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Another Summer school holiday day dawns with dark clouds aplenty, and we have been continuing to work our way through the Klutz Chicken Socks catalogue, in between making fairy cakes and getting outside for the rare moments when the rain stops.
"Chicken Socks" are books with art activities for younger children, they consist of a hardback ring-bound book and this particular one comes with a zippable bag containing a gluestick and about 200 foam shapes which are of paper thickness and designed to be stuck down on to paper.
Unlike the other sets we have tried this one does actually need you to use some extra paper in addition to the materials provided, the idea being that you stick foam shapes to make various animals, vehicles and faces. There are 20 pages in all with different ideas. The pages are wipeable and each one shows different scenes, the book does encourage you to "make anything". The shapes come in lots of different bright colours, from primary to the different skin tones and are varied in size and shape.
I found that in practice the value of this book has been mixed - the 5 year old understood straight away that the pictures were to give her ideas and she was able to make a ladybird and other bugs inspired by the page in the book. The three year old was happiest copying pictures from the book, the first time she used the book she made an impressive fire engine complete with ladders and sirens, which she assembled and stuck herself following the book. The problem then came that when she next used the book she got annoyed as she was missing pieces to continue to copy the examples. This probably reflects her younger age as much as the restrictions of the book, and the age guideline on the front does say 4 and up, which is probably about right.
As an exercise in creative activity this set did work for my 5 year old, but was perhaps less original and enjoyable than some of the others we have tried, with the scissors and tape books being the most favourite so far.
Foam pieces for this sort of activity can be bought anywhere, so you could do this kind of activity without this book. I have to say though that the actual shapes provided were particularly nice ones, with little feet and squiggles and big round circles for impressive monster faces. It would have been good to have a few more pieces to use, more are available in a 600 piece set from www.klutz.com but I worked out that they would cost about £6.50 with shipping, so quite pricey.
Overall we have enjoyed using this book, and will definitely keep it to flick through for more ideas, and still have some foam shapes to use after several uses of it. We like the alien page and the eldest is determined to make a under the sea scene inspired by the one in the book. It would make a good present for a 4 year old or above, at £4.99 from Amazon it is not bad value, though I would be loathe to pay the RRP of £6.99. Recommended but there are better sets in this range.
Details from Amazon:
Spiral-bound: 20 pages
Publisher: Klutz Chicken Socks; Spi edition (19 Sep 2005)
Product Dimensions: 18.6 x 18.4 x 3.6 cm
This may look like a 7.5-inch-square book, but don't be fooled byappearances. Inside, it's a million miles wide (roughly the size of a young imagination). It comes with a bunch of foam shapes and a glue stick - all the tools you need to build anything you want. Each page is filled with inspirational artwork that can be copied exactly or cheerfully ignored. Either way, the book works brilliantly - a fenceless playground for boundless in=maginations.