Two how-to educational books and a third that's just-for-fun in the children's department have crossed my desk in recent months. One is by a Utah author. All are designed for teachers or parents who want to be involved in their children's education.

"Nursery Crafts," by Jarie Lee Waterfall, Ogden, offers scores of arts and crafts projects for young children. The book is designed for teachers, instructors and parents. Each project has step-by-step instructions and patterns, and each has been tested in an early childhood setting.The book provides activities designed to foster growth in fine motor skills, social and emotional development, cognition and language development. They provide a variety of textures, colors, media, gluing, cutting, identifying and assembly and promote creativity.

Included are ideas for holidays and seasons, finger plays, kiddie dramas and a wide variety of art projects and self-help items, such as dress-myself aids for small children.

Waterfall has worked with young children for more than 17 years in day care and kindergarten.

"Nursery Crafts," a publication of Humanics Limited, Atlanta, Ga., sells for $17.95.

"Montessori at Home" is another aid for parents, teachers or others who are interested in applying the highly acclaimed Montessori methods of helping preschool children learn.

Heidi Ann Spietz bases her work on exhaustive research of the Montessori method. It includes the background of the method, introduced by Maria Montessori, the educator, writer and lecturer who devised a new way of teaching children based on physiological readiness as well as psychological and intellectual preparation.

The method designs an environment suited to children and encourages them to explore on their own and to learn through repeating exercises. The same principles can be applied at home, Spietz says. The book outlines step-by-step processes to present a variety of concepts to a child.

These include learning colors, recognizing geometrical shapes and preparing for reading, writing and mathematics. The book also contains lists of additional reading sources and stores that sell educational toys.

The book is published by American Montessori Consultants, P.O. Box 5062, Rossmoor, CA 90721. It is available directly from the publisher for $9.95.

"Sing a Song of Popcorn" is a delightful collection of children's poetry published by Scholastic Inc., New York.

The collection is divided into nine sections, each illustrated by an outstanding Caldecott Medal artist. Themes include everything from nature to nonsense, and many of the authors are well-recognized and loved. They include Ogden Nash, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Dickinson and such contemporaries as Shel Silverstein.

Even the Bible is represented with the poetical "For, lo the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing bird is come."

Samples of the compact and beautiful works of the Chinese also are there, including Lin Po's "Firefly":

I think

If you flew

Up to the sky

Beside the moon,

You would

Twinkle like a star.

Story poems are the other extreme, longer works such as Edward Lear's "The Jumblies," about little folk with green heads and blue hands "who went to sea in a sieve."

In all, it's a book to treasure by a company that specializes in educational literature. The collection of children's verse especially for teachers was first undertaken 20 years ago. It was finished in 1988 and is available through Scholastic Inc., 730 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.