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Why Not Knot For Fun?!

By Frank T. Hoffman and Kristin Svensson
The Hoffman Research Group

211 Shoal Creek Road
Englewood, Tennessee 37329

I'm always on the lookout for activities that encourage productivity and a constructive use of time. I've long thought that learning to tie knots was a great pursuit for a family with six sons. I bought a game that was supposed to teach knot skills and an illustrated dictionary of knots, but we didn't learn many knots and we definitely didn't know what to DO with the ones we did know how to tie. To the rescue comes Why Not Knot For Fun?!

This 64-page, 8-1/2" x 11" format, plastic spiral-bound, full-color book is a treasure trove for would-be knot enthusiasts! The book is filled with great photographs of siblings at play and is written by a homeschooling family who lives in the foothills of Tennessee. The Hoffman family set out to write a book that demonstrates the steps to tying knots in an understandable way and then gives you lots of ways to USE the knots. As homeschoolers, we know that you remember best what you use, right? Your children won't soon forget these knots because they'll be begging for more rope to use in completing the projects.

The book starts with a short history of knots and a description of the various types of knots. Then it moves into a detailed description of rope and tips for both rope care and knot tying.

The next section teaches you to tie 12 knots. The two-page spread for each knot includes very clear illustrations and photographs of each step as well as a description of the purpose of the knot and ideas for using it. These instructions far surpass any other knot-tying instructions I've seen. Details for basic knots, multiple types of hitches, and various lashings are included in this section. These incredibly clear directions and ideas for practical uses are worth the price of this book, but that's just the beginning.

Aptly entitled, "Where the Fun Begins," the following 17-page section of the book includes projects that made me, a self-confessed "indoor girl," want to run outside and play. First is a Wilderness Survival guide that teaches you how to make a trip-cord alarm system, a shelter, a travois to carry gear or an injured person, a cooking tripod, and a harness you can wear to carry your equipment. What child wouldn't be thrilled to practice his knots with these types of projects? But it gets better! Instructions for a shepherd's sling, a bola to catch cattle (or little brothers!), and a bow and arrow are next. These exciting projects are followed by my favorite section, "Swings-n-Things," which has instructions for three types of swings as well as a full adventure course (including flying trapeze, bridges, parallel bars, ladders and tree platforms). Really, I've never seen a knot book that so motivated me to run out and buy a bunch of rope. What a constructive way for my six boys to work and play together!

A short section of helpful resources and even more practical uses for knots finish up the book. The website is incredibly helpful as well. It is full of resources and a few additional project ideas as well as kits and ropes for sale. The book sells for $14.95 plus shipping and comes with seven feet of Action Cord, so you're ready to practice right away.

I'm so excited about this book that I'm planning on giving it as a gift to my children on our last day of school this year . . . that and the thousands of feet of rope we're going to need to build the most incredible adventure course ever!

Product review by Lisa Kjeldgaard, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, April 2009

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