Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Exploring the Natural World - Part 3

In this third and final post in my series on exploring the natural world, I thought it would be helpful to point you to some of my best resources for outdoor education. Some of these are designed specifically for teachers, while others are actually written for kids. These are the books I turn to over and over again for great ideas for exploring nature.

First, a general plug for environmental education programs. I am a facilitator for Project WILD, Project Learning Tree (PLT), Population Connection. and Wonders of Wetlands. All of these groups publish comprehensive curriculum materials that provide background information and useful activities, many of them outdoor. If you can get to a workshop and receive these materials, by all means do.

In addition to these resources, the following books help to round out my collection of resources for teachers.
  • I have two well-worn copies of the original books published by Joseph Cornell, Sharing Nature with Children and Sharing the Joy of Nature. You can find the 20th anniversary edition of Sharing Nature with Children, and Sharing Nature with Children II at Dawn Publications. These are filled with a variety of games and activities that will help young and old get more in touch with the world around them.
  • Nature with Children of All Ages by Edith Sisson - This publication from the Massachusetts Audubon Society is chock full of ideas for exploring the natural world. I particularly like the thematic organization, where topics such as tree, plants, seeds, invertebrates, birds, etc. can be found.
  • The National Wildlife Federation has published a series called Ranger Rick's NatureScope. Covering a range of subjects, such as weather, geology, trees, endangered species, etc., these guides provide extensive background information and activities.
There are many books written for kids that I use not only to guide my selection of activities, but as wonderful resources for grabbing their attention and focusing them on what they may find/see outdoors.
  • Nature Detective: How to Solve Outdoor Mysteries by Eileen Docekal - Set up in a mystery format, this book includes information on animal tracks, animal houses, pond creatures, bird songs, animal scents, seeds, fungi, weather, and nocturnal creatures. Each chapter presents a "case" for children to solve.
  • My First Green Book by Angela Wilkes - This practical, oversized volume provides hands-on activities that demonstrate the importance of pitching in to protect our planet. Similar in format to the Eyewitness series, the book is filled with large-scale, color photos that effectively illustrate such experiments as those that show how clean the air is, how acid rain affects plants, how various objects biodegrade at different rates (if at all) and why rain forests are so crucial to the Earth. Other projects include creating a wildlife garden in a flower box, planting a tree and organizing a "green campaign" with one's friends.
  • My First Nature Book by Angela Wilkes - Also an oversized volume in the format of the Eyewitness series, this book provides an introduction to nature through a variety of simple indoor and outdoor activities including collecting seeds, feeding birds, watching a butterfly grow and more.
  • Nature in the Neighborhood by Gordon Morrison - Each double-page spread in this book reveals the diversity and abundance of life that can be found in your own backyard.
Please let me know if you have any favorite resources for getting kids outdoors and teaching about our wonderful world. I would love to hear about them.

**If you missed the earlier entries, please do read Part 1 and Part 2.

1 comment:

  1. I have enjoyed your series on Exploring the Natural World, Tricia. The new edition of Learning in the Great Outdoors is up.