These sunny days have gotten me SO excited to be outside on a regular basis. Isn't it amazing how a little sunlight and fresh air can lift your spirits? I love the way the kids' hair smells after they've been playing outside, like sunshine and grass and leaves. I checked out a few books at the library about things to do with your kids outside. Of course, just being outside is usually enough. Kids will find plenty to do. But, I thought it would be nice for me to have some activities in mind to inspire ME to get out the door and into the green. Particularly because we live in an urban area I sometimes feel less than inspired to get outside, but after perusing these books I've got a whole list of fun ideas. The last book is my favorite:)
It's a Jungle Out There! 52 Nature Adventures for City Kids, by Jennifer Ward. This book is fun because it covers all four seasons, one activity for each week of the year. It would be fun to work into a homeschooling curriculum. Small, nearly pocket-sized and concise, this is an easy book to reference and go. You won't get lost in the pages (which can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on your perspective), but will probably use it as a jumping off point, something to turn to on a damp, fall day when going outside sounds totally unappealing (think leaf scavenger hunts, looking for animal camouflage, gathering sticks and pebbles for art projects etc.) This book is the perfect trick to pull out of your back pocket on those "I'm bored!" days.
The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World, by Susan Linn. Okay, this one isn't specifically a get-outside-and-play book, but you can see how it goes with the others, right? It's right there with Last Child in the Woods. Children need freedom to explore, play, create and process, without an overudundance of stimulation from toys, media and even other people. This book is a nice complement to the other two, to remind us that structuring and scheduling outdoor time can be good, but unstructured outdoor time is equally, if not more important. The author draws some really fascinating conclusions, that will likely have you looking at your kids' toys in a whole new light. She makes a really compelling argument for the necessity of play as a coping mechanism for children. And finally, at the end she gives some great ideas for nurturing play, particularly when it may not come so naturally to us adults. The book is a tiny bit dense, what I like to call "armchair psychology." I have a weakness for armchair psychology, which started in college when I picked up a copy of Raising Cain. So, if you like child psychology, nature and kids you'll probably really dig this.
The Green Hour, by Todd Christopher. Don't you love the idea of having a "green hour" each day. The title won me over before I even cracked the cover. We have a "quiet time" every day, why not every day "outside time," rain or shine? The Green Hour starts out with a bunch of safety information, which normally I'd kind of skim over. But this was actually really helpful and shared a few things I didn't know (poison ivy rashes don't actually spread, and toothpaste works on bee stings). The actual meat of the book is devoted to very do-able nature outings, starting small (your own backyard) and getting wider and farther. There's a great section called Picking Up On Tracks and Clues that teaches how to find, read and save animal tracks! So cool! This was really my favorite book. Each section is full of great ideas, such that you could spend a week doing activities from each one. Then there are fun little facts tucked in everywhere and even book recommendations so you could reinforce what you're learning in your green hour, during quiet hour:) You can check out the Green Hour website too.
Do you have any favorite get-outside-and-play resources? What are your plans for this new, lovely warm weather?