I am a fan of kids using their brains all summer long – but not in an obvious do schoolwork kind of way. Instead I prefer less screen time and more use your imagination, read or do activities that are fun and learning at the same time.

How Cities Work Activity Book

Lonely Planet Kids offers some really fun activity books. I am itching to do some of the more creative parts in this book, but I don’t think my 11 year old will be pleased if I jumped ahead. Some of the activities are too young for him (the book is for six to eight year olds), but that’s OK. I am also a believer that sometimes you need easy and fun.

Each page, which is larger than a regular book, has one activity that involves city living. There is spotting specific things (this one on a double page spread), building a skyscraper, adding stickers to a community garden, designing your own graffiti and colouring a city scene. The paper is glossy so markers bleed into the page, making it so fun to colour. The activities vary so you could do a couple before bed for some quick fun or several while on a road trip. There are 200 stickers for various pages and activities.

Lonely Plant Kids How Cities Work illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock costs $12.99 (Raincoast Books).

Dino Dana Dino Field Guide

Dino Dana is a young girl who loves dinosaurs. She encourages fellow dinosaur lovers to keep digging, keep asking questions and keep discovering new dinosaurs.

She offers information about 36 of her favourite dinosaurs found throughout the world, breaking them down into family groups; the time they lived; a size chart in comparison to her and weight compared to animals that still exist; and where the creatures were found. At the end she offers an experiment, asking a questions such as how the Albertosaurs baby survived, offering background research notes, her plan, field notes and her findings.

The illustrations in the book are pretty neat. It almost looks like they are stickers stuck on the page. For the field notes, the illustrator uses real pictures of whatever Dino Dana is investigating and places dinosaurs within them. So you see an Amargasaurus hanging out with her grandma’s goats.

I am not a huge dinosaur fan. I find them quite fascinating, but I don’t live and breath dinsosaurs, now or in the past. However, I found this dbook really interesting. I liked that kids learn that scientists are often wrong (a T Rex’s arms, for example, are actually quite strong, and by asking questions, kids can make their own discoveries.

Dino Dana Dino Field Guide by J.J. Johnson retails for $26.95 from Mango Publishing and Raincoast Books.

S’mores Wars

I didn’t like S’mores Wars, The Campfire Card Game of Snack Attacks.

It felt it was really complicated for a game where you are required to make the best smores with the most points to win. We may need to play it again, but I found the first time we played it quite frustrating, and both my son and decided to end it early.

You also need three players, which we didn’t have so the kittens got involved. Considering their hand was based on luck, they seemed to win more than I did. And that is the thing. The game seems to be less about skill and more about which cards you have randomly drawn.

Or maybe I just don’t like to lose to a pair of kittens.

S’mores Wars retails for $29.85 is from Chronicle Books and Raincoast Books.

A copy of these books were provided by Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.