Three New Books About Stuff to Do With Kids


My kids already spend a lot of time outside, so I hesitated over whether or not to purchase Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids. But now I'm so glad I own it. The author lists 365 different things to do outside, divided by month, most of which are simple, easy ideas. For example, in September the activities range from working on homework outside to playing four sticks ("grab four sticks to see how many different shapes or letters you can make"). And while some of the suggestions are no-brainers for us ("visit a local nature center") the author also lists many activities I never thought of, such as planting aster to attract butterflies and tracking seasonal changes by spending one day a week at the same place and detailing the changes in a special notebook. The book is great to grab during one of those "ugh, what to do?" parenting moments that hit at unexpected times. A great solution to hearing "I'm bored" (ugh, I hate those dreaded words).

(For more books on children and nature, check out my past post here).

I'm a big fan of the blog Soulemama (which, currently, is making me obsess over how much fun we would have raising chickens). I own Amanda Soule's first book, The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connectionsand have referenced it frequently over the past few years (this book inspired me to start making monthly grateful lists). Amanda's newest book - The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasonshas less activities and crafts then her first book (if you're choosing between them, I'd recommend the first one) but I find the chapters, divided by season, an inspiring way of looking at the world around us. And I enjoyed the seasonal project suggestions, esp. making nature stamps and "a string of leaves." Definitely worth checking out.

Mariah Bruehl's book Playful Learning: Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonderhas been all over the blogosphere lately. It seems that most big bloggers received free copies (what about me Mariah? What about me? Small bloggers need love too!), but don't worry, I'm not bitter (okay, so maybe a little bitter). Luckily, it's a book worth buying. I think Playful Learning would work well as a how-to manual for homeschooling moms, but it is also helpful for moms like me searching for new things to try with our public-schooled kids. The chapters are broken down by subject (writing, reading, math, science, art, the environment, and "feelings"), with simple ideas for activities. Bruehl frequently recommends children's books to read then suggests complementary activities based on the suggested books. For example, I love the idea "drawing a map of your heart" after reading Sara Fanelli's My Map Book. I also love the idea of an alphabet scavenger hunt. Regarding the chapter on reading, I've noticed that F's kindergarten teacher utilizes many of the same methods, which, for me, means that Bruehl knows what she's doing. I highly suggest picking up a copy (if this was a bigger blog, I'd auction off a free copy, but no such luck, sorry everyone).

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