Field Guide to a Happy Childhood

If you read my blog, you know that I am big on trying to get my kids outside every single day. I played outside all the time when I was a kid because I grew up on an island with no crime and no “helicopter parents.” It’s important to me that even though my kids are in the suburbs, they’re experiencing nature up close and frequently. With that in mind, I recently purchased a little pocket sized book called “Pond Life.” It’s from a series of field guides called “Golden Guides” by St. Martin’s Press. It’s got the old school illustrations of plants and animals and it’s designed to be carried out on walks and used to identify all the different plants and animals you might see. I got the book on Amazon for under $5 and I want to get the rest of the series.

We took our “Pond Life” book out with us the other day and my three year old loved it. She wanted to hold it and look at all the pictures. She definitely needed help identifying anything, but it got her to start thinking like a scientist and paying attention to all the variations in nature. I asked questions like, “How many leaves does this plant have? What color is the bird? Does this plant have thorns?”

I think as parents we have to take advantage of the times when kids are naturally curious. This was definitely a learning activity, but it didn’t feel like a chore. My three year old loves pointing to plants and telling me what they are. She loves amassing knowledge and she is proud of herself for remembering. Buying a cheap field guide and heading for the woods is something I highly recommend.

 Another cool thing you can do is go to your local REI and look for the brochures and bulletin board area. They have a free little booklet called the Kids’ Adventure Journal. It has pages where you can write down the date, where you went, what plants and animals you saw and how the weather was. It’s like mini field notes for kids. This is something else I highly recommend. It gets kids outside and paying attention.

photo courtesy of REI.com

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