Seven steps to creation

30th January 1998 at 00:00

John Williams. HOUSES AND HOMES. John Williams. SIMPLE MACHINES. By Fran Whittle and Sarah Lawrence.

TOYS AND GAMES. John Williams. THINGS TO WEAR. Margot Richardson. Wayland Pounds 9.50 each.

Each of these bright zappy books offers seven to 11-year-old children a dozen exciting things to make. Instructions come in no more than seven concise easy-to-read steps, clearly illustrated with sharp photographs. The only problem many children will have will be deciding what to make first. The darting frog from Toys and Games, the light-up badge from Things to Wear, or the Mouse-a-pult from Simple Machines?

Constructions require no more than will be found in any reasonably stocked design and technology cupboard: card-board, plastic and tinfoil containers; more specialised junk such as cotton reels and old film canisters; PVA glue, elastic bands, paper clips; and simple tools such as a hand drill, junior hacksaw and craft knife.

Although children could make most of the things unaided, some will require adult assistance or supervision, particularly when potentially dangerous tools such as craft knives or saws are involved.

Each construction is either a model of something in real life or otherwise the author explicitly relates the object's technological and design principles to real life. Jack-in-the-box, for example, which works by squeezing air from a polythene container through a tube, is related to the pneumatic drill. For many of the constructions, there are suggestions for extending the design principles on which it works.

Paul Harrison is a former primary school headteacher and a freelance writer and lecturer on primaryeducation

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