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Outside Activity Books

How to Build Treehouses, Huts, & Forts, David Stiles (The Lyons Press, 2003), pb. 96 pp.Backyard Ballistics: Build cannons, paper match rockets, Cincinnati fire kites, tennis ball mortars, and more dynamite devices, William Gurstelle (Chicago Review Press, 2001), pb., 169 pp.

The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman onagers, English trebuchets, and more ancient artillery, William Gurstelle (Chicago Review Press, 2004), pb., 171 pp.

My oldest son bought these three books with some of his birthday money a couple of years ago- much to my delight! We have actually spent more time reading and looking at these books than building anything in them; but, we are finally in the midst of building a treehouse using the Stiles book. We have had a lot of fun looking through the book deciding which design would work best for us and roaming the yard looking for the best site for the treehouse. The plans given in this book are well done and easy to follow. They are even written to the boy rather than to the parent (a good touch). We are having a good time working on the project even though it is taking a while to get it done due largely to my needing to learn on the go- which is another benefit to me.

Another project we hope to take on this summer is to build a tennis ball mortar. We have been planning this since Christmas playing with an idea from a friend as well as the plans given in Backyard Ballistics. We may also attempt a sort of mini-catapult for water balloons! The Gurstelle books are great for explaining the science behind things as well as giving historical accounts where these contraptions were used.

These have been a lot of fun for us and we commend them to you.

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