Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Go Wild Outside

I follow Fiona Bird on twitter where she’s often posting photos of seaweed, news about foraging, and generally interesting tidbits about land and plants. Bird tweeted about reviewing her book Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside (CICO Books), I contacted the publisher, received a copy in the mail, and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

This book is refreshing. The writing is bright, abundant, and inviting. It offers a lot of information and activities, but it doesn’t belabor the learning outcomes and educational values of the outdoor experience. Instead the emphasis is on discovery, play, and trusting the reader’s curiosity to guide her. Each chapter covers a different region: woods; meadows, hedgerows and hills; seashore; water and wetlands; and “my wild garden and kitchen.”

For each Bird gives information about the flora and fauna you’ll find, instructions for crafts to make with local plants and found materials, a little bit of natural history, and activities appropriate to the area. Almost all of the crafts and activities are free and made largely with biodegradable materials that can be returned to site when finished.  Although most of the activities are appropriate for younger children (some with supervision), older children and adults will find plenty to try. I’m especially excited to try making nettle cordage and artist’s charcoal from pussy willow branches! 

This book would be a helpful resource for outdoor educators or indoor educators wanting to get their students outside more. Likewise it would be a thoughtful gift for any young naturalist moving to (or vacationing in) new areas.  In fact I plan to getting a second copy for some young family friends.  My hat goes off to Bird for this thorough and accessible book. I look forward to returning to it as spring finally comes to Wisconsin.