificent Cardville City complete with walkways, road bridges, a clock tower, and gardens. This is a particularly useful project for Spring Break as you could spread the fun over a number of days.

There is an incredible geometric dome den which could be a space base, a woodland hideout, an igloo, or any other structure that springs to mind. This spectacular craft requires you to make 50 cardboard tiles of various shapes and is also just made for teaching about structural engineering, math, and design.

What Did We Think About “Out Of The Box”?

Honestly, the kids did not initially react with a lot of enthusiasm. Now the youngest two both have their feet planted firmly in tween territory they consider many crafting books to be full of ideas for “little kids.” Knowing this, I skipped over the first few, easier crafts and dove straight into the more challenging puppets.

This piqued their interest, and in no time they were trying out their newfound cardboard wrangling skills on a Cardville City of their own. This kind of directed project that also allows for a great deal of creativity and free expression was perfect for the littles in our house.

Kiddie Quote “I thought this would be full of things for little kids but it is not, and now I want to build the moon base.”

So get out and grab your copy of “Out of the Box” and enjoy hours of creativity both indoors and out. It is available both onloine and in all good bookshops for $24.99 CAD