Creating Fantastic Creatures!

The best bit of any myth is the monster, right?! In the books we’ve been reading lately H has been especially interested in all the weird and wonderful monsters, so Fantastic Creatures by Kate McLelland seemed right up our street. Another British Museum/Nosy Crow collab, this book is entirely activity-based – making it a perfect choice for little hands that like to keep busy!

There are 24 thick cardboard pages inside, with a variety of different press-out shapes – no scissors needed (phew!) Each design is on a lovely shiny silver-foiled page, and each creature is detailed with shiny silver lines, making it pretty visually appealing. There’s no text on the pages themselves: brief instructions on the back cover explain how to use the book, and the inside covers have pictures of each creature accompanied by a short, simple description.

A very cute chimaera!

The creatures are all inspired by objects from the British Museum and are predominantly Greek/Roman, with a couple of Egyptian and Chinese options too. A little more variety might have been nice – especially given the global nature of the BM’s collections – but all the usual suspects are there. H was very happy to see our old friend the Minotaur return again, but it was Cerberus and the Hydra that really grabbed his attention this time!

Cerberus ready for some colour!

We started out with felt-tips and colouring pencils, but H got a bit frustrated at not being able to colour in the very intricate patterns. So I thought we’d dig out the watercolours and give them a go instead and they worked amazingly well! The paint doesn’t settle on the silver-foiled lines, so H was much happier splashing them with colours. They turned out looking pretty swish!

The best hydra I’ve ever seen

Once we switched to the paints, H was able to work pretty independently – happily pushing out the shapes himself, painting them, and figuring out how to then fit them together. He was especially interested in working out the models! For the EYFS age group the model building is a great way of practicing fine motor skills, and exploring different aspects of shape, space and measure. And it results in plenty more characters for open play, as the models can stand independently and are quite expressive! We haven’t tackled the bunting yet, but I’m quietly hoping H will let me have it for my office… (no chance!)

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