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"Pumpkins and Petunias: Things for Children to Do in Gardens"

Our book recently published book offers environmental education activities in gardens for children ages 2-8 years. You can check some of the content at


and Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and GoogleBooks. Here is a press release:

San Francisco, Calif. – (January 2014) –Children from ages 2 to 8 are curious and need outdoor activities to satisfy their energetic nature. That is why “Pumpkins and Petunias,” by authors Esther Railton-Rice and Irene Winston, is of value to educators everywhere. It is a book that shows the advantages of school gardens, not just for activities for learning science.

This interesting book describes activities that are both fun and instructive. This book includes 48 carefully selected activities that are presented in outline form for easy selection and following. Each lesson includes the objectives, a brief word to the teacher, materials, directions for doing the activity, relation to the subject standards, and suggestions for related activities. The things to do use the STEM strategies of inquiry, questioning, creating, constructing, etc.  The book is based on lesson plans from outstanding teachers in Professor Railton-Rice's environmental science classes and her own experiences.

The book explains how to select and adapt activities to be suitable for various gardens and for different ages. The introductory chapter on the importance of using gardens for instruction is followed by guidelines for using the activities  The activities are to be conducted outdoors and use the garden for content and materials. In the Appendixes, charts match the things to do to the National Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards and the curriculum standards of The National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is an informative book that utilizes the many advantages of teaching in  gardens.

For more information on this book, interested parties may log on to www.Xlibris.com
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About the Author
Esther Railton-Rice is Professor of Education Emerita at California State University, East Bay. She is an internationally known professor of environmental education, with experience in the primary classroom, environmental education, national parks and playgrounds. Her many previous publications include Teaching Science in an Outdoor Environment and articles and chapters in anthologies.
Irene Winston is a science teacher with a master’s degree in botany and education. She is a docent at a public native plant garden.
She wrote an activity guide for that California native plants garden plus several other articles on plant adaptations and lichens. Winston’s interactive children’s exhibit on lichens for the annual California Lichen Society’s display at the San Francisco Mycological Society’s Fungus Fair is so popular that it is repeated annually as well as presented at the University of California, Berkeley’s Jepson Herbarium. In January 2014, she received the Ramalina menziesii Award for promoting the appreciation, conservation, and study of California lichens.

Pumpkins and Petunias * by Esther Railton-Rice and Irene Winston
Publication Date:   
Trade Paperback; $15.95; 139 pages; 978-1-4836-8851-0
Trade Hardback; $22.05; 139 pages; 978-1-4836-8852-7
eBook; $3.95; 978-1-4836-8853-4

To request a complimentary paperback review copy, contact the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x. 7879.  To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (812) 355-4079 or call (888) 795-4274 x. 7879.

For more information, contact Xlibris at (888) 795-4274 or on the web at www.Xlibris.com.

Irene Winston and Esther Railton-Rice

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Comment by irene winston on July 4, 2014 at 3:52pm

Comments Made by Users and Reviewers of Pumpkins and Petunias; Things for Children to Do in Gardens


What I like about it is that the lessons aren't "cookie cutter recipe"

activities where you do A and B and then get C, but they are more about

expanding kids' awareness of what is in the garden - the diversity of life,

where animals may live, what kinds of organisms live on tree bark and rocks,

exploring weather, etc.  The questions for the kids are open ended, and

inspire close observation and contemplation, not just memorizing a list of

facts.  I also like that most of the lessons have suggested related

activities in language arts, art, math, etc.  There are a lot of lessons in

a variety of topics, and the book is reasonably priced (especially the

Kindle format).  It is for younger children (preschool and primary).



It would work both for those who like following a planned curriculum which

is aligned with standards, and also to give great ideas that can be

incorporated in more informal garden exploration by those of a more

"unschooly" persuasion. Kim (Amazon)


I am so looking forward to using it with my ... granddaughter who is just now discovering the outdoors. Your many activities and "how to" let children make their own explorations is a true gift."

----Susie (Amazon)


A great book for teachers and grandparents too

-----Anon (Amazon)


This book is for all adults who want children to love the outdoors as much as they love it themselves. The book helps them tweak children's natural curiosity
and then guide the children in discovering answers to their own questions. As an educator I admire the book's approach to the learning process. As a grandmother of small children I just plain love the book!

----Pearl (Barnes and Noble)


If you have searched for a well-written book to guide children in an exploration of their outdoor surroundings, it is my pleasure to introduce Pumpkins and Petunias to you. As a science teacher / educator with three decades of teaching experience, I have become an advocate for the kind of early childhood education that Pumpkins and Petunias promotes—authentic, inquiry-based, active learning that encourages educators to utilize multidimensional learning strategies that engage with a child’s natural curiosity to observe, explore, play, and create in his natural surroundings.

----David (Foreward)

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