Looking for a book filled with activities and advice to help you get into nature with your kids? I’ve listed five of my favorites here. I refer to these often in my daily outdoor activities with my now 5-year-old, and have been using a couple of these books since he was two or three. While it’s important to provide children with lots of free playtime outdoors to nurture creativity, social skills, and physical fitness, sometimes it’s fun to incorporate an activity or a bit of nature education into the outing.
- I Love Dirt: 52 Activities to Help You & Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature by Jennifer Ward – For the past two years, I’ve used this one more than any of the others. It’s written specifically for exploring nature with children in the 4-8 age-range, but I found it useful when my boy was 2 and 3, too. In the book, Ward provides one seasonally appropriate nature activity per week. For those with older children (age 8-12), you may want to check out another book by Ward, Let’s Go Outside, which has 52 nature activities for older kids.
- The Kids Nature Book: 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities & Experiences by Susan Milord – I originally checked this book out of the library, but I found I absolutely had to own it, as it has so much information, so many wonderful activities, and additional book recommendations (stories and poems). Milord provides one seasonally-appropriate activity for each day of the year. The activities are designed for children aged 4-10.
- The Green Hour: A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids by Todd Christopher – Christopher is the creator of the National Wildlife Federation‘s Green Hour. This book is filled with fun tips, activities, and science projects to get you outside into your backyard and into nature with your kid(s). Christopher also provides great safety tips and ways to fit outdoor time into our busy schedules. The goal is to give kids a minimum of an hour outdoors every day. Since that’s my goal, too, I have to recommend this book. Love it!!
- 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids by Rebecca P. Cohen – I like this one because, well, sometimes we only have fifteen minutes in a day to fit in a bit of outdoor time. Fifteen minutes is better than nothing! Cohen provides an outdoor play or nature activity for each day of the year, broken down by month. This is a nice book to have on hand when time is short and you need a quick idea.
- The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, & Classrooms by Clare Walker Leslie – I just bought this book this week, so I haven’t had much experience with it yet. But having flipped through the book and read a couple chapters, I know this one is going to be invaluable in our future nature explorations. The author is well-known for her previous book, Keeping a Nature Journal, and her knowledge as a self-made naturalist shines through in this new book from her. She provides great tools for observing and learning about nature while also giving tips for recording our findings. As with the previous books I’ve listed, the activities are broken down by month
While I’ve read and enjoyed other books about exploring nature with groups of children (such as Joseph Cornell’s Sharing Nature with Children), the books I’ve listed above are the ones I’ve found most useful from the perspective of a parent getting outside with a child.
For further inspiration, please follow along with my family here on this blog as we head outdoors daily for play and nature exploration!
Now let’s head outside…