Creative kits for kids; Kits for Kids, by Nancy Towner Butterworth and Laura Peabody Broad. New York: St. Martin's Press $7.95.

When I was growing up, some of my favorite activities were spur-of-the-moment projects thought up by my wonderfully inventive mother. With help from Captain Kangaroo, she usually managed to keep one jump ahead in coming up with things for her son to do -- even when it rained for a week.

Now two other mothers, both elementary-school teachers and coauthors of "The Playgroup Handbook" of activities for preschoolers, have written a reference book of project ideas for youngsters age 3 and up.

Some "kits" are creative projects, such as making napkin holders, magnet art, or thumb and fingerprint doodle drawings. Others are simply adventuresome fun such as writing invisible ink messages for would-be "secret agents." Most call for little more than common household items.

There are projects for all sorts of situations -- at home, in groups, for special occasions, and for confined situations. Directions are simple and suggested age levels are given.

Some people may shudder at the thought of creative activities done "by the book.' But for those who may not think of a can, a yardstick, and wire as a potential musical instrument, or who may not see a large cardboard box and white plastic flowerpot as the basic ingredients of a robot costume, it's a great support.

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