I’m so happy to be part of The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book blog tour! Thank you very much to authors Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer for including me at the last minute. I have to mention that my mother had already bought the book for the Snow Goose Chase’s Young Naturalists’ Corner, and I had decided to review it here, before I got in touch with Stacy and Ken (although Ken is sending along some bookmarks for us to give away!). I’m excited to be part of the blog tour with Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman (April 5th), James at 10,000 Birds (James, April 9th), Birdfreak (April 17th), and Birdchick (Sharon, on April 23rd).
In connection with my work setting up the Young Naturalists’ Corner at the Tofield, Alberta, Snow Goose Chase on Saturday, April 27th, I’ve been looking for great kids’ nature books to display on the table, for kids and their parents to learn about (so they can add them to their reading lists) and also to give away at the end of the day as part of a draw.
When my mother decided to buy some kids’ nature books to donate, she asked me for some ideas. I had just read about The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up on the ABA Young Birders Facebook page, so I mentioned it to my mother. She was excited to see that it’s brand new (published on April 2nd by Falcon Guides, part of Globe Pequot), and looked great from what we could see with Amazon.com’s “Look Inside the Book” feature.
Especially if your family isn’t like mine, living on a farm where we get to be (have to be!) outdoors year-round in all kinds of weather, this is a great book to help you get your kids outdoors and in to nature. And even if we didn’t live on a farm and didn’t home school (a lot of home schoolers seem to be very keen on nature study), I know my parents would have made sure to get my brothers and me outside. But if you’re not naturally the outdoors type, puns intended, or think the only place to go is the playground, this new book will give you 448 great ideas of what do in the great outdoors. As naturalist David Mizejewksi of the National Wildlife Federation writes in his foreword, “The nature of childhood has changed, and the sad reality is that there’s not much nature left in it.” He adds,
Technology isn’t inherently bad, but most would agree that it’s dominance in the lives of today’s children — at the expense of outdoor time — is way out of a healthy balance. Similarly, modern parents’ obsession with scheduling every second of their kids’ time in structured activities has resulted in burned out kids who never get to just run around and be kids.
And just as importantly, as David says, “we know the old saying ‘you only protect what you love, and you only love what you know’ is true.”
One of the features of the book you immediately notice are the beautiful illustrations by Rachel Riordan, which are so colorful and fun! (By the way, Rachel is Canadian and her husband Paul Riss is a birder who’s making a movie about his Big Year.) The book is divided into four main sections: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, and each season has 50 checklist items (“run barefoot on the beach”, “wake up before the birds”, “celebrate Earth Day”), 50 challenge items as part of each checklist (“catch a cricket”, “make sand art”), three projects, three destinations, three recipes from the garden, and three outdoor games. There are so many great ideas in this book, including recipes, outdoor activities, games, destinations, and craft ideas. This is a wonderful book and perfect if you want to get your kids outside, or if you need more ideas to spark your imagination. It would be hard to run out of ideas with this book!
Because I’m a birder, I’m going to highlight some of the bird activities and projects the book has to offer:
Idea #49: Watch a Bird-Banding Demonstration: I didn’t get to witness my first bird banding and band my first birds until last August at the Young Ornithologists’ Workshop. It was so neat to band a Hooded Warbler, Common Grackle, House Wren, and other species. I found that watching the people who came to watch the bird banding was one of the most entertaining parts — their faces would just light up to be shown a bird close up, so this is a perfect activity to take your kids to. I’m positive they’d love it.
Kids love crafts, I know I still do, and these pinecone feeders are a perfect craft to make with even very young kids. I’m going to make this project later this fall, to supplement my commercial feeders:
Ken and Stacy have a great website and blog with lots of extras for kids and their families: check out their Projects page (for projects inspired by nature, like the Mosaic Handprint project and gift), Outdoor Fun activities page (such as a DIY flower shelf), and Destinations page for fun family travel ideas. There’s even a Food page with recipes, and also a Videos section, with videos from Stacy and Ken with different projects, from winter hikes to forcing bulbs.
By the way, Stacy Tornio is the editor of Birds & Blooms magazine, which was my great-grandmother’s favorite. Since she died about 10 years ago, my parents have been giving an annual gift subscription of B&B to our library in her name. Stacy also wrote the recent book Project Garden: A Month-by-Month Guide to Planting, Growing, and Enjoying ALL Your Backyard Has to Offer (January 2012), a monthly guide filled with activities to keep kids and their families gardening through the entire year.
Ken Keffer is a naturalist, and has had some amazing experiences, from researching flying squirrels in the Tongass National Forest, Alaska, to monitoring Bactrian camels in Mongolia’s Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area. He has also worked as an environmental educator throughout the U.S. Best of all, Ken is a birder and a bander (and a curler!), and he’s doing a Big Year this year!