Friday, March 18, 2011

Kids’ Nature Book

(This was a guest post for Andrea’s homeschooling blog (last year))

Book Review for The Kids' Nature Book – 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities and Experiences (Revised Edition) by Susan Milord

One early spring day, I was very excited because enough snow was gone and the air was just warm enough that the kids and I could go outside and play for a significant amount of time without frozen feet, hands, and noses. When we came back inside I was inspired to buy a book to keep us outdoors doing interesting things in nature all year. I read reviews for a few different books and ended up with The Kids' Nature Book. I bought a used copy of it through abebooks.com.

I think it is WONDERFUL. I very heartily recommend it. It says for children ages 4 – 10, and my children aged 1-7 have all participated in the activities in it to varying degrees. The book offers ideas of outings, things to observe outdoors, craft projects, simple experiments, games, and suggestions for stories and poems to read. I really can't begin to tell you all of the topics it explores – weather, habitats, flowers, animals, clouds, recycling, beaches, astronomy, insects, plants, adaptations, art supplies from nature, the ocean, pets, Indians, etc.

I really like how it is set up. It has an activity for every day of the year (tied to the seasonal happenings), and each week has a unifying theme like watching birds in flight or exploring in and around water. So I really like that you can pick up the book anytime and go to that day and have a topic offered. That being said, I don't usually follow the suggestions day by day, like a calendar. Usually when we get the urge to do something from the book, we do several of the activities on one day. Of course, you can do things more selectively-- skip around and find topics on whatever suits your fancy.
It has a ton of great ideas, and lots of great information. My son Jethro likes to pick it up and just read it (but then, he always has liked reading non-fiction type books. Weirdo.). Now I've TOLD you it's fun, let me SHOW you.

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Look closely- you can see the back legs!

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We did some activities about rainbows, like creating a rainbow by filling a glass full of water and placing it on a sunny windowsill.

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Then we bought some colored paper and made a wreath using “Japanese folding techniques.”

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Jethro found an experiment that he thought sounded cool, so he started setting it up (without asking for permission or help) and when Brett saw him getting stuff out and asked him what he was doing, he read about the experiment, also thought it was cool, and helped him finish setting it up. They created stalactites and stalagmites by filling small jars with water and baking soda and tying a weight to each end of a string and placing the ends in the jar. These are not the greatest pictures, but I think you can see that we did grow some stalactites.

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One day without really intending to do an activity from the book, I happened to see a fiddlehead of a fern – something I had seen and read about in the book, so I took a picture of it. The same day, Jethro came home and showed me a fiddlehead he had picked. He told me, “The book says they're eatable, so should we eat it?”

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I can't remember if the book suggested a nature notebook or not, but I decided to give the kids a notebook, and Jethro has done some recording in it. Hazel mainly draws pictures and says whether it's a sunny day or rainy day. (I love his picture of eggs, tadpole, developing tadpole, and frog at the bottom.)

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We picked some flowers and dried them. Jethro really wanted Brett to build a plant press, which he probably would have if he had any tools or materials, but instead we just used a book.

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So, five stars and all that. Go get it if you're interested in helping your kids- and yourself- learn about and enjoy nature.

5 comments:

Amy said...

I think your kids are destined to be geniuses :). Thanks for the fun recommendation and review! My kids would enjoy something like this. I'd have to bring it down a bit to their age levels, but still super fun!

Andrea said...

You're a weirdo. I just didn't want the other comment to go to your head.

Kami said...

Thanks Kayli! I forgot that it had been posted on a different blog.

Rachael said...

Bought it! I always think whenever I read your blog, "Gosh, I wish I was better at doing nature things like Kayli." So you're promising that this will make me awesome like you, right?

The Unsies said...

Loverly! My children would love this book-- we need to get outside! Thank you!

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