Author: Jennifer Ward
With Spring right around the corner, I knew I needed some ideas for how to have fun in the outdoors. We live in a big city, and while there are places to go hiking and exploring around the area, we just don’t make it out there often. What we do love is going on nature walks around our neighborhood. As we walk we talk about the different trees, flowers, and animals we see. To make it more fun we make nature bracelets. We wrap a piece of masking tape loosely around our wrists and stick things to it as we walk such as flower petals, small rocks, and once even a pine cone. I had read 15 Minutes Outside by Rebecca Cohen last summer and while I enjoyed the activities, I was looking for something different for this year.
This book is just what I needed to help incorporate the outside world into our day. The book itself looks like a smallish notebook with rounded edges, the perfect size for a purse or diaper bag so you can always reference it at a moment’s notice. It is broken up into the four seasons, each with lots of great ideas. It is easy to read, easy to skim through to find the activities you like, and perfect for families with children of all ages.
Parts I liked best:
– I loved the way each activity is written. If you want to plan ahead you can read the full activity. If you are out at the park and want to incorporate an idea you can simply look at the small green boxes which are “plant the seed” ideas. For example, during winter she recommends idea number 45: Snow Stories. In the section, she suggest ideas such as following animal tracks in the snow, making a mini snowman in the park, and listening to the night sounds of winter. If you want to do a quick, more simple activity the “plant the seed” box says, “The next time it snows, go on a quiet, meditative walk with your child, making your own tracks.” You can use the smaller more specific activity and gear it to your own family. (128-129)
– The author really understands children and especially their attention spans. None of the ideas are lengthy or complicated. They can be expanded or shortened. She recommends using the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) and says, “So no worries if you start an activity with your little one and within sixty seconds he’s off making his own adventure. Simply follow his lead, and enjoy the journey.” (Introduction, xiv)
– I loved the introduction and her philosophy on nature and children. She talks about how children are naturally curious right from the beginning. When she describes things like watching an ant on the sidewalk or running your hands through sand she says to an adult these can seem like simple activities. However, to a child they “provide an opportunity for inquiry, where the mind can focus and practice being curious…and are the stepping-stones children use…to help them learn, develop, and grow.” (introduction xi)
How this book made an impact in my life, especially as a mother:
This book has helped me open my mind to how children experience the world around them. Having grown up in a big city, I sometimes have a hard time finding ways to really enjoy the outdoors. I want to teach my children about the beautiful world around them but also have fun at the same time. This book will help me achieve both of those goals. We have already tried out a couple of ideas and we had a wonderful time watching seeds from dandelions fly in the air, exploring the colors of nature, and doing a little nature scavenger hunt. I was not focused on doing things exactly the right way or spending any certain amount of time on this thing or that. I was focusing on using these ideas to create moments and memories with my children, and it was wonderful.
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