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Hi,

I was wondering if others in the community would be willing to share their favorite books and/or products that were useful in either a) helping their children reconnect with nature or b) have enabled others that you know to reconnect with nature.

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One of the most simple gifts to help a child explore the outdoors is to give them a magnifying glass. They can spend hours in their own backyards looking deep into the wonders of the natural world. And, if this activity is shared with an adult who can help in the learning process, this activity could help create that special bond to nature that today's children need to experience.
Absolutely! That's a great one, Ernie.
I agree about magnifying glasses. You can buy fresnel lenses which are A4 plastic sheets that provide a larger magnifying experience.

I like a light coloured piece of material that can be used for displaying natural objects and playing games.

String or twine is great for making things and masking tape can be jolly useful too.

My favourite story books inc
"Everybody Needs a Rock" by Byrd Baylor
"Stick Man" by Julia Donaldson
"The Story of the Mole who Knew it was None of his Business" by Werner Holzwarth
"The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats
"Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails" by Michael Kusugak

In terms of activity books I like
"Camp out - the Ultimate Kids' Guide" by Lynn Brunelle

I'd love to know what other folk think.
We used magnifying glasses yesterday to look at snowflakes on black felt...magic!
I have to say my favorite books for inspiring kids to get outdoors are nature journals with blank pages. My 4-year-old writes in hers often after fun outside adventures (one or two simple sentences spelled as only a preschooler can) and adds little drawings. Last night she asked for a large pencil that she could bring outside, so her book could become a "mitten journal" until spring comes.

Great suggestions! I wholeheartedly agree about simple items like a magnifying glass that have the ability to completely transform a child's experience of nature. I agree, too, about the blank book as a tool for observation (and love the one you posted, Carmen!) My family used to take short walks called "Poetry walks" during which we might stop and write down simple observations, words and phrases, whatever came to mind. Perhaps they'd form a poem later, maybe not, but the idea was that a space was created in which to honor slowing down and observing nature's beauty and whatever came up internally. A camera or binoculars can serve a similar purpose. Likewise a compass or a simple treasure hunt for kids who might like orienteering, using nature's guideposts; or a piece of masking tape around a wrist, with which one can make a bracelet of found leaves and other items.

As for books, USA Today just created a list of "green" ones. It's here: http://bit.ly/6zT6Uh. Most of the books they mention are more focused on conservation than on tools to enjoy nature, but one important new book the article mentions is "Green Hour" by Todd Christopher, creator of the National Wildlife Federation's Green Hour web site. A helpful book for me has been Joseph Cornell's "Sharing Nature with Children". It's full of ideas for simple, often playful, activities that can really increase a child's sense of wonder about the natural world. Cornell strikes a lovely tone and the book is quite rich with activities for different age and attention levels, as well as concrete instructions, fun facts and inspirational stories.
Hi Mike,
Great suggestions -- especially magnifiers. I'd suggest a few other real basics for the kind of nature play that most often connects young kids to nature: a shovel, a bucket, a bug box or cage, a butterfly net, a dip net, a small tent and other backyard camping gear, a flashlight, a rudimentary digital camera, a simple fishing pole, and bird feeders. Also, we should never forget the quiet, contemplative side of the nature connection, so include something like a hammock, hammock chair, or kid-sized Adirondack chair -- and ideally place it in a peaceful and secluded niche where kids can lose themselves in dreams and delight.
All excellent ideas, Ken. I could not agree more.
Magnifying glasses! What a great idea. Anyone know where to get a large number of those for just a little bit of money?

Books: Let's Go Outside - Jennifer Ward and Mo Willems - Are You Ready to Go Outside?
Hi Chip,
Good to see your name! I was thinking of you and how you created fairy castles with your children (your post from a few months ago) - since I'm doing a couple of events with children at my local library this week. Hope you're doing well! I also need ideas for my next book - any suggestions? Thanks! Judy Molland (Author - Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future)

Chip Donahue said:
Magnifying glasses! What a great idea. Anyone know where to get a large number of those for just a little bit of money?

Books: Let's Go Outside - Jennifer Ward and Mo Willems - Are You Ready to Go Outside?
What an awesome thread! Thanks everybody for the ideas and food for thought!
Hi Chip,

We order medium-sized magnifying glasses for our Kids in Nature kits from Carolina Biological Supply Company - they run $1.95 each [Magnifier (dual, handheld) > Carolina Biological Supply Item # DH-602276, page 670 in their 2010 catalog or online at http://www.carolina.com/product/equipment+and+supplies/microscopes+.... There are smaller, lesser expensive options, too, that you'll see in their online catalog.

Cheers,

Carmen

Chip Donahue said:
Magnifying glasses! What a great idea. Anyone know where to get a large number of those for just a little bit of money?

Books: Let's Go Outside - Jennifer Ward and Mo Willems - Are You Ready to Go Outside?

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