I don't care if you are a kid, teen or adult - it feels great to be able to do some impressive tricks for your family and friends at the next backyard barbecue, like blowing a bubble within a bubble or slicing an unpeeled banana. If you want to move beyond mere parlor tricks, you can learn how to identify clouds, ride a boogie board or fold fortune cookies thanks to the super-easy directions in Show Off: How to Do Absolutely Everything One Step at a Time by Sarah Hines Stephens and Bethany Mann.
What makes "Show Off" a fantastic book are the step-by-step picture directions. Since I am a graphic learner, this makes it so much easier for me than trying to decipher a page of text describing how to fold a ninja star. The ingredient lists tend to be very slight, which is a bonus for parents. If you want to learn more about an activity, several of them have longer descriptions in the back under "tell me more." The 224 activities are grouped under the categories of "amaze," "investigate," "create," "explore," "cook," and "move." Most of these are easy to do by yourself if you're at least 10 years old, while others will require adult help.
Right now my nine-year-old daughter is doing "turn the world upside down," where you make a simple device out of a cup, waxed paper, and rubber band that makes everything appear upside down when you look into it. She also wants to tie-dye a swirly shirt, make a daisy chain, and cover her mp3 player. Today. My 11-year-old son just carries the book around with him, absorbing all of the cool activities in a cerebral way.
Watch a video of what happens when you try some of these without a copy of the book here, and preview the first few pages through Google's book preview here.
If you like this book, you should check out The Daring Book for Girls and The Dangerous Book for Boys.