Geek Dad Offers Creative Solutions for Entertaining Kids

I was recently sent a review copy of the book Geek Dad by Ken Denmead, editor of the blog of the same name on Wired magazine’s website.

At first I wasn’t sure what to expect — would these be projects that only computer hackers and programmers could hope to pull off?

But the truth is, despite the name, this book isn’t just for dads, and it isn’t even just for geeks.

If you’ve ever been frustrated with the lack of creativity-inspiring toys and games out there, or want to satisfy your tech-savvy kids with something other than video games, this book will help out.

For example, you can make coloring book pages or connect-the-dots puzzles for your little ones using any photo, and a program like PhotoShop or the free GIMP. Believe it or not, it’s not as hard as it sounds.

How about making your own customizable “Ultimate Board Game” that’s just as much fun as techy toys? I wish Denmead had suggested using poster board or large cardboard instead of paper, because if you’re going to put the work into building something it might as well last for years… but that’s okay. That’s another customization you could make to it…

If your kids are glued to their favorite video games, Denmead suggests “Video Games that Come to Life”… basically making an outdoor, live-action game based on their favorite electronic version. I like the idea of recreating sports-based video games outside, rather than violent war games, but Denmead offers suggestions for both, as well as obstacle courses.

And of course, there are lots of projects that do require some kind of electronic know-how, or at least the ability to follow simple wiring directions, like “Fireflies for Every Season,” and “Fly a Kite at Night.”

But every project has a chart rating its cost, difficulty, duration and reusability, so you can choose the ones that match your needs, skills and desires, and then move up from there (or have your kids do the bulk of the work if they’re old enough).

The book’s title makes it a tough gift for moms, non-geek types, or those who remember when “geek” was a full-blown insult. But I’m not afraid to say that I’ll be tapping into it for fun projects, and probably for years to come.

Keep Unwrapping the Mysteries of Life!