Happy belated Earth Day. I would have posted yesterday, but our home computer is a mac., and will not let me post, or edit, or anything useful (is there anyone out there who uses a mac and blogspot together in harmony?).
In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to mention my favorite get outside and appreciate/learn about the earth book--One Small Square: Backyard. It's been around for a while (1993), but it deserves to be a part of every young naturalist's library. What I like about it is that it combines facts with activities (and lovely illustrations). We tend to be somewhat cerebral in our approach to activity books (why why why do I have to read aloud books like Let's Make Space Aliens etc.), so a book like Backyard is a good choice for us. But we did take it out into our own backyard last summer, and a good time was had by all.
Also Earth dayish, and inspired by the posts over at The Miss Rumphius Effect on educational things to do with children outside, I wanted to share my one really original idea (to date, and as far as I know) for a great thing to do while on a nature walk -- Trail Bingo. We live near an Audubon sanctuary, and walk the Orange Trail often in all seasons. So one day we brought with us notebooks and colored pencils, and searched for landmarks/plant and animal species/rock formations/tree formations that we could put into an Orange Trail bingo game. We filled our notebooks with sketches of what we saw --- gap in the wall, twin tree trunk, triangle stone in the path, princess pine, etc etc. Because we had a purpose, we looked at what was around us harder than we ever had before, and because we were drawing what we saw, we looked at things longer. We had fun creating the game cards too--it was good art practice to simplify our images so that they were more or less the same on all the cards on which they appeared.
We never actually played Orange Trail Bingo, but that wasn't really the point. It was enough that we had made our own connections to the trail, and could great our landmarks like friends.