This large book in portrait format is full of ideas to make being outside interesting and worth exploring. Organised in nine chapters, some of the activities are suitable for particular outdoor places : ‘In the woods’ , ‘On the street’ and ‘By the water’, for example. Other chapters home in on things to do in different weather conditions – ‘Sunny days’, ‘Rainy days’ and ‘Windy days’. Sometimes children, particularly those at the upper end of the suggested age range, will be able to follow the instructions for activities and creations themselves with a little adult help to get materials together. Making wind chimes following the stages set out under ‘Musical Airs’, ‘Rain Painting’, ‘Watch it Blow’ (making a wind sock), ‘Wild Photography’ and pressing flowers in the way shown in ‘Flower Power’ are all suitable for a child on their own or with a friend in the safety of the back garden. Some activities involve the use of tools that make adult supervision necessary and even planting bulbs needs some adult support (See ‘Ready, set, grow!’). The ‘Helper Bug’ signals that help is needed and when ‘Danger Bug’ is shown – extra careful supervision is essential.
Quite a few activities are appropriate for a family or school based project. Here I would include the idea for making an insect hotel (see ‘At the Bug Hotel’) where a structure needs to be created with crates or pallets. Pebbles, small logs and flowerpots are added to make an inviting habitat for insects which can then be studied. ‘Den building’, ‘Eco Art’ (including the lovely idea for an Autumn leaf chain), ‘The Secret Garden’, which involves creating a moth theatre after dark with a sheet and a light to attract the creatures, and the activities grouped under ‘Sun Time’ including making a sundial all involve careful planning and input from adults. Then there are exciting suggestions for group activities in open spaces like a park – see ‘On Your Marks’ about organising your own Olympics and ‘Park Life’ for instructions to do with and tree climbing
There is a sensible balance to be aimed at between allowing children to have fun and to learn from experience and making sure that enjoyable activities are also safe. There is advice here to get this balance right. This is a book which may spark keen interest in an aspect of nature or in creating a particular kind of art; the listed websites provide further information for young researchers.