Title: I Love Dirt!(52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature)
Author: Jennifer Ward
Foreword: Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods
Illustratator: Susie Ghahremani
I popped in at Half Price Books after a long season off from scheduling book signings. Tucked low in my employee cube was a book – this book – with a post it note on it from my boss.
“Andi – I thought you might like because of the woods you live by!”
I did like it, immediately. And bought it with my Christmas money.
The book starts with a riveting foreword about the nature of nature in the United States and how much we have strayed from the outdoors. Interestingly enough, the more we stray from outdoor life, the more children struggle with obesity, ADD and ADHD, as well as depression.
And the more kids spend outdoors?
“A 2005 study by the California Department of Education found that students in schools with nature immersion programs performed 27 percent better in science testing than kids in traditional class settings. Similarly, children who attended outdoor classrooms showed substantially improved test scores, particularly in science. Such research consistently confirms what our great-grandparents instinctively knew to be true, and what we know in our bones and nerves to be right: free-play in natural settings is good for a child’s mental and physical health. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, stating in 2007 that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for children.”
I’m in love with this book. I already do a lot of nature activities with my child – foraging for starters. We play outside at the public park, we walk nature trails, we run, we jump, do cartwheels in the grass, hunt insects and lizards, sword fight with sticks, and sing our ABCs at the tops of our lungs by the creek. As Ward states in her introduction, “There is nothing more joyful and inspiring to watch than children discovering the world around them.”
All of the activities in this book are pretty much cost free. The only one I found that requires any kind of purchase is the bird feeding one, and that’s only if you want to do it big and don’t have spare groceries in your house. The activities are simple, like sprinkling orange peels in your yard or covering pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed to bird watch from inside when it is too cold to be outside.
The book is broken up seasonally, so you can hop in and do something no matter when you pick up the book. Each activity has a prompt or a concept to get your child thinking about the activity and world itself.