In my search for good nature-based literature for my 6 and 8 year old boys, I recently rediscovered a fantastic resource we have right here with C&NN. Where Nature Meets Story has reignited my passion for the written word and given me great ideas to use with my own boys as well as with our family nature club!
Did you read stories about animals when you were young? Did you get swept up in adventure tales about pioneer families or seafaring pirates or mountain climbers? Stories about animals, plants, and wild places can be a big part of helping kids connect to nature. Where Nature Meets Story not only serves as a guide to some fantastic literature - both realistic and imaginative - but also gives lots of creative, open-ended and FUN activities to do with kids.
Here are a few of my favorites from the list (click the title for a link to the topic):
I can't wait to make a "mini tree house" with my boys... in a small tree we love in our backyard. That is just one of many ideas the author shares for building different types of forts and hideouts!
OF FAIRIES, GNOMES, AND HOBBITS: IMAGINED WORLDS IN NATURE
Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle is only one of many books listed that inspire children's creativity and love of the imaginary world. It's great to know that there are books in this genre for older kids too!
Like the other topics in this list, "Where the Sidewalk Is" includes a bunch of great nature activities (these for city-dwelling folk) and a "Recommended Reading" list of books that help even "city kids" connect to the natural world around them!
Those are only three of eleven intriguing topics to explore with your own kids or with your family nature club! I am elated to have rediscovered this resource of ideas and books that will surely inspire hours of fun for my family - both creating and discovering outdoors as well as hours of reading fun.
What are some of your favorite activities and/or books? How might you use this resource? What ideas and resources could you add?
Just this afternoon my girls and I went down to a local small stream to catch fish for our native fish tank. We have a small turtle, 2 crayfish and several species of different fish. Granted this is a 75 gallon tank so we can afford to have the extra fish in there. Through my job as a researcher I was able to catch a juvenile longnose gar and brought it home to put into the tank. I mainly wanted to show my family the truely diverse forms of fish that we have in Mississippi but since gar are predatory fish my girls began to ask questions about why he was eating the other fish. This lead to a lesson in predator/prey interactions, camouflage, predator avoidance, and the different techniques that predators use to try to capture their prey. Catherine and Cassandra love each fish that we put into the tank but they also understand that animals killing and eating other animals are a part of life and that the same thing would happen if the fish were in our tank or if they were in the stream and lakes that we get them from.
I recently went to a book sale in the library of the university that I work at. I found 4 childrens books that all deal with nature in some way. The first book "Visits Here And There" is an old book published in 1935 is a collection of short stories and poems. The first collection of stories is titled "Through The Forest" and the very first story in the book is titled "Dick and Peggy Go Camping".
The other books are titled "The Haymeadow", "Lars and The Luckstone" and "Further Adventures of Uncle Remus: The Misadventures of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, The Doodang, and Other Creatures. I'm interested in reading these myself but so far my 8 year old has not began to read any of these yet but I'm sure she will. Unfortunately my 14 year old is all caught up in the "Twilight" series right now lol.....but atleast she's reading daily!
Cat Tails and Spooky Trails is a midgrade novel (ages 6+) that is set on the coast of South Carolina. The characters spend most of their time outside exploring the forest and marsh. In the second book, Waggin Tails and Moonlit Trails, the characters spend time on the beach, in the ocean and camp out in a tent. In both books, the author connects children with nature and includes observing nature but in a great, playful way. I only see the kindle edition on Amazon, but the print version is available on the author's website. The main character gets muddy, wades into the marsh and climbs a tree among other adventures.
Have you ever considered making a nature book yourself with your children? Check out my video blog at www.naturebec.org it talks about a great way to create your own nature stories that your children will want to read over and over again!